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Alberto El Patron wants to ‘repay’ Combate Americas for support in ‘nightmare’ custody battle

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Alberto El Patron is fiercely loyal and his decision to fight Tito Ortiz is as much about giving back to Combate Americas as it is about testing himself.

Alberto El Patron Alberto Del Rio Tito Ortiz Combate Americas UFC MMA News WWE AEW Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images

There are many layers to Alberto El Patron’s return to mixed martial arts. It is about proving to himself that he can still compete. It’s also probably financially motivated. Most significantly he says, however, it is about loyalty.

Alberto (9-5) fights Tito Ortiz (20-12-1) at Combate Americas on Dec. 7. He opened up to Bloody Elbow about what stoked his return to mixed martial arts for the first time since 2010.

“I got divorced and the whole process of my divorce. The nightmare of the custody battle of my children. It took a lot from me and put me in a really bad place. In my heart, my soul and my mind. Back in those days, I had amazing people fighting those battles with me, shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back. One of those people was Campbell McLaren, the owner of Combate Americas, he supported me 100%” Alberto shared. “This organization is like my family....everybody was there for me. Once I put all of that behind, you start rethinking about your life and all the things you’ve been doing. That’s when I said to myself, ‘you’ve always been a stand-up man. You pay loyalty with loyalty. So what can I do to repay this company? Repay these people?’”

“Also, all those things I experienced during that difficult time made me feel hungry again. Made me hungry for more success, to try it again, to prove to myself that I’m still that great athlete and competitor,” he continued. “One more fight, one last fight.”

Alberto, 42, is fully aware of how much the fight landscape has changed since his bouts in PRIDE and beyond. That is why he traveled to Power MMA in Arizona to train with Bellator champ-champ Ryan Bader and CB Dolloway months in advance of his fight.

“The sport has evolved and changed in a totally different way from when I was fighting in Japan. It was totally different back in those days, it was a collision of styles. Right now, all the fighters are well-rounded,” he shared. “Back then I was winning my fights with just amateur wrestling. Taking them down, holding them down and a little ground-and-pound.”

For the uninitiated, Alberto looks like another pro-wrestler cashing in on his WWE fame. In reality, the 14-fight veteran has an extensive amateur wrestling background and was on track to compete at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Due to a lack of funding and support, however, Mexico did not send a wrestling team that year.

There were two major factors that put a halt to Alberto’s MMA career: a lingering injury suffered during a fight and a contract offer from the WWE.

“I tore my ligament. That kept me away from training for eight to ten months. That was the time when I was already in conversations with WWE,” he explained. “They presented me the Alberto Del Rio plans, how much money I would get and everything else. That is when I decided to stop doing MMA. They were also giving me the opportunity to come and live in the United States. I talked to my wife at the time and we decided that was the best decision for us.”

The bout with Ortiz is expected to be Alberto’s final fight. As for what’s next, Alberto plans to continue working in both the worlds of MMA and pro wrestling, just like he had between 2001 and 2010.

“Combate Americas is my home,” he asserted. “Helping them find talent, development that talent. Continue to help this company be where it’s supposed to be.”

He also has a Lucha Libre promotion called Nación Lucha Libre that he co-founded with fellow pro wrestling veteran Chavo Guerrero Jr. Alberto also let slip that he has spoken with big-time wrestling promotions state-side.

“I’ve already talked to all the major pro-wrestling organizations here in the United States. I’m focused on this right now and I’ll see where I’ll go in 2020,” he said. When asked whether those promotions were WWE and AEW, Alberto said, “Well those are the big ones.”