Campbell McLaren was a founder of the UFC, in 1993. He eventually sold his interest in the company and moved on to other pursuits. In 2012, he launched the Hispanic oriented Combate Americas.
“I think of the UFC sort of as my child,” said McLaren to the Associated Press. “I saw they weren’t connecting in a real meaningful way with this fight fan base. What’s Combate Americas? It’s Fighting Americas. Plural.”
Now Combate Americas is coming back into the fold – McLaren has signed a deal to air his events on UFC Fight Pass, and in English. It begins on April 18, with the third event in the “Road To The Championship” series, which began Sept. 17, 2015, in Las Vegas.
The “Road To The Championship” is a tournament format series of events, to crown the inauguralCombate Americas champion in each weight class.
“We’re not going after guys that the UFC has let go,” said McLaren, taking a dig at the competition. “I’m not going after guys that were in the UFC I created 23 years ago.”
However, the success that Bellator has had with talent no longer competitive in the UFC should be instructive. It puts asses in seats.
America has a history of generating its own sports, with little care that there is better talent out there. F-1 racing is far faster than NASCAR. Soccer is far more popular worldwide than American football. The World Series draws from two of the world’s 196 countries. The NBA world championship teams are the same. Americans don’t seem to care that much in sports about competing with the best teams worldwide. And it may be true in MMA, too.
Bellator is planning a Big Top event in London. It will be headlined by lost-five-in-a-row Josh Koshcheck vs. booted-from-the-UFC Paul Daley. Co headline will be suspended-for-drugs-vanquisher-of-Ken-Shamrock-and-Dada5000 Kimbo Slice vs. lost-his-last-two James Thompson. We will be watching.
People want what they want, and sometimes it is not the very best.