UFC 97, which is slated to take place on April 18th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, could be forced to change locations due to possible MMA rules changes in the province following last weekend’s disastrous debut of Strikebox.
Sportsnet.ca has details on the changes being considered by the Quebec Athletic Commission:
Sources close to the [event] say these could include a requirement for a much smaller cage than the UFC’s patented Octagon, prohibiting elbow and knee strikes and requiring that the referee halt a bout should a fighter get knocked down from a strike in order to ensure the downed fighter is okay to continue.
Representatives from the commission told Sportsnet.ca the UFC will have to follow the rules set forth by the commission if they wish to hold their show in Montreal. Marc Ratner, the UFC’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, is fully aware of the new situation and is hopeful that ongoing discussions with the commission will prove that this will not jeopardize the UFC’s return to the province.
Strikebox, which was promoted as MMA without ground fighting, failed to have their rules approved by the athletic commission and had to hold their debut event using traditional MMA rules, with fighters agreeing to an alternate set of rules similar to those that the commission rejected. The event went as expected until headliner James Thompson, prominently seen last year losing to Kimbo Slice, took former hockey enforcer and popular local fighter Steve Bosse to the ground and unleashed punches, which resulted in the crowd showering the cage with beer cans to show their displeasure.
The UFC made it’s Canadian debut last April at the Bell Centre with UFC 83, which featured Georges St-Pierre reclaiming the welterweight title in a rematch with Matt Serra.