Archive for the ‘Quebec MMA Law’ Category

The UFC’s jurisdiction hopping business model exposes the promotion to a host of different regulatory requirements.  The peculiarities in different jurisdictions create a variety of legal issues stakeholders must grapple with, for example the requirement to pay a headliner at least 10% of event receipts in Nova Scotia or Quebec’s bizzare rules of ‘mixed boxing’ that seem to be happily ignored for the UFC.

With UFC 186 scheduled to take place in Montreal later this month I had a quick refresher of Quebec’s Regulation Respecting Combat Sports.  Of interest for all fighters under a long term contract, Quebec imposes a host of legal requirements for such contracts to be valid.  Since the UFC has much of its roster under long term deals, the relevant protections set out in s. 169 and 169.1 come into play.  These read as follows with the most interesting provisions reproduced in bold:

169.  Any contract that binds a contestant and an organizer for more than 1 combat sports event shall not run for more than 2 years. The organizer shall send a copy of such contract to the board within 10 days following its signing along with any amendment to the contract, not later than before the holding of the sports event.
169.1.  A contract binding an organizer and a contestant for more than one sports event shall provide for or stipulate, in particular,
  (1)    the duration of the contract and the number of scheduled bouts;
  (2)    the amount of the purse for each bout;
  (3)    the renegotiation of the contestant’s remuneration if the contestant takes part in a championship bout before the end of his contract; the renegotiation will involve, in particular, the contestant’s remuneration and the expenses relating to sparring partners and training camps;
  (4)    that the organizer may not charge more than 10% of the contestant’s purse if he provides him with the services of a trainer;
  (5)    that the organizer undertakes to pay all the contestant’s travel expenses if a bout is to take place outside Québec;
  (6)    except if the contract is cancelled, that the contestant undertakes not to sign a contract with another organizer before the expiry date of the contract;
  (7)    that the organizer undertakes not to transfer his rights to a third person, unless the contestant agrees to the transfer and benefits from at least 80% of the difference between the consideration paid for the transfer of the rights for each bout and the amount of the purse to which the contestant is entitled for each bout; and
  (8)    the cancellation of the contract
  (a)      if the organizer’s or contestant’s licence is cancelled or suspended for the unexpired duration of the contract; or
  (b)      if the contestant is declared unfit to fight following a medical examination for the unexpired duration of the contract.
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Assuming the language from Eddie Alvarez’s 2012 Contract is used routinely, UFC contracts contain specific language requiring fighters to ‘execute and comply’ with the requirements of Bout Agreements from the jurisdiction governing their bout.  The requirement  includes an agreement to comply with “any other contract required to be executed by law” (ie – in Quebec the above).  More importantly, the contracts state “to the extent of any conflict between (a UFC Contract) and a Bout Agreement with respect to a Bout, the Bout Agreement shall control“.  In other words; the above statutory requirements may trump any contradictory terms of a UFC Contract in Quebec.

So how can any offending terms be reconciled?  UFC Contracts deal with this as well reading that if there are any offending terms in the contract in any circumstance, and if these offending provisions cannot be modified in a way to make them legal, valid and enforceable then “the offending provision…shall be considered deleted“.

While its fun to make light of Quebec turning a blind eye to their bizarre ‘mixed boxing’ rules to accommodate the UFC, the regulations regarding contractual requirements would be no laughing matter if a fighter was displeased and took advantage of Quebec’s legal requirements to challenge contracts that don’t include all of the above protections.

As recently discussed, the Province of Quebec has not legalized professional MMA under the Unified Rules but instead adopted a peculiar cousin of the sport known as “Mixed Boxing“.

Perhaps more interestingly, as John McCarthy confirms, Quebec’s Athletic Commission instructs its officials to ignore their own rules when the UFC comes to town.

John McCarthy Quote Re Quebec MMA

 

 

 

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I repeatedly criticize this situation for the simple reason that if Quebec wants these to be the law of the land they should make the necessary amendments, not instruct government licensed officials to ignore their own laws.

So how many of Quebec’s own Rules were broken during the TUF Nations Finale?  By my count dozens on the main card alone , some of which are capable of overturning the result of the bout which is no insignificant oversight.

While I am not criticizing the combatants or the referees, as they are instructed to ignore Quebec’s laws by the Athletic Commission (the very body created to uphold their combat sports laws), it is noteworthy to document how many Quebec rules are simply overlooked during an MMA bout.  Using the Rules highlighted in my previous post (The Knockdown Rule, No Strikes to the Knee, No Knee or Elbow Strikes, No Standing Chokes or Submissions)  here is the main card breakdown on a bout by bout basis:

Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy

This bout was fairly pure under Quebec rules although there were a few transgressions.  In the first round Kennedy gets Bisping in a bodylock and delivers a few knee strikes to the back of Bisping’s legs in violation of Quebec Rule 195.28(12).  He then delivers a few short elbows on the ground in violation of this same rule.

In the second round we see a flying knee delivered by Bisping violating this rule.

The third round again was fairly clean although there were a few Elbows thrown by Kennedy from the mount and side control positions.

The last two rounds were fairly uneventful save a few more prohibited knee strikes thrown to the back of Bisping’s legs.

Patrick Cote vs. Kyle Noke

The first round begins with Noke delivering a few kicks to Cote’s knees in violation of  Rule 195.13.  From there he delivers a knee from the clinch and a further knee after the fighter’s separate.   Cote then spends much of the time in Note’s guard where Cote delivers a series of heavy elbows and Note responds with a few of his own.

The second round begins with Note dropping Cote with a prohibited knee to the head.  From there he is allowed to continue with strikes instead of retiring to a neutral corner as required by Rule 195.9.  After Cote rises Note delivers both a stomp kick and roundhouse kick to Cote’s knee.  Cote responds and after getting into Note’s guard Cote delivers more prohibited elbows and then knees as Note gets back to his feet.  The round ends with Note delivering more prohibited kicks to Cote’s knees.

The last round saw more of the same in terms of Quebec rules violations with Note delivering a few stomps and kicks to Cote’s knees, Cote then delivered a series of elbows while on the ground and lastly a few knee strikes after Note got back to his feet.

Sam Stout vs. KJ Noons

Although this bout was on the under-card it re-aired during the main card.  For this reason I will include it.  The bout was short but both combatants landed prohibited low kicks to each other’s knees in the opening seconds.  From there Sam Stout was dropped by a significant overhand right by Noons. Noons was not asked to retire to a neutral corner as required by Quebec law and instead was allowed to finish the bout with a series of strikes which followed the knockdown blow.

Sheldon Westcott vs. Elias Theodorou

The bout begins with each fighter exchanging a few prohibited knee strikes.   After a stint on the ground Theodorou rises with Westcott keeping his back who then attempts a Rear Naked Choke from the standing position which violates Rule 195.28(20) and 195.30.  The combatants then exchange a series of prohibited knees.  Each fighter throws at lest one more more kick to their opponents knees.   The second round has a great flurry of strikes to Westcott which ultimately lead to the end of the bout, included in these were a series of elbow strikes which are prohibited under Quebec law.

Chad Laprise vs. Oliver Aubin-Mercier

This bout was largely uneventful under Quebec’s Mixed Boxing Rules as it played out mostly as a pure kickboxing affair.  There were, however, a series of prohibited kicks by Laprise to Aubin-Mercier’s knees throughout the bout along with at least two attempted knee strikes to Aubin-Mercier’s head which appeared to make grazing contact.

Dustin Poirier vs. Akira Corassani

In the first round Poirier throws several kicks Corassani’s knee area all without a discretionary rest period.  Poirer threw a prohibited knee from the clinch.  Shortly after Corasani dropped Poirier with a punch and was not instructed “to retire to the farthest corner”.

Poirier then took Corassani down with a headlock violating the rule against standing submission attempts.  This was followed by a prohibited knee by Corrasani.  Lastly, the bout ends after Poirier drops Corassani with a body shot who then continued to land shots on the downed opponent instead of being asked to retire to the farthest corner.

 

TUF Nations Finale Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The TUF Nations Finale on April 16, 2014 will legally be governed by Quebec’s Regulation Regarding Combat Sports .  These regulations don’t actually approve MMA under the unified rules, instead the Province has legalized a unique sport known as “mixed boxing”.   As previously highlighted, these call for some significant variations from the Unified Rules.

But there’s no need to worry UFC fans, as you’ll get a familiar show with the TUF Nations finale as the Quebec Commission has a track record of telling officials to ignore their actual rules when the big show comes to town.

What differences do Quebec’s actual rules have from the Unified Rules?  They include the following peculiarities:

The Definition:

195.1.  

“mixed boxing” means a combat sport during which contestants of the same sex fight standing or on the mat; when they fight standing, the contestants use kickboxing techniques unless modified in this Chapter; when they fight on the mat, the only permitted submission techniques are those described in this Chapter.

The Knockdown Rule:

195.9.  Where a contestant has been knocked down, the referee shall instruct the opponent to retire to the farthest corner, which the referee shall indicate by pointing.

The referee may stop the bout and declare the opponent the winner when a contestant is no longer able to defend himself adequately.

No Strikes to the Knee:

195.13.  Where a contestant receives a blow to the genitals or to the knee, the referee may interrupt the bout and allow up to 5 minutes for recovery.

If the contestant does not continue the bout after that delay, the referee shall:

 (1)    following a blow to the genitals, indicate that the contestant has lost by abandonment;

 (2)    following a blow to the knee, disqualify his opponent.

 

The Judging Criteria:

195.18.  The judge shall base his decision on the effectiveness of the contestants, taking into account the following factors:
  (1)    a blow struck to any vulnerable part of the body;
  (2)    aggressiveness, as demonstrated by the contestant’s forcing the fight during the round by making the greater number of attacks;
  (3)    conspicuous ring generalship, that is, skill in swiftly taking advantage of all opportunities offered, and the ability to cope with all situations as they arise, to foresee and neutralize the opponent’s attacks and to adopt a style with the opponent is not particularly comfortable;
  (4)    defence by skillful evasions and parries; and
  (5)    the ability for a contestant to take down an opponent on the mat.

 No Knee or Elbow Strikes:

195.28.  When the contestants are fighting, each of the following acts constitutes a foul:

  (12)    hitting an opponent with the bent knee or bent elbow;

No Standing Chokes or Submissions:

195.28.  When the contestants are fighting, each of the following acts constitutes a foul:

  (20)    grabbing an opponent by the throat.

195.30.  Where opponents are fighting on the mat, arm or leg holds as well as strangulation are permitted.

Appreciating the above, the question is will the Quebec Athletic Commission follow their own rules or will they turn a blind eye again to the laws of their Province for the UFC?

Quebec Regie TRT TUE Response Letter

With the UFC coming to Quebec City for the TUF Nations Finale on April 16, 2014, I contacted the Quebec Athletic Commission (The Regie des alcools, des courses at des jeux) to determine if they have followed Nevada’s lead by banning TRT TUE’s or if these are still available in Quebec.

Section 71.1 of Quebec’s Regulation Regarding Combat Sports specifically adopts the WADA prohibited list when it comes to Performance Enhancing Drugs.  The Regulations do not specifically address the availability of TUE’s so I reached out to the Regie and asked what polices they have  in force with respect to Therapeutic Use Exemptions for Testosterone Replacement Therapy and other prohibited substances.  I requested a copy of their written policy and the standards required in order to obtain a TUE.  The Regie’s answer, which I reproduce in full, is nothing short of perplexing.

The Regie responded as follows

Dear Sir, The Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux is sensitive to the practices regarding combat sports that are applied elsewhere in the world.  All legislative and regulatory changes are the results of government commitment“.

So, are TRT TUE’s still available in Quebec and are any in place for the TUF Nations finale?  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

quebec flag

In my ongoing efforts canvassing some of the legal oddities across Canada with respect to MMA regulation today I turn my attention to Quebec.

Quebec has a long history of hosting combat sports events but a peek into their legal framework reveals that the sport of MMA is not actually legal but instead the sport of “mixed boxing” is.  The unique name is a now outdated attempt to get around the old section 83 of the Criminal Code which prohibited professional combat sports outside of boxing.  Looking into the regulations of Mixed Boxing reveals it is a sport which in fact is MMA but with a set of rules unique to Quebec.

Quebec has legalized professional combat sports under their Act Respecting Safety in Sports.  Section 2 of the Act makes it apply specifically to Professional Combat Sports.   Section 55.3 of the Act allows regulations to be created covering a number of topics including establishing “standards concerning the organization and holding of a sports event“.

Further to this provision the Regulation Respecting Combat Sports was passed.  Chapter 11.1 of the Regulation deals with Quebec’s version of MMA, namely ‘mixed boxing” which is defined as  “a combat sport during which contestants of the same sex fight standing or on the mat; when they fight standing, the contestants use kickboxing techniques unless modified in this Chapter; when they fight on the mat, the only permitted submission techniques are those described in this Chapter.”

When you peek into the rules permitted by Chapter 11 it becomes clear that professional MMA in Quebec is in fact a somewhat distint version of the sport with its own peculiar rules.  Below is a breakdown of some of these.

First, MMA in Quebec can take place in a ring or a cage, however the cage has to be “an octagon”.  Promotions that don’t use an octagon will run afoul of this requirement and given the UFC’s intellectual property rights to this design this is certainly an interesting statutory provision.

Another peculiarity arises in section 195.9 which is a knockdown rule.  It sates that “Where a contestant has been knocked down, the referee shall instruct the opponent to retire to the farthest corner, which the referee shall indicate by pointing.”   Does anyone recall this being enforced during any of the UFC events hosted in Quebec?

While recovery time following a groin strike is standard fair in the rules of MMA, Quebec law gives the same grace period for knee strikes with section 195.13 stating “Where a contestant receives a blow to the genitals or to the knee, the referee may interrupt the bout and allow up to 5 minutes for recovery.”  Again, this is a clear rule yet it’s enforcement appears to be inconsistent at best.

Quebec also has their own unique rules regarding judging with a breakdown of criteria distinct from the Unified Rules.  These are set out at section 195.18 and are worth contrasting with judging criteria under the Unified Rules.

Lastly, Quebec law makes certain common MMA techniques illegal.  Section 195.28(12) makes it a foul to hit “an opponent with the bent knee or bent elbow“.  Subsection 20 makes it a foul to grab “an opponent by the throat“.  Interestingly section 195.30 overrides this to make “strangulation” permitted but only when fighting on the mat.  So, no knees, elbows or standing chokes allowed in Quebec!  Section 195.29 goes on to create some restrictions for takedowns which also appear to be unique to Quebec.

Quebec Mixed Boxing is certainly a mixed bag.