As Combate Americas inches closer to Saturday night’s Copa Combate tournament, which takes place in Cancun, Mexico and airs live on Telemundo and NBCSN, as well as Azteca Siete and ESPN Latin America, all eyes are on tournament favorite John Castaneda, who represent the United States.
That’s just fine with Marcelo Rojo.
“Fighting is not personal for me,” the Argentinian told MMAmania.com. “John has momentum coming into this event and he’s one of my friends. But this is a job and my job is to win, regardless of who’s standing in my way.”
“Pitbull” is widely-considered the tournament’s No. 2 seed as he enters the eight-man quarterfinals, where he’s tasked with turning away Puerto Rico’s Mike Erosa, a former MAXX FC lightweight champion who’s fighting for his battered homeland.
“I respect every fighter in this tournament,” he continued. “These are the top bantamweights in all of Latin America and Mike is no exception. I can’t start thinking about the semifinals until I win my first fight.”
The winner of the Copa Combate tournament will be required to compete three times in one night, with minimal rest between bouts. But that’s no concern to Rojo, who also competed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) combat sports reality show.
“I’ve done kickboxing tournaments so competing multiple times in one night is no problem,” Rojo said. “Of course, MMA is different and there are more variables, but I believe in my training and this was an easy weight cut.”
If Rojo is able to get past Erosa in the tournament quarterfinals, he’ll move on to face the winner of Carlos Rivera vs. Levy Saul Marroquin, while Castaneda will have to dispose of Kevin Moreyra, then eliminate the winner of Alejandro Abohomor vs. Marcos Gomez.
Rojo is counting on it.
“I know the fans want to see me fight John in the tournament final,” he continued. “I don’t want to disrespect my opponent by looking ahead, but I want the toughest challenge in the tournament. I’m a fighter. Becoming the best by beating the best is more important than winning the $100,000 grand prize.”
For much more on the upcoming Copa Combate tournament click here.