Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Montreal Fight League (MFL) is labeled an “amateur” mixed martial arts promotion; the organization never fails to deliver in a professional manner despite countless roadblocks.
While the legality of amateur MMA in the province of Quebec is a hot topic of contention, one organization spearheaded by founder/CEO Maz Mas nevertheless shows a great deal of gratitude:
“If it weren’t for the Indigenous Peoples and their generosity, there would be no such thing as the ‘Montreal Fight League’. Everybody– from the fighters to the trainers and the promoters– were completely blindsided by the government of Quebec’s decision to ban amateur mixed martial arts, but the government fails to see the benefits of such events.”
Once upon a time, feuds between rival promoters led to the banning of such highly-popular events and as Maz mentions, they can only take place on reserves:
“They’ve opened their doors to us and their hospitality is second-to-none. They’ve offered fight fans an opportunity to witness the future of mixed martial arts– the guys and girls who are working to become professionals. The fighters need the Montreal Fight League to help propel their careers in the right direction, and we’re thankful to journalists like yourself that give them a chance to promote themselves and conduct interviews to establish their names and personalities.”
Unlike certain team sports, mixed martial artists are encouraged to individually brand themselves. At times, the gyms that they train out of can help them with their credibility, but that’s often insufficient by itself. In a world where social media is a useful tool, promotions like the Montreal Fight League could be exactly what amateur fighters need in order to gain recognition.
Just ask Coach Sandro Ferr of the internationally-renowned Tristar Gym in Montreal, who has worked closely with legendary UFC fighters such as Georges St-Pierre and Vitor Belfort:
“We need more orgaizations like this. We need people that will take over the amateur scene, and to showcase the up-and-comers. Probably, the next ‘Georges St-Pierre‘ will come out of the Montreal Fight League. The MFL deserves credit because it gives these fighters a podium. We have a lot of talent here in Quebec, but we don’t have enough organizations or people to unite and help out these fighters.”
Ferr echoes a sentiment that is widely adopted by mixed martial artists in the province. One of his very own pupils, Felicia O’Dea, is a proponent of all things MMA-related and fondly believes that the communal aspect of mixed martial arts cannot be overstated and, in part, empowers men and women alike:
“After my (first) victory, I asked myself: ‘what can I give back to my community– what can I give back to my family and the people who helped me with my success?’ I’ve been with Maz since his first MFL event, whose success inadvertently led to MMA being illegal. The only place where we can compete is right here on the reserves, which can be problematic due to distance and other factors. Amateur combat sports make us better people. It makes women stronger and empowered, it makes us feel safe and that we have something (sic). And men as well– we’re fighting to be our best selves, not to be violent or to be better than anyone else. We’re fighting to improve our community. We’re trying to get together and make MMA legal in Quebec.”
Fight fans will be thrilled to learn that on April 18th, 2018, the Province of Quebec made amateur kickboxing legal again pursuant to section 83 of the Criminal Code, subsection 1. Much like these kickboxing events, professional medical staff are present at all of MFL’s shows.
“Once a brick falls, the others follow suit. If (kickboxing) is legal, why can’t (amateur MMA) be? It doesn’t make sense. I know that one day it will be legal, we just need to get our message out there. They need to see how it makes our lives better; if they see how it makes men and women better, how it brings communities together and how it re-teaches us the values of family, there’s no reason why it should be illegal.”
Stone On Sports will keep a close eye on the legality of combat sports in Quebec and will continue to cover Montreal Fight League events to the best of its capacities.
In the meantime, recaps, interviews, and highlights of May 19th’s MFL 6 event will be added to the official Stone On Sports YouTube page shortly.