Combate Americas CEO, and co-founder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Campbell McLaren is steering his Hispanic-based mixed martial arts promotion into new territory. Today, May 31, will mark both Combate Americas' South American and Peruvian debuts. The Combate Americas: Peru 10-fight card hits Lima's Colisseo Manuel Bonilla and features a Peruvian fighter in every single bout.
The energetic MMA pioneer sat down with Luke Thomas of Sirius XM to speak about his organization's place in the future of the sport, as well as his decision to have Combate Americas enter South America by way of Peru.
McLaren is aware of the current talent disparity between Combate fighters and those of the UFC or Bellator, but he sees the future of the sport on his roster. "The only option I had to find quality athletes was to go younger. And I think what that does, one, it gives me a more aggressive type fighter because they're younger in their career, they're less worried about injuries. They're more able to put themselves out in spectacular fights, but the other things is, as they mature and get experienced, I think I'm looking at the athletes that are gonna dominate the sport in three to five years. You know, so I've invested in the future of MMA, right? My audience is the future of MMA, there's no doubt about that. It's younger, it's growing. I own the audience of the future."
As for his organization's choice to land in Lima for their South American entrance, McLaren cites a multitude of reasons, including the legacy of a "warrior blood mentality" and recent media attention from Peru's primary newspapers. "Last year's Copa Combate, there was this national debate in Peru, on the two big papers … so the two big papers started arguing that Combate had picked the wrong guy to represent Peru in the Copa," revealed Campbell. "We saw that and we went 'Whoa, these folks are fired up.'"
Elaborating further, McLaren confirms that the quality of fighter in Peru also played a role in the decision-making process. "We just saw this great scene, great athletes. Of course, folks [are] smaller than a lot of the UFC fighters, right, I mean, 125, 135, 145, that's really what it is," said McLaren. "You know, I think our 125s are the best in the world, right? And UFC dismantled the [flyweights] essentially, and I think our [bantamweights] are getting there too," he remarked. "So, if you like small, fast, action, Peru is your place."
Combate Americas: Peru streams live in English on DAZN at 10 p.m. ET while the Spanish broadcast airs on Univision at midnight. For those watching on native soil, Movistar Peru will feature the entire fight card live starting at 9 p.m. local time.