Quebec Athletic Commision does it again

PRO MMA (promma.info) has learned from XMMA matchmaker, Joey Benoit, that the Canadian MMA promotion, XMMA, has had to cancel their upcoming May 16th event, “XMMA 8: Challenge Series” due to “technical difficulties” with the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, also known as the Quebec Athletic Commission.

The president of XMMA, Burton Rice, also released the following statement: “The XMMA organization would like to inform everyone that their May 16th 2009 gala at the Palais des Sports in Jonquiere will be cancelled due to an administrative conflict with the Régie des Sports du Québec. XMMA made all attempts in order to save the May 16th 2009 show. However unfortunately, a resolution could not be reached within the allotted time delay.

It must be noted that the cancellation of the May 16th 2009 show will in no way affect any of our future projects. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused our fighters, sponsors and fans. In addition, we would like to thank all of our fighters, sponsors and loyal fans who continue to support Mixed Martial Arts as well as XMMA.”

As many may remember, UFC 97 was close to being cancelled or moved due to the same athletic commission demanding drastic and unrealistic rule changes after approximately 13,000 tickets were already sold. The rule changes would have required a much smaller cage then the patented 32 foot octagon, prohibited elbow and knee strikes, and would have required the referee to halt a bout should a fighter get knocked down from a strike in order to ensure the downed fighter is okay to continue.

Although the Quebec Athletic Commission had adhered to the Unified Rules of MMA in the past, the sudden and drastic rule changes were prompted after a near riot during Strikebox’s inaugural event in Montreal on February 6th. Fans threw beer cans, and eventually even a few chairs, into the cage when James “Colossus” Thompson failed to abide by the mutually accepted gentleman’s agreement to keep the fight standing.

The rules of Strike Box, which prohibited going to the ground, were not accepted by the province’s athletic commission in time for the event so the event had to be held under MMA rules. So, prior to the fights, each fighter agreed that they would fight under the original Strike Box rules, as a gentlemen’s agreement. But technically each fight would be fought under MMA rules so the referee could not stop anything that was allowed in MMA.

None of the fights had any ground fighting until the main event, which featured EliteXC and Pride veteran, James Thompson going against former hockey enforcer, and local hero, Steve Bosse. Immediately Thompson shot in on Bosse and took him to the ground. He then moved to side mount and started raining down punches and elbows on Bosse. Eventually landing in full mount with more punches and elbows.

The fans began booing to show their displeasure, then started raining the cage with beer cans and in some cases metal chairs. The fight ended up being ruled a no contest after the referee threw Bosse out of the cage for tossing a beer can at Thompson.

The UFC and the Quebec Athletic Commission eventually came to an agreement, with the only change in rules being the prohibition of foot stomps. “UFC 97: Redemption” ended up selling out prior to the tickets going on sale to the public and was a huge success, for both the UFC and Montreal.

With the forced cancellation of XMMA 8, as well as Bellator Fighting Championships having to move their May 26th event from Montreal to Monroe, Louisiana due to issues with the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux over the configuration of their cage, many if not all MMA promotions will definitely have to think twice about trying to promote any events in Quebec in the future. In the end, the great MMA fans in and around Quebec area are the ones who will be hurt the most.

By:  Jeff Howard