Canada used to be one of the very few countries that did not legalize MMA fights on a national level for quite some time.
The bill on legalizing the sport passed around the middle of 2013 once some data was showcased during a government meeting. The example was a UFC event in 2012 which drew in more than 55,000 Canadians and generated around $22 million of direct profit.
In fact, it’s believed that the traffic was so large on MMA events and betting websites that some of the online Canadian casino games had to shut down temporarily to somehow accomodate the waves of bettors charging in on the platforms to place bets on their players.
Although having this much attention from gamblers wasn’t a positive argument in legalizing MMA, it was still used as economic evidence.
The government was looking at MMA as a violent sport and was actually very reluctant to accept it due to health concerns and the nature of its entertainment value.
However, the popularity that MMA managed to garner in Canada could not be ignored anymore. Some Canadian provinces did allow the events, due to the way Canadian law works. That’s why the senator was able to provide some examples.
What influenced the popularity
Being right next to a large market such as the United States it was common for Canadians to watch a lot of US events, which used to be all over the place in the early 2010s.
That’s when MMA president Dana White decided to first wet his feet in the Canadian market, and found out just how lucrative the business was going to be there.
Although the UFC has developed quite a bit ever since the early 2010s, Canada still remains one of its largest markets despite the relatively small population when compared to the United States.
Dana White has said once that Canada is the Mecca of MMA and would double down on making it one of the most popular sports there, but it’s practically impossible to beat the popularity of Ice Hockey there, but number two was still better than nothing.
Influences on popularity
One of the major factors that influenced the popularity of MMA in Canada was when it first started to become legalized in several provinces.
Naturally, whenever something formerly illegal suddenly becomes available, it garners a lot of attention.
However, contrary to products or services, MMA managed to maintain its popularity simply because it was a type of entertainment rather than something to consume once in a few weeks or so, there was a whole slew of content available 24/7.
Adding to the fact that the United States was so close and travel was effortless, many Canadians would cross the border and attend dozens of events in places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.