Promotion Showcase: Combate Americas
When the UFC is putting on stellar fight cards week after week, it may be hard to keep up with smaller promotions that are showcasing the sport’s brightest prospects. Although unfortunate, the pandemic provides an opportunity to take a look at some of these burgeoning organizations. Among the most rapidly rising is Campbell McLaren’s Combate Americas, an MMA promotion aimed toward displaying primarily Hispanic talent, although the roster is indeed international.
McLaren, the CEO of Combate, is also the co-creator of the UFC, so needless to say he knows his way around the fight business. In fact, New York Magazine cited McLaren as knowing “more about the sport than just about anyone in it today.” McLaren originally conceived Combate Americas in 2013 as a reality show providing an inside look into the training regimen and fight schedule of Hispanic MMA fighters. The show featured 10 fighters from two different weight classes (featherweight and welterweight) competing in a tournament style fight competition. This may sound familiar, and it appears the show may have heavily been inspired by the UFC’s wildly successful reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
After the success of the show, Combate Americas became a full-fledged MMA promotion, holding frequent cards and building a robust roster of fighters. Most recently, McLaren announced a massive 3-year television deal with Univision and Televisa, further asserting themselves as a thriving MMA organization. Combate is also available on streaming service DAZN, which is the home to massively popular fighters like Canelo Alvarez and Tyson Fury, bringing even more eyes to the promotion. The streaming service not only provides live events, but also an archive of all prior Combate programming.
— Combate Americas (@combateamericas) March 18, 2020
Undoubtedly, McLaren’s efforts to stand his ground against larger promotions like the UFC and Bellator have paid off to some extent. Last June, Combate Americas 40 beat out both organizations in terms of weekend viewership. The card, headlined by Cooper Gibson and Ricky Palacios, had more eyes than the UFC, which featured Chan Sung Jung vs Renato Moicano and Bellator, which featured Rafael Lovato Jr. and Gegard Mousasi.
Combate Americas recently found itself in hot water after booking MMA veteran Tito Ortiz against former MMA fighter and WWE champion Alberto “El Patron” Rodriguez, aka “Alberto Del Rio.“ The announcement of the bout drew the ire of much of the MMA media, with some citing that the fight was sure to be fixed, that El Patron should not be in a cage with Ortiz, and that McLaren was simply seeking a quick cash grab. Certainly, the bout was more likely about attracting viewers to the promotion based on Rodriguez’s relative popularity in the Hispanic community. The bout went precisely as expected, with Ortiz earning a swift takedown, taking his foe’s back, and sinking in a rear-naked choke. Months after the bout, it was announced that Ortiz’s first round submission victory would be overturned for undisclosed reasons. Suddenly, the decision was again reversed, and Ortiz’s win was maintained. Ortiz recently publicly stated that a muscle relaxer caused a botched drug test, but he has since rectified the situation. This whole debacle was something of a black eye for the promotion, but luckily it is in the rear-view mirror. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding the fight are bizarre, but hopefully the bout succeeded in bringing new eyes to the company and the promotion can return to showcasing elite prospects instead of middle-aged veterans.
Some notable fighters on the Combate Americas roster you may recognize include: Tito Ortiz, Anthony Birchack, Rafa Garcia, Bruno Canetti, and Melissa Martinez. Combate Americas has announced the cancellation of three events: Combate 57, Combate 58, and Combate 59 due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, the disease will be under control in the coming months and Combate can continue the strong momentum it carried into 2020. With Professional Fighters League, a similarly burgeoning promotion rearranging its roster, gaining new investors, and signing with ESPN, it will be intriguing to see what steps Combate Americas takes in order to continue expanding and keep up with the competition.
The Combate Americas YouTube channel frequently posts full fights and events, so if this quarantine has caused you to go stir-crazy, definitely take a seat and watch some high-level MMA characterized by what has seemingly become McLaren’s catch phrase when describing the promotion: “Mucha Mas Accion.”