The Vancouver City Council has passed by a 6-3 vote a resolution to regulate mixed martial arts for a two-year period, paving the way for major shows including a promised June 2010 UFC event.
"In the final analysis I do think we have to regulate this," said city councillor Tim Stevenson in voting for sanctioning. "In this society there are certain things that I might not agree with but the best way to deal with these is to regulate them. That's what we're doing and I think a two-year deal is the best way to do that."
No professional MMA event has been sanctioned in Vancouver since September 2007.
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. Last month, Vancouver sanctioned two amateur events to give city Council members an up-close look at the sport.
Vancouver has long been one of the UFC's top targets for an event. The city 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. After the two year-period, the city council will vote on permanent sanctioning.
MMA is currently sanctioned in 42 U.S. states after Massachusetts' Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill into law last month.