Four-time WWE champion and retired MMA competitor, Alberto El Patron aka Alberto del Rio will be taking on a brand new role tonight as color commentator for Latin MMA promotion Combate Americas, headed up by UFC co-founder, Campbell McLaren. Del Rio first started out in MMA back in 2001 for the DEEP organization in Japan. He went on to fight in Pride FC a couple of times, one of which was a bout with current UFC heavyweight star, Mirko Filipovic. He rounded out his mixed martial arts career in 2010, and hasn't competed since.
During that time, Alberto launched a superstar pro wrestling career and carried the WWE gold on four separate occasions. He also has a couple other championship titles from independent organizations and is the only man in WWE history to win both the Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble in the same calendar year.
Now, El Patron will be taking on a more serious role as color commentator for Combate Americas. Combate Americas will launch their debut show tonight, a solid card that boasts a slew of up and coming stars. In case you're wondering, the promotion features both male and female fighters in their line-up.
Recently, Stephie Haynes caught up with del Rio to discuss his role for Combate Americas, and touch on a few bits of his sports-entertainment history. Here's what he had to say:
SH: It's been speculated for months that you would make a return to MMA once you found the right promotion. Now that you've signed with a promotion in a commentary role, we're all still wondering if you will be competing at some point, as well. Can you comment on that?
ADR: I don't think I'm going to be competing in any MMA organization because it was all about money. Of course I love the sport and everything, but you have to be rewarded at the end of the day, and I couldn't find a company who wanted to pay me what I was asking for.
Combate Americas made me a great offer to be part of their team in a different role than being in the ring, and I'm pretty happy and excited about this new chapter in my life.
I love Combate Americas. We are a show that is gonna be for everybody. Our target is the Latin community, but it's a show for everybody. All the fighters are talented, they're hungry and now they have a company that's ready to give them a platform to show their talent to the world.
SH: There have always been rumors of "amateur" bouts taking place backstage among some of the more decorated wrestlers, Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle being an infamous one. Who's the most impressive guy you've seen in one of those backstage contests? Did you ever participate in any of those backstage matches?
ADR: I would say Kurt Angle. He's a great person and an amazing athlete. Everybody in the business respects Kurt.
Sometimes I would get in on them [laughs]. It's a contact sport, and there's egos and occasional personal problems, and that would make us go crazy sometimes. It's been awhile since I participated in one of those backstage bouts, though.
SH: You started in DEEP and had Pride fights. Did anyone ever approach you about working an MMA match (i.e., not a shoot)?
ADR: I heard of them, but in my particular case, I never had anyone approach me like that. I never had anybody come to me and offer me money for this or for that. I also never saw it happen to anybody else. I'm not sure if they did it or not, but it's professional sports, sometimes we have dirty people running the business and dirty people trying to ruin the sport.
SH: As a fellow MMA veteran who started fighting at roughly the same time, what's your take on Fedor Emelianenko coming out of retirement to compete in MMA again?
ADR: To be honest, I respect all fighters, especially someone like Fedor. He's a legend. He has done so much for this sport, that I don't think he has to return. He has nothing to prove. I know he did pretty well making money in Japan, so I don't know if this is just a money problem or if he's just tired of being at home and not doing anything [laughs].
People who retire, especially legends like him or like Mirko, who for some crazy reason decide to return years later, they tend not to do so well. I don't know if that's gonna be the case with Fedor—I hope he does well—but in my opinion, they should stay home and let us enjoy everything they did for the sport, let us enjoy the legends they are.
Yesterday marked Mexican Independence Day, making today such a perfect date to unveil this promotion to the MMA public. You can check out Combate Americas tonight at 11 PM EST / 8 PM PST live on NBC Universo tonight.