Ahead of Friday’s MFC 36 event, which takes place at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, the promotion’s CEO Mark Pavelich sat down with FightLine.com to discuss the event as well as what lies ahead for the Canadian organization.
FightLine: MFC 36 takes place this Friday, February 15. The main event will see the promotion crown a new lightweight champion as Mukai Maromo takes on Graham Spencer. Tell us about that fight.
Mark Pavelich: It’s the first time in the history of the Maximum Fighting Championship that we will have a Canadian champion. Maromo is a modern day video game fighter. He has attributes which make him one of the most exciting fighters on the planet. Then you have Graham Spencer and he’s one of the most relentless on the planet. It’s an exciting bout.
FL: Also on the bill is a second title bout that will pit MFC Middleweight Champion Elvis Mutapcic against Sam Alvey. Elvis comes into the fight with a lot of hype behind him, but Sam is notoriously tough. Can you tell us what to expect?
MP: It’s a great style match-up, that’s why I made it. Sam Alvey comes forward all the time and Elvis Mutapcic, who everybody knows by now, has knockout power in both hands. Elvis is a very, very, aggressive guy. He said it best, he doesn’t feel that he’s a true champion until he defends. I really like this fight.
FL: MFC 36 takes place at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. You’ve held quite a few events there. Is it just a preferred locale or do you consider it the promotion’s home base?
MP: When we first started it was, we were at the Shaw a lot. Then we moved around, but now we’re at the Shaw again for 2013. It’s one of the best venues in the world for MMA, so I’m very excited to be returning to it.
FL: What’s fight week like for Mark Pavelich?
MP: It’s just starting out now, for me it’s a little chaotic, but it’s a controlled chaos. We’ve been doing this for 13 years, so I know how to deal with it. Our promotion is very organized. We handle everything we have to do very well, so when I say it’s chaos, I don’t mean it in a bad way.
FL: You’ve said that MFC will crown its inaugural featherweight champion this year. Is there a timeline for that? MFC also just implemented the bantamweight division. Can you talk about the decision to bring that weight class aboard?
MP: Right now, we think that it’s looking like October or sometime in the fall (for the featherweight championship).
The bantamweight division will be kicking off in May, we should have a champion crowned by October or November. There’s such an overabundance of great talent at 135 lb. that we could sign some great fighters and put on exciting fights. That’s the reason we did it. We’ll likely be capping it off at 135 and working on building these two smaller divisions.
FL: There’s a lot that sets MFC apart from other promotions. One of them goes back to old ring vs. cage argument, MFC is one of the few promotions to still utilize a ring, why is it that you prefer that to cage?
MP: I’ve been a ring for 13 years. We do have a cage, but I can’t stand watching MMA in a cage. I’ve always been an advocator of the ring in mixed martial arts and I’ll stay in a ring forever. It’s a fact that people are watching video screens at a live event. It’s ridiculous that we’re the only sport that does that. You go to an NBA game and you look at the court, you look at the video screen for replays, not for the action.
FL: MFC probably listens to their fans over social media more than any the promotion that comes to mind, you continually put on fights that people ask for that feature exciting match-ups. Tell us about your relationship with fans and the impact viewers have on match-making.
MP: We’re the only promotion in the world that does that. There’s no sense of entitlement in the Maximum Fighting Championship.
It’s the style of the fights and match-up of the fights. When we have two great stand-up fighters, people want to see them battle against each other, we don’t just hoard them and put them against jiu jitsu players.
Over time we’ve had a few glitches, but we learned from those mistakes. We’ve got making fights people want to see down to a science now.
FL: What else is on the docket for MFC this year?
MP: MFC will be doing 6-7 shows. I’ve already got four venues scheduled, I just have to book a few more. MFC grows every year, in every aspect. Production improves, fighters improve, everything does. We’re streaming weigh-ins live on Ustream and on our website, MaximumFighting.com.
We’ve been growing for 13 years, we’ll never sit around and say, “We’ve arrived,” there’s always something to improve on.
FL: Can we expect MFC to come stateside this year?
MP: I do want to come to the United States, but it has to be through a casino. I’m not going to come to United States without a casino deal. Once it’s in place, we’ll show them what the next highest brand of MMA looks like.
We’ve had a few great offers, but nothing’s been signed yet. In the last year we’ve had more people in the states approach us than ever. There were two or three deals where I had to sit back and contemplate whether or not to sign, but after doing the math, they still weren’t quite where I wanted to be.
FL: With the death of Strikeforce and Showtime’s apparent interest in staying in the MMA game, there seems to be a slot to fill. We’ve heard of Showtime talking to some promotions, was MFC among them and would you see that as a viable option?
MP: We haven’t contacted Showtime directly, but people have been asking about our interest in it and vice versa. We have a great home with AXS TV right now, we have a wonderful relationship with them, and that’s where we’re at.