I spoke with Alberto El Patron last week, who did color commentary in Spanish for the new MMA series Combate Americas, which launched on NBC Universo last Thursday and will take place every Thursday. The series comes a year after the reality series became the first fight-themed program in history to win a major TV award - "Best Variety or Reality Show" - at the 29th annual Imagen Awards last August. Fighters from the reality series as well as new, up and coming Latino talent and established, free agents will be featured in the live event series.
Below is part one of the interview. Make sure to check back tomorrow where El Patron discussed Triple H eventually taking over from Vince McMahon, the WWE schedule, a second season of Lucha Underground and if he would a part of it, choosing Lucha Underground over TNA and more.
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You have a background in MMA. You got in before the big boom, what drew you to MMA?
"I think it was destiny. As many people know, I trained in classical amateur wrestling, I started when I was 8 years old. I competed in different places all over the world. I represented my country in the Pan-American championships. The promoters knew this, and one of the promoters, the owner of DEEP approached me and offered me some money to fight. It seemed like a good idea, and something I'd enjoy. I did it and did well, and then the rest is history.
"That was before my time with WWE. I was wrestling as Dos Caras Jr, wrestling pretty much in Mexico, but also did some appearances in Japan. That's where they found me and asked me to be a part of MMA."
Earlier in the year, there was a lot of talk about you coming back to MMA. Scott Coker was talking about it. Were you really interested in that or something you were just kind of seeing what was out there?
"I was, I was. At the end of the day, you have to be rewarded. Even though I love pro wrestling and love MMA, I'm here because I have to pay those bills. I'm here to make money, nothing comes free. All of the MMA organizations contacted me to come back and fight. They weren't offering me good money, the money just wasn't there. Fortunately for me, I do so well in pro wrestling that I don't have to go there and fight if they don't pay me what I was asking."
There were also rumors of you and Bill Goldberg fighting. You had said it wasn't really that close to happening, is that something you'd be interested in?
"I don't think so. I respect the guy as a performer. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him, but I won't fight Goldberg. If someone would pay me what I'm asking, I would do it the right way and fight somebody. I would fight a good fighter. When I started in MMA, I was fighting the DEEP champion in Japan. I'm sure they put me in there with him because they thought he was going to beat my ass. They were building him, because he was pretty popular and wanted him to beat a big name from pro wrestling. I ended up kicking his ass in the first round. If I go back to MMA and fight, it will be against a good name. That's no disrespect to Bill Goldberg, I respect him as an athlete and a performer, I do, but I would fight someone with a name in MMA."
CM Punk looks like he'll be making his MMA debut next year. Having done both, what was your reaction to hearing CM Punk had signed with the UFC?
"Punk is a great athlete. He's been training to do this for a while. Even before he left WWE, he was already doing jiu jitsu and Thai boxing. He was just doing it to be in shape, back then he didn't know that he was going to be in the UFC one day. Now he's taking his time and he's getting ready. He's smart. I'm sure the promoters would like to put him in the cage already because they know he's going to sell PPVs. Phil is a really smart person. He's going to be for sure. There are people saying that he's not going to fight, and it was just a promotion to get people to watch UFC, but it's not. He's fighting for sure. I can't tell you the specific date, because I know he's getting ready and he wants to do well. He wants to have a career in MMA."
If the UFC contacted you about a potential fight with CM Punk, is that something you would entertain?
"Yes, of course. I'll do it, but they need to offer the right money. The offers I received from all of the organizations are so ridiculous that I didn't even think about it. It's really good money for the fighters, because I know what fighters do every time they fight, but I do so well in pro wrestling, why would I do something like that if I'm making the same money for pro wrestling appearances?"
MMA has borrowed a lot from pro wrestling. Do you see things from MMA that pro wrestling can borrow?
"I don't think they should take anything from MMA. We can't do weight classes, because it's different. Some people like both, but I don't think we need anything from MMA, it's more them learning from us to make it more fun an enjoyable to watch."
You left the WWE on less than good terms after standing up for yourself. Over a year later, has your relationship with them changed at all? Are you open to a return?
"Oh, we're good. We shook hands, we talked about what happened. They apologized, I apologized. We're good right now. I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing now. The schedule in that company is brutal. I was doing over 250 appearances per year, I was never home. At the moment, I'm working everywhere they want to see me, and I have the opportunity to spend time with my family. I get to enjoy my kids, I'm at home 4-5 days a week, I do 1-2 shows per week. I'm happy, I don't have plans to go back, but like they say, 'never say never.'"
Make sure to check back tomorrow for the second and final part of the interview, where where El Patron discussed Triple H eventually taking over from Vince McMahon, the WWE schedule, a second season of Lucha Underground and if he would a part of it, choosing Lucha Underground over TNA and more.