Mark Pavelich, CEO of Maximum Fighting Championship, took some time Sunday to talk with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio about his brand of MMA and what makes MFC the most exciting organization in the world.
Despite being busy finishing the final preparations for this Friday’s event, MFC 37, Pavelich was more than willing to take some time and do what he does best: talk about fighting and promote the Maximum Fighting Championship.
“It’s game week,” said an excited Pavelich, “everybody knows what that means, right? See, around here, we don’t have a show every week, I don’t like that. I like the spread-out-ness of the show because that builds so much more excitement leading up to the show. So for me, it’s so exciting for the fact that we just keep making these statements with our organization over and over again. And people are starting to drink it, they’re starting to drink the Kool-Aid, they’re starting to understand.”
For Pavelich, who has some detractors complain about his vocal promotion of MFC, he insists that his passion is driven by a desire to please his fans. As for those who don’t appreciate his publicity, he is happy knowing that they’ll continue to watch his fights.
“People don’t understand this though. All joking aside, I like seriously care what the fan wants. I know it sounds like a cliché but it’s not, like I really do care. I want people to want to go after the show, ‘Can you believe that?!’ It’s funny because all the haters that are listening tonight, I know you got your ear up against the computer. Listen, all you haters, I’m talking to you right now because you got your ear pressed against the speaker of your computer because you run your mouth about the MFC, you run your mouth about my family, you run your mouth about me, you run your mouth about everything! But the thing you can’t get away from that keeps driving you, because you know on May 10 what’s gonna happen! You know you’re gonna tune in on AXS TV! You know you’re gonna go to ticketmaster.ca to buy tickets! That’s how it is! You don’t have to like me. You don’t have to like anything that we do, but one thing you can’t deny is that we put on one of the most exciting brands of MMA on the planet.”
Earlier on the episode of Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio, Chris Barnett and Anthony Birchak both promoted their upcoming MFC fights with a passion not unlike that of Pavelich.
“See guys, maybe it’s contagious. Maybe that’s what it is after a while. After a while people understand that this is not an act, this is actually how it is. So people start to see that and start to say, ‘Wow, you go there and that’s how he wants you to fight.’ I want you to put your guts out there, that’s what we do for a living. So if that’s what you’re gonna do, then come here and do that. That’s what I expect from everybody on this fight card on May 10. I really do. It sounds so overdone, and I’m going to repeat it 500 times, but that’s what I want. I set it up for everybody. It’s so shiny right now, it looks super sexy, everybody wants to watch this show; but if they don’t deliver, guess what? I look like a liar, that’s what happens.”
For his own part, Pavelich pushes performance rather than victory. A strong example of this mentality is the upcoming fight between Sam Alvey and Jay Silva. Sam Alvey is coming off a loss, but the loss was a grueling 5-round battle with current MFC middleweight champ, Elivc Mutapcic. The loss didn’t earn Alvey a fight with Silva, his tenacity and willingness to exchange did. Pavelich preaches to his fighters to push the action and not to fall back on points-fighting or the “lay-and-pray” technique many UFC fans (and fighters) complain about.
“Come and pull guard,” Pavelich said, “see what happens. That’s what you gotta do here. Come and pull guard in the MFC and see what happens to you. Go ahead. You’ll be unemployed and go back to the jiu jitsu school you came from, because this is MMA right? So when you jump up to someone’s guard- first of all you should get a slap, just an instantaneous slap. The fans should be able to slap you in the face as you’re walking back to the dressing room if you pull guard in MMA. That’s just my personal opinion from someone that’s been in the game as long as I have. But listen, man, it’s a sign of the times. You’re seeing a lot of aggressive lions that want to make a mark in this sport, and that’s what you’re seeing now. You’re seeing a lot of that in my organization. I’m so grateful it’s moving in that direction.”
Pavelich keeps mentality when looking for new talent. He described the organization’s recent contact with bantamweight fighters looking to bolster the roster at 135 pounds.
“It’s funny, we got 50 or so Youtube clips sent to us from fighters in the 135 division, out of the 50 we’re going to sign 6. That’s all that I’ve seen out of the 50. So, that’s a very small percentage in the grand scheme of things. These other guys, yeah you got a great record, but you just don’t have what we’re looking for to make this division something special.”
Overall, Pavelich is trying to grow his organization, but he knows that too much growth only leads to problems. He cites some of the larger organizations as being guilty of this.
“I’m gonna expand it, I just gotta be careful because I don’t want to put guys on the bench. I don’t want to sign 10 guys and, you know, 3 or 4 of them are fighting 3-4 times a year and the other ones are fighting 1-2 times a year. That’s just gonna get me in trouble. I don’t like to do that kind of stuff. But you see other organizations that are supposed to be so-called bigger than us doing that and guys are fighting once or twice a year… Go ask Bellator, same thing right? Got a lot of guys sitting around doing nothing, calling us every day. Every day. Because they’re not fighting.”
For Pavelich, the excitement of his organization’s fights is only a reflection of how MFC operates. His passion excites his fighters, and they in turn put on great fights. He joked that the converse could be said of other organizations.
“You know what you should have [done] though, right? Because I’m going to get everybody amped, and then they’re going to want to go to sleep after, so all you should have [done] is call up Bjorn Rebney, because he definitely would have put everyone to sleep after me. You can just put him- because everyone’s excited now, everybody’s listening at home, they know it’s going to be fun, we’re going to have lots of fun- but put Rebney on after me, it’s like warm milk, brother. Everyone will be sawing logs.”
Right now, Maximum Fighting Championship airs on AXS TV; and from what CEO Mark Pavelich says, it seems that the organization is in no hurry to go beyond that.
“I don’t think Pay-Per-View is the direction for the MFC. I think, like with AXS Telivison, that kind of format is the best route for the Maximum Fighting Championship; but of course pursuing bigger sponsors, more venues. I think it’s imperative too that this might be the first year ever that we take the summer off. We’re 50/50 on it right now, and we’re kind of sitting around the board table because we have never took a summer off. But we’re working on a deal right now for a summer show; but if it doesn’t go through, we’re going to take the summer off for the first time ever in 13 years and do our next show in October. We’re going to push hard to do the show in the summer, but like I said, if the one place we’re signing with doesn’t go we will take the summer off.”
It’s this business model- not trying to become a global company overnight- that has kept MFC in business for over a decade. With a number of large organizations falling by the wayside, such as Strikeforce or EliteXC, Pavelich is proud to still be a growing brand.
“It’s funny because we’re outlasting everybody. And that’s another key component. You see all these shows, out of business, out of business, out of business… then these new ones come up, and everyone jumps on their bandwagon, like they’re going to be something big. Then a year and a half from now, they’ll be gone. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the make-up of this business. A lot of people [have] the ‘go big or go home’ mentality, [but it] does not work in the mixed martial arts business, [but] everybody tries it that way… I have that kind of disdain for other shows, because people in general have shown us no respect in this business; vice versa, that’s why I show them no respect either, I could care less. I hope they all go out of business, that’s how I think… Which one of these shows ever showed me one ounce of respect? Even when I was nice and quiet, no, no one ever showed us respect. So you want me to show you respect and bow down back? Never gonna happen, man. I would rather not be in this business than I have to bow down to anybody in it.”
Pavelich can take credit for the success of Maximum Fighting Championship, as his vocal promotion of the company has kept it relevant helped it grow to become the top Canadian MMA organization today. However, all of the promotion and publicity, he said, didn’t come naturally to the surprisingly quiet-natured Pavelich.
“The funny part was, if I didn’t start to stand up for the Maximum Fighting Championship, who was going to? My wife told me, ‘You better get up on that soapbox and let everybody know, because if you don’t we’re gonna go broke.’ And ever since that day when I started doing it, she was like, ‘Why would you be shy to talk about your product and what you put into this.’ That was my wife’s advice, I’m telling you guys, by nature- if you ever were out with me publically/socially, you’d think there was something wrong with me because I don’t speak very often. If we’re talking about mixed martial arts, no problem; if we’re talking about other things in life, most of the time I don’t make comments about it because I don’t know anything about it.”
Be sure to check out the first half of Mark Pavelich’s interview with Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio where he details Friday’s event, MFC 37. You can watch the event live on AXS TV starting Friday May 10 at 7/10pm PT/ET.
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