linkUFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner says accounts of UFC 115's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Amid reports the UFC's first trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has been moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, due to legal issues with the Vancouver City Council, Ratner told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) the promotion will make a final decision regarding the June 12 event within 24 hours.
"We're certainly working hand in hand with the mayor's office and the city council, and hopefully we have what they want," Ratner said. "The fight is still going forward as we speak."
However, UFC president Dana White today told Rogers Sportsnet that the promotion can't wait any longer to announce the event and is in the process of moving it to the U.S.
The UFC needs 60 to 70 days to mount an event in a new city, according to Ratner, which means the UFC still has time left before it's too late. But it's getting down to the wire.
Ratner said VAC's major impasse remains over legal liability in the event a lawsuit is filed against the city due to an injury or mishap during a fight. A rider added to the city's two-year pilot program after its passage this past December stated potential promoters need to provide a $12 million bond to protect against such an occurrence. The figure is more than double the usual bond required of promoters.
"The hold-up is (that) we need to be sure that nobody is going to sue the city," Dr. Kerry Jang, a Vancouver city councillor, said today. "We need to know we're free and clear of responsibility if there's a problem. So if we're going to hold these events, we'll hold them responsibly, and right now the province has not given us indemnity like the Quebec government gives Montreal.
"Until we get that, we're 100 percent responsible and can't take those risks."
Jang said responsibility for the delay rests on the provincial government in British Columbia and the Canadian federal government. Under the country's criminal code, the sport is technically still illegal.
"The insurance companies are concerned that we're talking about what is in fact an illegal activity according to federal law," he said. "The prize-fighting code was going to be changed we were told by [federal heritage and culture minister] James Moore, but that hasn't happened yet. The B.C. attorney general, [Mike De Jong], sent us a letter waving his pompoms saying 'yay UFC,' but they haven't addressed this issue/ They've just thrown it back at us.
"What needs to happen to make this work? The B.C. government needs to step up and show leadership on it. We're making precedent here. We can't be too cautious."
Ratner said the 2010 Winter Olympics proved to be a costly delay to working through liability issues with the city.
"I wanted to get everything done if we could before the Olympics, and that we couldn't do," he said. "We lost a couple of months, so I wasn't surprised (we had problems).
"I thought we'd have it done by now, but I'm just enthusiastic, and I look at the positives."
If UFC 115 does not take place in Vancouver on June 12, Ratner said a future event is still in the cards.
"Absolutely," he said. "We have no problems. We want to put a show on in Vancouver. We're very, very strongly wanting to do it. If we had to ... postpone the show, we'll still be looking (at Vancouver) some other time."
Ratner said a formal decision on where the show's new location would be has not been finalized, but Cincinnati has been "bandied about."
The UFC has held two events in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: UFC 83 and UFC 97, which were near-instant sellouts. A third event, UFC 113, takes place at the city's Bell Centre on May 8 and is sold out. Zuffa, LLC, the UFC's parent company, is expected to send World Extreme Cagefighting to Calgary, Alberta, on June 20.