Interview: Alberto Rodriguez aka Alberto Del Rio talks about Combate Americas
Not too long ago, Combate Americas announced former WWE Champion Alberto Rodriguez (Alberto Del Rio in WWE) as its new President. The first ever Hispanic based MMA promotion, Combate Americas, was founded by the co-founder of UFC, Campbell McLaren, and recently inked a landmark deal with TV Azteca.
Last month’s event in New York was Combate America’s first, under new leadership, and as such, Del Rio is excited about his new venture. I recently caught up with “El Presidente”, and the former WWE Champion to talk about Combate Americas, and what the future has in store for him.
During our conversation, we also asked him about how he manages different aspects of his life and his thoughts on being the Dana White of Combate Americas.
Firstly, congratulations on getting engaged. How have been the past couple of weeks for you?
Well, I don’t talk about my personal life. I’m here to talk about my work with Combate Americas, and not anything related to wrestling. My personal life is my personal life, so it would be appreciated if we don’t talk anything about my girlfriend, or anything related to my personal life.
I had the opportunity to meet you and talk to you when you came down to India back in July. A lot of things have transpired in this time. Now with your association with Combate Americas, did you have the time to stop and take it all in?
Of course. My main focus is Combate Americas. My new passion is Combate Americas. That’s where my new home is. Of course, I’m going to continue doing pro wrestling shows, but now I’m just going to do it - probably 2 or 3 times a month.
I’m going to be completely involved in all the decisions of the company (Combate Americas), especially when it comes to finding and developing talent. We want to produce fighters who are great athletes and great fighters, but we also want them to entertain the fans. We want them to peak the interest (in the product).
The promotion came out with a strong card recently. Now talking about your signing, what was the biggest influence/reasoning in you taking this step?
Well, as you know, I’ve been involved in mixed martial arts since I was little. I was an amateur wrestler, and I represented my country in different tournaments through the years. I was a part of the national team in my country Mexico, then I became a pro wrestler, and then I became an MMA fighter. I fought in Japan, I fought in South America, I fought in Korea, and I fought in Mexico.
Because of that, Campbell McLaren tried to make me a part of this organisation a year ago, when they had their first event in Las Vegas. Of course, at that time, I was a part of the announcing team, and they did such a great job there with the network.
My friend and my boss, Campbell McLaren, decided to invite me to be a part of this amazing company one more time, especially knowing that I was leaving WWE.
We’re good friends. We’re always talking about my plans and during one of those conversations, I told him I was going to leave WWE, that I was not happy in that company anymore. And he said, “Alberto amigo, if one day you decide to leave that place, give me a call, and I will have the right projects for you”, and the rest is history.
I left WWE; it was me, it was my decision.
It was me leaving that company, not the other way round. I didn’t want to be there anymore. Left the company, started having conversations with other pro wrestling organisations and also with Combate Americas.
They presented me with the project - I read the project, and they explained the decisions of Combate Americas, and what they’re planning on doing - in Latin America especially, in Mexico. And I decided to join the team.
You told me a couple of months ago that you have retired as an MMA fighter. Now with you once again stepping into this field, does it still stand? Or is there a possibility of you donning the MMA gloves once again?
No, not at all. My years as an MMA fighter are way gone. That was when I was younger, and that was when I was hungry to fight. It was pretty much 10 - 12 years ago. Of course, I love MMA, and I’m going to be part of this organisation, helping the new talents to be the next superstars. But no, I’m not planning on fighting anymore.
What do you think about the potential of MMA in Mexico/Latin America?
Well, MMA is growing in Latin America. Of course, we need to take Combate Americas and the sport of MMA (to Latin America) so that the fans can get to know the sport. But in Mexico, just because they’re so close to the United States, they get everything from the companies in the United States.
Of course, we are bringing in a different product; we want to be our own brand. We’re not trying to copy or be like anybody else. We have our own personality, and that’s why I’m 100% sure that all the MMA fans around the world - and especially in Latin America - are going to embrace the company.
How is the company’s product different, to what promotions like UFC and Bellator MMA put out?
Yeah, because Latins they fight! (Laughs) They don’t have boring fights. When you have two Latinos fighting in the cage, you know something good is going to happen. Latin fighters, they always bring the fight. They put all their passion, all their heart - everything they have; they bring it, and they leave it in the ring or the cage every time they’re out there.
They want to prove to the world why Latinos are so good.
You continue to pursue different projects outside of MMA. How difficult or strenuous is it for you to manage all of the work?
Ah, well, it’s really difficult because this is the first time in the administrative part of the business. I have always been a competitor, and this is the first time I have the opportunity to - not just being a competitor, but also help the company grow. And the part that I like the most is the opportunity to work with all of these new fighters.
In Combate Americas, all of our fighters are amazing, and the world - it’s just a few weeks or months away from finding out how good the fighters in Combate Americas are. But I want to show the world - not only the fans - the talent; I want to show the world how the talent in Combate Americas can be superstars, and they’re going to give a lot to talk (about) shortly.
How have you adapted to the administrative/management role in Combate Americas?
I’m still in the learning process. Again, this is the first time for me working in the administrative part of the business. And that is why my friend and boss, Campbell McLaren has put this amazing thing together, to help each other - to take this company where we want to take.
I already said we’re going to be the number one company in Latin America in a year, and number two company in the United States in two years.
This cannot be possible if you don’t have a great team behind the project, and that’s exactly what we have in Combate Americas. From the social media department to the administrative department, the creative part of the company, the talent part of the company — it’s an amazing thing.
That’s why I’m 100 percent sure that each and everything I’m saying is going to happen for sure.
When is the next event, and what can the fans expect from it?
Yes, the first event for me as the President of the company was just a few days ago in New York, and it was an amazing experience - an amazing event. It was a very important event for me. I think I did a very good job in my first week as the President of the company.
Now we have an event in Los Angeles; that’s going to be our next stop. We have a series of events, a series of appearances, and those are going to be in Los Angeles in December.
And we have the first show of Combate Americas outside of the United States in January. This is going to be in Mexico City, with our new business partner - TV Azteca. It’s going to be the debut of Combate Americas, a live event in my country, my homeland. Everybody’s really excited about this.
I’m really excited about this. And I’m sure we’re going to be doing business for many, many years with TV Azteca, and with different countries in Latin America.
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