Along with New York, Ontario has remained one of the most significant states/provinces in North America that has yet to regulate mixed martial arts. But not for long. Maybe I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but seemingly out of nowhere this morning Ontario issued an official statement declaring their intention to sanction and regulate mixed martial arts.

Ontario is taking steps to allow professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events in the province.

The province would adopt the same rules for professional MMA that are widely used across North America. This announcement paves the way for the first regulated professional MMA event to be held in Ontario in 2011.

“Our government has been monitoring MMA for some time,” said Minister of Consumer Services Sophia Aggelonitis. “We know that the sport has evolved and that Ontarians want to see it here. My goal is to make sure we have the tools to keep the competitors safe, and provide an economic boost to communities that want to host MMA events.”

As MMA has grown in popularity throughout the world, many cities have reaped the economic rewards of hosting events. A major MMA event in Ontario could attract up to 30,000 fans and generate up to $6 million in local economic activity – everything from hotel rooms to restaurants and other stores and services.

While MMA events provide an economic benefit, Ontario’s priority is the safety of the competitors. By regulating professional MMA Ontario could enhance the safety of all participants by ensuring explicit safety and medical standards are met at licensed events.

As you would imagine, UFC president Dana White is ecstatic about the news. He expressed that this morning all over his Twitter account.

Its done UFC is coming to ontario! Thank you premier dalton mcguinty and minister of consumer services sophia aggelontis! U 2 made it happen… Canadian UFC fans show premier dalton mcguinty and minister of consumer services sophia aggelonitis some love for making this happen!!!!!

At the moment, it’s unclear exactly when Ontario will make it official, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will be in time for Georges St. Pierre’s next welterweight title defense on Dec. 11 at UFC 124. But his following fight? Maybe. Word is the UFC has already reserved the Rogers Centre in Toronto for an unspecified date in March 2011.

Update: A thrilled Marc Ratner spoke to MMA Junkie about the news. He says the 20,000-seat Air Canada Centre is also a possible venue for the UFC’s first event in Toronto which he says will happen sometime in the first or second quarter of 2011. The UFC also plans to go to other cities in Ontario such as Hamilton, Windsor and Ottawa.