In mixed martial arts, athletic commissions are known for their strange policies and their iron-fisted enforcement of those policies. The latest manifestation of this reputation occurred this morning, when the Ontario Athletic Commission, who will oversee UFC 206 in Toronto, forced main card fighter Emil Meek to shave his trademark beard. Failure to do so, they said, would result in his expulsion from the card.
Meek took to Facebook to announce that he’d been asked to shave his beard early Friday morning. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t pleased by this development.
“I was just [told by the Ontario Athletic Commission] that I had to shave my beard,” a frustrated Meek said on Facebook.
“As much as I want to keep my beard, I want to fight more,” he continued.
This, of course, is not the first time this happened. The last time the UFC set up shop in Toronto, they forced lightweight veteran Pat Healy to get rid of his beard.
Shortly after Healy was forced to pick up the razor, The Ontario Athletic Commission explained this no-beard policy in a statement acquired by Erik Magraken of combatsportslaw.com. That statement read as follows:
“Office of the Athletics Commissioner (OAC) policy is to require that a fighter have no more than a light beard during competition so that it does not interfere with a doctor’s ability to evaluate a facial injury / cut. Exceptions may be applied on the basis of the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate certain fighters. This policy will be applied to UFC 165 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on September 21, 2013.”
While there is certainly some merit to this rule, the fact that few other athletic commissions have a similar policy reveals that it’s not exactly necessary. What do you think of this bizarre policy from the Ontario Athletic Commission? Is it justifiable or should it be canned? Sound off, PENN Nation!