combate americas

Quick — who played the first Batman? No it wasn’t George Clooney, Val Kilmer, or even Michael Keaton. Heath Ledger? Uh, wrong character; it was 85-year-old Adam West.

Who? Exactly.

When most people think of the face of the UFC, first thing that comes to mind is usually Dana White or the Fertittas. Ask most fans and they wouldn’t know the man who made it possible was Campbell McLaren.

I guess he’d be the Adam West of the UFC: The first to do it.

He’s the one that came up with the first UFC slogans, “There are no rules,” “Banned in 49 states,” “2 men enter 1 man leaves.” Starting to get the picture?

I met with McLaren at a hotel in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles to talk with him about his latest venture, the MMA reality show Combate Americas. A 30-minute interview turned into a few hours, where I learned not only about his new MMA reality show, but also the beginnings of the UFC and other interesting tidbits about the business which could easily be turned into a book. (I’ll save that for part two next week.)

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But I was there inquiring about his new creation and to find out what exactly it was all about…

Combate Americas is the first Latin MMA reality show, which will air on NBCUniversal’s mun2 starting February 23. The show is 80% in Spanish, and will have Spanish subtitles for the English portions of the show.

McLaren said “Gringo Wednesdays” is when the show will air with English subtitles, with the first episode coming February 26.

The show will feature UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie, Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, and Reggaeton superstar Daddy Yankee.

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“Daddy Yankee use to box when he was younger then got hurt,” Mclaren said. “I asked him to make an appearance on the show, and he said ‘No, I want something more.’ So I made him our Commissioner.”

Not only has McLaren merged MMA with the music world, but reality show gurus Bunim-Murray (The Real World, Road Rules, Best Ink) are also producers on the 10-episode season of the show.

I asked McLaren would the show be a Latin version of The Ultimate Fighter and he said, “No, Combate Americas is story driven. We want you to know the fighters and their stories. They come from different Latin American countries, with some being raised here in the United States.”

The weight classes will feature the featherweight and welterweight divisions — “170 will be my heavyweight,” he said. “Some of the Latin guys are smaller, so that makes sense.”

He said Gracie was a great match and on the show serves as a mentor to all the fighters. “Royce is like Yoda in Star Wars. He’s not on anyone’s side, he’s more of a guide.”

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They brought in Alvarez to bring some inspiration to the guys when they were down. McLaren said Alvarez was great and remembers him telling the fighters, “Dudes you got to keep going! You gotta get up, you gotta keep going!”

The fighters stayed in a house in Miami, and I asked if they had the same rules as TUF (no phone, not able to go out).

“No,” McCalern said. “We didn’t give the guys rules, they were able to do what they wanted. Daddy Yankee even took them out to the club.”

McLaren said the stories were touching and mentioned a fighter of Mexican descent named Oscar from Arkansas who was dropped off at an orphanage as a child, grew up an orphan and calls himself a “Mexican redneck.”

Combate Americas first season will be 10-episodes, with the first live promotion following the series. McLaren said more live events are already set and he is already planning season two of the show.

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I asked McLaren what the UFC’s take was, and he said Dana White thinks it’s going to be a hit and Joe Rogan thought it could become a farm system for the UFC.

I think it will be interesting to watch and see the dynamic McLaren and Bunim-Murray brings, and could lead the Latin American audience to get more into MMA.

As for McLaren and a few “untold stories?” Well, you’ll just have to wait until next week for that.

David Kano is lead writer for MMA Show News and co-host of The Hollywood MMA Show. You can follow him on Twitter @TheDKano.

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