AH: Both Marc Ratner and Tom Wright have said that the UFC will only return to British Columbia if the sport is sanctioned provincially. Do you think that will happen any time soon?
PL: The provincial and municipal governments have been batting this issue back and forth for a long time now. I don’t dispute that having a provincial commission is the way to go, but it’s very frustrating to keep hearing that the province and city are each trying to pawn responsibility off on the other, resulting in the sport getting stuck in a quagmire. While we wait for the province to get its finger out of its a**, we could easily continue to run MMA events under VAC sanction as was previously (and successfully) done by World Freestyle Fighting, Elite Fighting Championships, bodogFIGHT, UFC and others.
AH: What, if any, backlash was there towards the UFC following last month’s event?
PL: The only backlash following UFC 115 is that of the Vancouver fanbase against the municipal government. The event couldn’t have gone better. I spoke with members of the Vancouver Police Department and they told me that there were no problems inside the arena, and nothing on the streets afterward that they wouldn’t have encountered on a normal Saturday night. However, city council is grasping at straws, trying to find anything negative to justify blocking further events. Councilor Kerry Jang said of an incident of gay-bashing that happened in the general vicinity of the arena: ‘There was an issue of a beating — unrelated to UFC, but the perception was there.’ In my opinion, the local government is going to continue with its old, cowardly practice of making excuses to conduct further ‘evaluations’ and ‘risk assessments’ so that they can back-burner MMA forever without ever having to actually say ‘no.’
AH: When do you think the UFC will return to Vancouver?
PL: No time soon, by the look of it. Until politicians put their personal bias/arrogance aside and let the actual facts about MMA dictate their actions, I won’t be holding my breath for any kind of professional mixed martial arts activity in Vancouver.