Mixed Martial Arts and Canadian Law

July 8th, 2013 by

This blog is written by our law summer student, Michelle Stephenson

Given the popularity of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), and the huge fan base of Quebec-born welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, it may come as a surprise that mixed martial arts (MMA) and other combative sports are not actually legal across Canada.

However, a bill legalizing combat sports such as MMA has now been passed by the House of Commons in an overwhelming vote of 267 to 9. This bill proposes amendments to the section of the Criminal Code prohibiting prize-fighting, which was last updated in 1934 and only exempted regulated boxing and amateur boxing with gloves weighing a minimum of 140 grams each.

To date, there has been inconsistent provincial and municipal sanctioning of MMA across the country. For example, Ontario and Quebec have treated UFC events as boxing matches, to circumvent the criminal legislation.

The proposed amendments would allow the provinces to regulate amateur and professional combat sports other than boxing, including MMA and other sports such has tae kwon do and judo, which have previously been in a legal grey area.

Supporters of the bill argue that MMA is as safe as boxing, if not more so because fights do not have to continue until a knockout or referee stepping in. The Canadian Medical Association, however, has opposed legalization of both of these sports due to concern about head injuries.

Additionally, given the growing popularity of MMA in Canada and the by the average MMA fan, supporters of the bill emphasize the importance of clear and current law to ensure proper regulation and to minimize the danger to participants.

With 12 UFC events hosted in Canada since 2008, more to come, and between 6 and 30 million dollars in economic activity generated within province from a single event, it seems like high time the law caught up with the reality of the growing sport.

For further information regarding our Criminal Law services please visit our Criminal Law page.

For more information about Mixed Martial Arts and Canadian Law and related articles:

Just – The Legality of Mixed Martial Arts in Canada
Globe and Mail – House of Commons passes law that takes MMA out of legal limbo
CBC News – Mixed martial arts set to become legal with final House vote

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