NY Post: ‘Savage’ franchise ready for its big chance

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Combate Americas and UFC co-founder and Combate Americas founder Campbell McLaren spoke recently with Hannah Withiam for the New York Post about holding the $100,000, 8-man ‘Copa Combate’ tournament, 24 years to the day after mixed martial arts began at UFC 1 with an 8-man.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do this was the first UFC was this tournament style,” said McLaren. “What’s interesting about it is if you see a fighter, an athlete go through three fights in one night, you really start to learn something about his courage, his heart, his stamina. I really do think fights are stories, they’re epic. [But] we are super careful. I did the controversy, I did no rules. I did it, it was a lot of fun, but it’s not what we’re doing now. The sport has evolved.”

While modern MMA was born from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and now finds its most dominant art to be wrestling, most of the fighters from Combate learned to strike first, and strike first in ‘La Jaula’ averaging a stoppage rate of 81%.

“The rules are the same, but you can sort of play differently under the same rules. … We were talking about the Diaz-McGregor fight being such a great fight, and I was like, ‘All my f***ing fights look like that.’ Every single fight in Combate looks like that because they’re very aggressive, they punch, they kick and they want to beat the other guy within two minutes,” said McLaren. “So it just creates a much more exciting style of fight, much less careful. You might say there’s no strategy. The strategy is beat the crap out of the other guy.”

One of the event favorites is John ‘Sexy Mexy’ Castaneda, who epitomizes the Latino style of play.

“There’s something about Latin American fighters … we’re fearless,” he explained. “A lot of us come from nothing, so we fight with absolutely everything if that makes sense. We leave it all in there, we’re not scared of anything, we’ve seen the lowest of the lows. … The Latin American style is just straight-up savage.”

“Who doesn’t want to see [a Combate Americas fight]? As an outsider and a spectator, who doesn’t want to see two guys sit there and bang and absolutely throw haymakers and give it everything that they’ve got in close quarters?”

While the fighters are savage, they also have huge hearts. When Castaneda defeated Angel Cruz at Combate Ocho on August 11, he learned his opponent was short of money and had two children, and gave him the $2,000 finishing bonus.

The UFC was on shaky ground financially when in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 1 in 2005, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar put on a fight so epic that the future of the league was assured. Saturday’s Copa Combate is designed to have the same effect.

The tournament semi-finals and finals and the women’s co-main will broadcast live on Telemundo (Spanish language) and on NBCSN (English), from Cancun, Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 11:30 p.m. ET.

The entire quarterfinal stage of the tournament, as well as the tournament alternate bout and the second women’s bout will stream live on the Telemundo Deportes En Vivo app and TelemundoDeportes.com. Coverage on NBCSN will be live streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.