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Vancouver to Vote on MMA Regulation Thursday; June UFC Event Possible

The mixed martial arts world will have the chance to add one more city to its stable on Thursday, when the city of Vancouver is expected to vote on the regulation of mixed martial arts.

No professional MMA event has been sanctioned in Vancouver since September 2007.

Last month, however, in preparation of a vote, the city sanctioned two amateur events, giving city councillors a chance for an up-close look at the sport.

According to local media reports, reaction has been mostly positive.

"I want to be on this bandwagon," councillor Suzanne Anton told the Vancouver Sun. "Bandwagons come and go. If you wait too long and they'll be over and its a very popular sport right now. I want the UFC to come. Bring it on."

Councillor Kerry Jang went into a recent event as a critic of the sport, but emerged impressed, telling Sun Media, "The sport has come a long way."

At least one of their colleagues, however, disagrees. David Cadman told CTV, "Is dog fighting a sport? Is bullfighting a sport? Is cockfighting a sport?"

The Vancouver Athletic Commission previously sanctioned five MMA events prior to 2007, at which time they were instructed by the city council to cease sanctioning events.

At the time, the City Council voiced concerns about unruly behavior by fans leaving MMA events, but the city's police department allayed those fears in a recent report, saying they had "no significant policing issues" stemming from professionally run events.

In April 2008, the VAC passed a motion saying they had no objection to sanctioning the sport.

The UFC, which according to the Sun will send Assistant General Counsel Mike Mersch and Executive VP and General Counsel Lawrence Esptein to the Thursday hearing, has tentatively promised the city a June 2010 event should the sport gain sanctioning. Vancouver has long been one of the organization's top targets to run an event, and if they are successful in regulation, the company will likely next turn its sights to another holdout, Ontario.

Vancouver is the third-largest city in Canada, and boasts over 2 million people in its metropolitan area. Among the fighters who have ties to the Vancouver area are former UFC middleweight Denis Kang and undefeated Strikeforce female fighter Sarah Kaufman.

MMA is currently sanctioned in 42 U.S. states after Massachusetts' Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill into law last month.