The sport had to jump through plenty of hoops to get approval in Ontario, so it was good to hear the first MMA show in the Canadian province was run professionally. Trainers, fighters and media members in attendance said Saturday’s "MMA: Day of Reckoning" at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, came off as a big-time show.
The main event featured former UFC fighter Josh Burkman. He gave props to the promoters and regulators.
"They were strict but they weren’t overbearing by any means," Burkman told Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press. "They just make sure that the show’s ran right and the fighters are taken care of. And I have no problems with the way they do the testing and the physicals and the bloodwork. As a fighter, you want those things to be lined up the proper way so fighters are healthy and taken care off."
"It’s very organized, it’s very nicely done, it’s very fair. But at the same time, it’s not that easy to just be a fighter in Ontario. There are certain things you have to go through… . I’ve fought in many provinces before and it was much easier to go through all the medicals, all the tests, and all of that," said Cirkunov.
The commission also went the extra mile by bringing some of the more established referees in the industry. "Big" John McCarthy also thought the event came off as first-rate.
"It’s time for MMA here and it’s great that the Ontario Athletics Commission is now going to be running the events, sanctioning everything and showing everybody what MMA is really all about," McCarthy said. "It really doesn’t matter what promotion it is or anything like that. It’s about putting the right fighters together that put on great fights and I think in those two (main and co-main event) fights alone, you’re going to see what MMA is all about."
Referees Yves Lavigne and Dan Miragliotta also worked the event.
Burkman lost his fight to 21-year-old Jordan Mein. Burkman is now 3-1 since being cut by the UFC. He was a cast member on "The Ultimate Fighter 2." Another UFC vet Chris Horodecki was victorious over David Castillo.
Davidson reported the show sold out with 5,000 squeezing into the casino’s concert auditorium. The promoter Robert Waterman recently changed his focus from boxing to MMA. He saw immediate gains. His recent boxing shows at Casino Rama were only drawing 3,000.
SportsNet.ca did play-by-play for all the fights.