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 The unique name is a now outdated attempt to get around the old section 83 of the Criminal Code which prohibited professional combat sports outside of boxing.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 distinct 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 states 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 its enforcement appears to be inconsistent at best.
Quebec also has its own unique rules regarding judging with a breakdown of criteria distinct from the Unified Rules. These are set out in 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 are 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.