Alberto Del Rio is perhaps best known for his stints in the WWE ring, but the former pro wrestler has also had quite a bit of success in the martial arts arena.
Between 2001 and 2010, Del Rio carved out a solid 9-5 record in promotions like PRIDE and DEEP, battling reputable names like Brad Kohler, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and even Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
Though Alberto Del Rio has spent the last decade enjoying his retirement from MMA, he recently announced plans for a comeback. Del Rio will make this comeback under the bright lights of Hispanic MMA powerhouse Combate Americas, where he also serves as a commentator and executive.
Speaking on episode 107 of BJPENN Radio, Alberto Del Rio explained the motivation for this return to the perilous world of MMA.
The former pro wrestler explained that he sees this comeback as a way to give back to Combate Americas — particularly to the organization’s founder and CEO Campbell McLaren — for supporting him through some of the tough times he’s recently endured.
“We have already talked about what Combate Americas is and my relationship, my friendship with my boss and my friend, Campbell McLaren,” Alberto Del Rio explained on the show. “He’s a man who has been [with me] in the good times, bad times, worst times and now again, in the great times. Some people know this, some other people don’t, but I got divorced years ago and the battle for the custody of my children was brutal. It was brutal. Sometimes, it’s like that when you are somebody, when you work hard and you made a living and you have stuff, there is always people finding to take that from you.
“Unfortunately, they were using my kids to do that, to get that from me and that battle, it was brutal. But thank God, that’s in the past. I have my children with me,” he continued. “[I was] not feeling well because my children are everything for me and not having them was killing me and I had my friend, my boss, the entire company behind me, supporting me and every single day, checking on me. Every single day. And when you get a friend like that, when you get a place like that taking care of you, you have a responsibility to pay loyalty with loyalty.”
“Now, after all those days, after that nightmare, I started evaluating, reevaluating my life and I was thinking about the stuff I lost, the friends that stayed, the friends that decided to leave and I said to myself, ‘Okay, how can I give back to all these amazing people that never turned their backs on me?’ And looking at the place where the company is right now, where we can take this company I said to myself, ‘You know what, I’m going to fight, I’m going to fight for this company.'”
Alberto Del Rio believes his comeback will be a massive success for Combate Americas and sees it as the perfect way to repay the organization for having his back through the turmoil of his past.
“We are doing a lot of shows in Mexico, in my country Mexico, and we go and do shows for 3,000-4,000 people,” he said. “I say if I go there and I do a program, a show, I draw 15-18,000 people. Just three months ago, I drew 18,000 people in my hometown San Luis Potosi.”
“So, I said to myself, ‘If I make a comeback and I fight for this company, for Combate Americas, I’m pretty sure we can draw those 18,000 people or even more,'” he added. “We can have a show in arenas in Mexico for 25,000. We can probably make that a pay-per-view and if it’s not pay-per-view, we will have millions and millions watching it, and when you go from having shows for 4,000 people to having a show for 25,000, you know all the brands, all the sponsors are going to be watching. They’re going to want to see why this company is drawing 25,000 people and they will want to invest money. They will want to be part of it. That’s the main reason why I’m doing it.”
Alberto Del Rio has long held the belief that, if he makes a comeback, it has to be for the right reasons. He’s convinced he’s found those reasons. He is doing this for the people that have supported him over the years.
But he’s also doing it to prove something to himself.
“My dad has been my mentor, my friend, my mentor in life, not just in the business,” he said. “But I remember my dad coming to me and saying to me, ‘Hey, why are you doing this? I just want to know if you’re doing this for the right reasons,’ so I said, ‘You know, I’m doing it for the right reasons. I have something to prove, I have something to prove to myself. I want to prove myself I don’t have nothing to prove to anybody else because I have done everything.’
“These days with the internet, with social media, people just want you to give them an explanation to absolutely everything, but I was not going to go out there on social media, on Twitter and tell people, ‘Hey, you know what, I cannot see my children, I cannot even approach my children and it’s going to be like that until God knows when.’ And because I didn’t do it, I didn’t want to do it, people didn’t know what was going on, right? That’s why I told my dad I’m doing it for the right reasons. I have something to prove to myself to prove that I’m completely past those horrible days. That time is in the past and that I’m here ready for bigger and better things. And also, because by doing that, I’m going to be helping this company to get to the place where we want this company to be.”
Having committed to this comeback, Alberto Del Rio is now getting himself back into tip-top shape. And from the sounds of it, he’ll have some top-flight talent behind him as he readies for his return.
“I’m a big fan of the Rocky movies and I remember that scene when Rocky is telling Paulie, ‘Hey, I need to get the beast out of the basement.’ That’s how I feel,” he said. “I feel like I have to get something out of me, get that beast out of the basement. I went back to the gym and I started just kicking ass and working hard everyday and I said to myself, ‘Hey, you know, I think I can do this again.’
“I’m being smart, I retired for pretty much 12-13 years, I retired 12-13 years ago. I don’t want to rush into anything so I’m doing it the right way,” he added. “I started getting my stamina back, my cardio back ,and now, just two weeks ago, we started doing the sparring a little bit.
“I have a lot of friends in the business and I feel blessed because all of them are offering me their help. They want me to do my training camp with them. Good friends like Gilbert Melendez has offered me his help to train me for this. So, I’m doing my stuff in San Antonio right now but next year in January, I want to be here in Cali training, busting my ass. Kicking people’s ass and getting my ass kicked everyday to be ready to this fight.”
How do you think Alberto Del Rio will perform in his anticipated return to competition?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/13/2018.