Rules and regulations for professional combative sports
Learn about the rules, fees and licencing requirements for contestants, promoters, officials and other participants of professional combative sports, including mixed martial arts (MMA), boxing and kickboxing.
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Ontario’s Athletics Commissioner
Ontario’s Athletics Commissioner oversees the Athletics Control Act, which sets the rules governing professional MMA, boxing and kickboxing. These rules keep participants safe and ensure the integrity of the sports.
The rules also address safety precautions required before and during an event, as well as how events are run.
The Athletics Commissioner ensures that:
- contestants undergo pre-contest medical testing (e.g., blood tests and eye exams)
- contestants undergo pre-and post-contest physicals
- experienced medical personnel and officials are appointed to attend each event
- contestants are in good standing and not under suspension
- contestants and promoters have the proper licences
The duties of the Athletics Commissioner include:
- reviewing all applications from promoters to determine if requirements are met before approving the date, location and specifics of the event
- reviewing licence applications from proposed contestants, including their standing and medical history, before issuing a licence. Ontario-based contestants receive an annual licence, while of out-of-province contestants are issued a one-event permit
- approving all proposed bouts to ensure contestants are well matched and that a contestant is not put at undue risk of injury due to a significant difference in skill or experience
- licensing all officials who preside over the events in the province. Ontario-based officials receive an annual licence (January to December), while out-of-province officials receive a one-event permit
- approving a substitute contestant in the event that a scheduled contestant can’t compete
- suspending or cancelling a licence for any event, official or contestant if there are grounds to believe that the individual won’t conduct themselves with honesty, integrity, or in accordance with the law
- conducting weigh-ins, overseeing pre-contest activities (e.g., checking the readiness of the ring or cage area, equipment, etc.) and attending each event to make sure it complies with Ontario’s rules and regulations
- ensuring the rules are followed under the Athletics Control Act and its regulation
If your licence is suspended or cancelled, you can provide additional information to support your application and request the decision be reconsidered. An applicant has the option to challenge the Athletics Commissioner’s decision in court.
Contact the Athletics Commissioner
You can contact the Athletics Commissioner at:
Athletics Commissioner’s Office
777 Bay Street, 18th Floor
Toronto ON M7A 1S5
Rules and regulations for professional combative sports
The Athletics Control Act and its regulation set out the rules governing professional MMA, boxing and kickboxing. More information the legislation and regulation can be found at:
Professional combat sport competition rules
Ontario uses the New Jersey State Rules for the conduct of professional mixed martial arts events. The rules help to ensure consistent officiating and contribute to contestants’ safety. These rules cover everything from weight classes to protective equipment.
Ontario uses the Unified Rules for Boxing approved by the Association of Boxing Commissions, for title bouts of 10 rounds or more.
The rules for boxing matches are outlined in Part II of the regulation under the Athletics Control Act.
The rules for kickboxing matches are outlined in Part III of the Athletics Control Act.
The Athletics Commissioner licenses all promoters, contestants, officials and other participants involved in professional MMA, boxing and kickboxing matches.
Licences for promoters
A promoter of a professional combative sport contest or exhibition is required to submit an event licence or permit application at least 30 days before the proposed event, along with a fee of $75 - $300, depending on venue seating capacity and municipal population.
The holder of a licence or permit to hold a professional combative sport contest may not manage contestants.
Promoters are required to meet a number of deadlines for holding a professional combative sport event.
30 days before the event, the promoter must provide:
- proof of general liability insurance, with coverage equal to or greater than $2,000,000
- a confirmation letter from the venue owner, acknowledging the premises will be available for the event
21 days before the event, the promoter must provide:
- the total amount of fees payable to officials
- a $25 non-refundable medical processing fee per contestant
- a $1,700 per contest fee to cover the costs of medical examinations and tests that may be ordered as a result of a contest
- a $2,000 deposit to guarantee payment of gate fees
- the main bout match proposal along with the contracts of the contestants
14 days before the event, the promoter must provide:
- the total amount of purse money to be paid to the contestants
- confirmation of paramedics and event security (e.g. paid duty police officers)
Three days before the event, the promoter must provide:
- the undercard match proposals along with the contracts of the contestants
Three days after the event, the promoter must provide:
- a contest or exhibition report form
- gate fees owing, minus the $2,000 deposit
Promoters must submit all proposed bouts to the Athletics Commissioner for approval.
The main event bout proposal must be submitted at least 21 days before the event. Undercard bout proposals may be submitted up to three days prior to the event. However, it is recommended that promoters submit all bout proposals well in advance of a proposed event. All bout proposals should be accompanied by the official records of the proposed contestants.
The Athletics Commissioner takes several factors into consideration when evaluating a bout proposal, including:
- the contestant’s overall record of wins and losses
- the contestant’s record in recent contests
- the nature of the wins and losses (e.g. knock-outs, technical knock-outs, submissions, etc.)
- the pattern of wins and losses
- the quality of past opponents
- amount of professional experience
- amount of amateur experience
- weight factors
- age factors
- time off from competition
- suspension/disciplinary status
Compensation for officials
Athletics Commissioner officials are paid a fee for each event, with the number of officials required increasing as the number of bouts increases. Where out-of-province referees and judges are required, fees may be higher than those set out in the table below.
Each official travelling outside of Toronto may also receive compensation for permitted out-of -pocket expenses. These include meals, mileage and accommodation, in accordance with the government’s Travel, Meals and Hospitality Expenses Directive.
|Kick-counters (Kickboxing Only)||$100|
|Ringside/Cageside Physician (Event Only)||$600|
|Ringside/Cageside Physician (Weigh-ins and Event)||$1,200|
In combative sports, the gate is the amount of money generated by ticket sales. The live gate is the total of money that is made in tickets at the venue where the event is taking place. Promoters must pay a percentage fee of the live gate to the Government of Ontario.
MMA gate fee on net ticket sales: 5%
Boxing gate fee on net ticket sales: 2%
Kickboxing gate fee on net ticket sales: 2%
Licences for contestants
Contestants who are Ontario residents are required to apply for an annual licence to participate in a professional combative sport contest. Licences are valid for up to one year, and expire on December 31st of the year they are issued.
Contestants are required to submit a licence application form (with a photo), along with a $50 application fee and the following information.
Dated within 90 days of submitting the application, you must submit:
- an initial and annual examination form signed and dated by a licensed physician
- a chest x-ray on initial examination, and as required by a physician on subsequent annual examinations
- the results of an electrocardiogram (ECG)
- the results of an electroencephalographic examination and computerized axial tomography examination (catscan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head, on initial examination
- on subsequent annual examinations, the results of an EEG or catscan or MRI of the head, alternating annually between EEG and catscan or MRI
- the results of an eye examination, including an indication that there are no holes or tears in the retina
Dated within 30 days of submitting the application, you must submit:
- the results of an HIV, Hepatitis B surface antigen and Hepatitis C test
The Office of the Athletics Commissioner requires all applications for contestant licences to be submitted a minimum of 14 days prior to participation in a professional combative sport event.
Contestants who are not Ontario residents are required to apply for a permit to participate in a professional combative sport contest. Permits are valid only for the single event that they are issued for.
Contestants are required to submit:
- a permit application form (with photo)
- a $50 application fee
- proof that you have a valid license to compete in the combative sport in another jurisdiction
- proof of current federal I.D. (for U.S. residents)
- and the information below
Dated within 90 days of the event for which the permit is issued, you must submit:
- the results of an eye examination, including an indication that there are no holes or tears in the retina, signed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist
Dated within 60 days of the event for which the permit is issued, you must submit:
- the results of a computerized axial tomography examination (catscan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head
Dated within 30 days of the event for which the permit is issued, you must submit:
- the results of an HIV, Hepatitis B surface antigen and Hepatitis C test
The Office of the Athletics Commissioner requires all applications for contestant permits to be submitted a minimum of three days prior to the event the permit is for.
If in the opinion of the ringside/cageside physician a contestant suffers an injury in a win or a loss, the Commissioner may suspend a contestant for a specified period of time. If a contestant loses by a knock-out or technical knock-out, the Commissioner is required to suspend the contestant from participating in professional combative sport for 60 days.
The Commissioner may also require the completion of medical testing recommended by the ringside/cageside physician.
The Commissioner may reinstate a contestant if they serve the full duration of the suspension and/or submit the results of the recommended medical testing and demonstrate they are medically fit to compete.
Where a contestant loses four consecutive contests, the Commissioner is required to suspend their licence.
The Commissioner may reinstate the contestant if they are able to demonstrate that they are medically fit to compete, and that they have they have sufficient skills to participate in future contests without being exposed to undue risk or injury.
Licences for officials
The Athletics Commissioner licenses the officials that oversee professional MMA, boxing and kickboxing matches in Ontario. Combative sport officials include:
- equipment examiners
- knockdown timekeepers
- kick-counters (kickboxing only)
- ringside and cageside physicians
When considering licence applications from potential officials, the Athletics Commissioner will review:
- formal training programs completed by the applicant
- the currency of the training
- the relevance of the training
- any experience officiating amateur bouts
- amateur experience as a contestant
- experience in other comparable combative sports
Combative sport officials must:
- be 18 years of age or older
- have no criminal record
- have no record of offences at any professional event
- have some experience in combative sports, which may include participating, managing or officiating
Ringside/Cageside physicians have a range of medical expertise. They range from family physicians to experts in sports medicine, cardiologists, neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons and nephrologists (kidney specialists).
Ringside/cageside physicians give medical advice as required, conduct pre-fight medical examinations, give ringside medical support during the bouts and perform post-fight medical examinations. These physicians ensure that the appropriate medical suspensions are put in place, protecting the health and safety of the contestants.
Ringside/cageside physicians must be a legally qualified medical practitioner (i.e., a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) authorized to practice medicine in Ontario.
Licenses for other participants
Other professional combative sport participants licensed by the Athletics Commissioner include managers, matchmakers and seconds.
Each participant is required to submit an application to the Athletics Commissioner, along with the applicable fee ($75 for managers, $50 for matchmakers and seconds).
Ontario residents receive an annual licence (January to December), while out-of-province residents receive a one-event permit.
Submit these forms by e-mail to email@example.com, with the applicant’s name in the subject of the e-mail.
All other participants
Submit these forms from a personal computer or mobile device by clicking on the corresponding link.
Make sure you:
Do not close the application window until you receive a message that your application has been submitted successfully.
- review the list of required documents
- have all necessary files ready to upload when submitting the application form
For iOS users, the application forms do not support file attachments at this time. You may still submit your application using the appropriate link. Please e-mail any required documents to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the applicant’s name in the subject of the e-mail. Alternatively, you can download the forms and submit them with your required documents to email@example.com, with the applicant’s name in the subject of the e-mail.
Medical examination form (To be completed and signed by a doctor. For Ontario residents, this form must be submitted together with the Licence Application Form)
Managers and matchmakers
Due to COVID‑19 protocols, the Office of the Athletics Commissioner is currently only accepting the following methods of payment:
- Phone: call
416-326-0416 to pay by credit card. Available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Mail: mail certified cheques payable to the Minister of Finance to:
- Office of the Athletics Commissioner
- 777 Bay Street, 18th Floor
Toronto ON M7A 1S5
- In-person, by appointment only: make an appointment by calling
416-326-0416or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Pay by credit card, cash or certified cheque (made payable to the Minister of Finance).