Vancouver hosts first MMA fight in two years
The city sanctioned two amateur MMA test fights so city councillors could judge the merits of the sport.
Tickets at both venues sold out.
And according to councillor Kerry Jang, who attended the Honour Combat Championships event at the Edgewater Casino, the evening was a smashing success.
"These promoters are really working hard to bring our concerns into the rules, to make sure these matches are safe and that they are entertaining," Jang said.
Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Rampage Jackson, who is in town filming the A-Team movie, also attended the fight.
Jackson said he'd be game for a Vancouver MMA event if the money was right.
"If I get paid, I'd fight anywhere," Jackson told CTV. "I'd fight on the moon if they paid me."
UFC officials are pushing for a title fight in Vancouver next year, and promoters have already tentatively booked General Motors Place for a June 2010 fight featuring current champion Georges St. Pierre.
Council will be debating the future of MMA fighting in the city next month. The reception of Friday night's fights could make all the difference.
Vancouver stopped sanctioning MMA events in September 2007, amid concerns that the sport was too brutal and violent.
Councillor David Cadman stood by the city's decision on Thursday, maintaining that the combination of jiu jitsu, wrestling and kickboxing should not be considered a sport at all.
"Is dog fighting a sport?" Cadman asked. "Is bullfighting a sport? Is cockfighting a sport?"
Promoter Trevor Dueck disagrees with the comparison.
Dueck says the mix of multiple disciplines required to participate makes MMA fighting a highly skilled athletic activity -- one that many Vancouverites are clamoring for.
"We've gotten a great response," Dueck said. "There's a big appetite in Vancouver for mixed martial arts."
But Cadman worries the violence won't stop when the fight ends.
"Clearly a bunch of testosterone-pumped young people coming out of a fight like that and going into the bars is a risk and the police recognize that as a risk," said Cadman.
At a mixed martial arts event on the Musqueam Reserve last year, a 25-year-old contestant was shot in the leg. He was standing outside a community centre when he was hit.
Police said at the time that the shot came from someone in a crowd of males who later escaped in a vehicle.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Norma Reid