Exclusive: Alberto Del Rio on his "Combate Americas 51" fight against Tito Ortiz, career goals & more
Combate Americas is the world’s premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts sports and media franchise. Coming up on Saturday, December 7, 2019 is Combate Americas 51, an 11-bout fight card headlined by the "Tito vs. Alberto" main event at McAllen, Texas' Payne Arena.
The "Tito" in the "Tito vs. Alberto" fight is, of course, Tito Ortiz, the UFC Hall of Famer and former World Light Heavyweight champion. The "Alberto" is a multiple-time WWE Heavyweight Champion and former WWE, PRIDE and DEEP MMA star (and current Combate Americas favorite) Alberto Del Rio.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Alberto Del Rio by phone on December 3, 2019, about his work with Combate Americas, training to fight Tito Ortiz, staying in shape long-term, keeping busy, and his long-term career plans.
A recording of the full interview is embedded below in advance of its airing on the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast, while part of the interview has been transcribed exclusively for Sportskeeda.
On doing MMA well before his WWE career, and whether he had wanted to do MMA from day one:
Alberto Del Rio: No, I'm a third-generation pro-wrestler. Pro-wrestling is the family business. My grandfather started the tradition in the family, followed by my father, uncle, cousins... When I was little, I thought I needed to be a great amateur-wrestler in order to become a pro-wrestler. That's why I started at an early age with amateur-wrestling.
Then from amateur, I became a professional-wrestler, then I went to Japan to do MMA for 6 years, competed in Japan. That's another thing, people think I'm just jumping from pro-wrestling to MMA... But that's not the case. I did 5, 6 years in Japan, competed in the most prestigious organizations in Japan at the time, PRIDE -- when the UFC wasn't what it was today, the #1 company was PRIDE and I was in Japan fighting for that organization. Then that's where WWE found me and the rest is history.