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Mixed Martial Arts "Mecca" Shuns Sport

This story was written by GlobalPost's Sandro Contenta
If you believe Dana White, the charismatic president of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the urge to reduce someone to a bloody pulp dates back to the beginning of human time.

"Fighting was the first sport," White told some 300 adoring fans at a downtown mall in Toronto last week.

"Two men were put on this Earth and somebody threw a punch. And if people were around, they watched it - you know what I mean?

"I don't care what color you are, what country you're from or what language you speak - at the end of the day we're all human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it," White said.

The problem for White and his sport, known as mixed martial arts (MMA), is that the government of Canada's most populous province doesn't buy his gospel. In Ontario, the sport is banned - both amateur tournaments and professional bouts.

You might think that the Las Vegas-based head of UFC, the most successful, privately-owned organization in what has been described as the fastest growing sport in the United States, wouldn't give a swift kick about Ontario's unwelcoming position. You'd be wrong.

White describes the province as the biggest UFC market in North America, judging by the number of pay-per-view subscribers for UFC fights and the number of Ontario fans who travel across the continent to attend UFC bouts. Ontario, he says, is the "Mecca" of mixed martial arts - a whirlwind mix of jiu-jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing and wrestling.

In short, there is money - lots of it - to be made here. And that's why the 40-year-old White, bald and muscular, found himself pitching the sport in a Toronto mall, welcomed as a rock star by the converted, but given the cold shoulder by skeptical politicians.

Read the full GlobalPost story here.