The UFC may be headed to Vancouver in June after all.
One day after an informed source said the show could end up in Cincinnati instead, the UFC’s vice-president of regulatory affairs said negotiations continue to stage UFC 115 at GM Place on June 12.
“The demise of the fight has been greatly exaggerated,” Marc Ratner told The Canadian Press from Las Vegas on Tuesday. “And we are still working on it.
“We’re working with the mayor, with the city council, trying to come to an agreement and I still feel strongly, as I’ve been saying over and over again, I’m still bullish on June 12 as the date.”
That’s encouraging news to Vancouver officials like Coun. Kerry Jang, who was caught by surprise by reports Monday that the show was on rocky ground.
“We didn’t hear anything directly (from the UFC),” he said. “My phone lit up and I went ’What the heck?”’
Jang says the sticking point for the show is between the city and insurers and the province, not the UFC.
“Absolutely,” said Jang. “That’s why we were just dumbfounded when all this stuff started to come out in the media about it being cancelled and UFC was this (and that). It’s really not (the) UFC. We’ve been working with them closely for three months now to work out these issues.”
In fact, Jang says the UFC has been “really helpful” in trying to remove obstacles to the show.
While no one is saying so publicly, it appears the city got a nudge from the mixed martial arts juggernaut Monday.
Sort out the small print or we will go elsewhere.
“Where these reports came from, I don’t know,” Jang said. “Everybody’s suspecting maybe somebody was trying to wrap it up or trying to push the negotiations along. But we’re very clear, we won’t put the city of Vancouver at risk.
“The province has to come forward and help us out here. Otherwise, if we can’t reach an agreement, it goes to Cincinnati or wherever they want to go. They can come back when the law’s changed.”
Jang says the problem is that the province of B.C., unlike Quebec which has already staged two UFC shows, has not agreed to provide the city with indemnity, meaning the city cannot be sued “for any reason arising from one of these events.”
While the UFC would have to provide insurance, the city has had to look into additional insurance in the form of $10 million in third-party liability, according to Jang. GM Place would also need insurance.
Complicating the matter is the Criminal Code does not provide an exemption for MMA, as it does boxing.
“The sticking point, as I understand it from our staff, is we need assurances in writing that a claim would not be denied because of the old and antiquated Criminal Code provision,” Jang said.
“The question is now how do we get the insurance companies to provide us with that assurance and that’s where the negotiation is now.”
UFC president Dana White said this week he couldn’t comment on any specific issues with Vancouver.
But Ratner said the UFC is helping with the issue of indemnity and insurance.
“We’re working on both of those things. I’m just very confident. Whenever that day is, whether it’s today or tomorrow, we’re going to get this done.”