The UFC's second trip to Canada may not go quite as smoothly as its first.
According to a report by the French-language website CorusSports.com, Canadian officials have said the UFC is not welcome for an April return trip to the Bell Centre in Montreal with the organization's current policies.
Réjean Thériault, the communications director for the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, which governs alcohol, racing, gambling and combat sports in Quebec, told CorusSports the UFC's use of elbows and knees to the head do not currently fall in line with the commission's policies.
The commission's current policies only apply to boxing, kickboxing and mixed boxing and do not provide regulations on the use of a cage. Thériault told CorusSports that if the UFC was unable to adapt its own policies to the commission's regulations, the company would not be welcome for its planned April 18 event.
UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) it was too soon to know how this revelation would affect UFC 97.
"I don't have enough information right now," Ratner said. "I just know what I've been told, and we're working on it."
Ratner said the UFC is working diligently to ensure the event goes on as planned.
"I just know peripherally, and we're getting all the information," Ratner said. "We've got to make it work."
Thursday's revelation was particularly curious considering the UFC held the highest-attended event in company history, "UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre 2," in Montreal nearly one year ago. According to the report, the commission was unaware of the UFC's 2008 event -- attended by more than 21,000 people and generating $5.1 million in ticket sales -- until just a few days ago.
Thériault went on to state that there was simply not adequate time to make the necessary regulatory changes in order for the UFC to hold an event in Montreal under the Unified Rules of MMA.
Attempts by MMAjunkie.com to reach Thériault for comment were unsuccessful.
According to an additional report by the Canadian-based Sportsnet.ca, the commission is re-evaluating the rules it uses to govern mixed martial arts after confusion over implemented policies for the Feb. 6 debut show of Stephen Patry's Strikebox. While the event was conducted under standard MMA rules, a supposed "gentleman's agreement" to keep the fights standing was allegedly agreed upon by the fighters involved. When main-event competitor James Thompson did not adhere to the alleged agreement, angry fans began peltng the combatants with beer cans and other objects.
The report goes on to state that sources have indicated the commission may be looking to require "a much smaller cage than the UFC's patented Octagon, prohibiting elbow and knee strikes and requiring that the referee to halt a bout should a fighter get knocked down from a strike in order to ensure the downed fighter is OK to continue."