Already posted in the News forum, I know, but it might actually generate more discussion here and get more noticed: It's certainly an interesting topic especially for those in Canada who want to see Amateur MMA because it's continuing a fight that dates 2 years back but also because it could affect the development of more pro MMA talent up there:
On May 3, 2006, the Ontario Mixed Martial Arts Association (OMMAA) received a letter from the Ministry of Government Services explaining why professional MMA was not permitted in the province of Ontario in Canada. In that letter they stated the following:
“You may wish to contact the ministry of Health Promotions (MHP) so that you can explore having MMA recognized and sanctioned through the amateur sporting process. Steps in this direction may enable you to establish a safety track record in Ontario…”
OMMAA followed this recommendation and began to work on all the requirements set forth by the MHP’s Provincial Sport Recognition (PSO) criteria. This included forming a top-notch technical committee, establishing amateur rules and regulations, creating certification programs for coaches and officials, obtaining event and gym insurance, establishing national and international MMA affiliations and signing-up thousands of interested members. OMMAA submitted its formal application to become the recognized PSO for MMA in October 2007.
It wasn’t until August 2008 that OMMAA finally received a response from the MHP denying the application on the basis of three concerns. Firstly, the MHP was uncomfortable with OMMAA’s coaching certification program stating the following:
"Coaches must be trained in specific skills of the activity of MMA and OMMAA's certification program does not fulfill this requirement."
OMMAA’s coaching program will be delivered by experienced MMA coaches, an Olympic certified coach, and a doctor. OMMAA remains confident that they can address whatever the MHP's concerns are about its coaching program and therefore it has requested further clarification as to what exactly it is the MHP is looking for.
Next, the MHP expressed concern that the National Sport Organization (NSO), the Canadian Mixed Martial Arts Association (CMMAA), only had one member, OMMAA. Unfortunately, this is a “chicken and the egg” dilemma that OMMAA cannot do anything about. One province must go first and since almost all other provinces already allow professional MMA, Ontario is the only province with a strong incentive to develop amateur MMA.
It is critical to note that amateur MMA (with protective equipment, many rule restrictions, shorter rounds, etc.) does not exist anywhere in Canada. OMMAA’s intentions are not only to prepare its participants for a professional career, but to also make it a non-threatening and fun experience which can be enjoyed by the many youths that are drawn to the sport.
OMMAA has been contacted by individuals in New Brunswick, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia that are eagerly waiting to join CMMAA upon observing the rules and regulations and once certification programs are established in Ontario. In short, OMMAA is asking the ministry to allow Ontario to be the leader in amateur MMA in Canada.
Finally, the MHP expressed the following concern over the safety of OMMAA’s proposed rules:
“We are particularly concerned with submissions through choking, striking on the ground and the use of open-fingered gloves.”
While these are no doubt essential qualities which make the sport of MMA unique and different from other combative competitions, OMMAA is willing to make rule compromises to at least get the ball rolling. Even if the ultimate outcome is a severely watered down version of the sport, at least it would be a step in the right direction.
OMMAA has requested an in-person meeting with the individuals responsible for combative sports in the MHP and are currently waiting to hear back. OMMAA would like to reassure the thousands of concerned fans of MMA in Ontario that they are doing everything in their power and that this fight is far from over.
That one statement near the end (concern over submissions, ground strikes, open-fingered gloves) almost seems contradictory in some ways just because it's part of pro MMA and there seems to be no problem with it. Sounds to me like MHP is just sandbagging because they just don't want amateur MMA against the wishes of what could be a majority, but that's just my view. Maybe some of our Canadians who are more familiar with this subject can explain it better than I can.