Mark Pavelich talks about MFC 37, interpromotional feuds, and the current state of MMA

Mark Pavelich is the CEO of Canada's leading mixed martial arts organization, the Maximum Fighting Championship. MFC 37 will take place on May 10th…

By: Zane Simon | 10 years ago
Mark Pavelich talks about MFC 37, interpromotional feuds, and the current state of MMA
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Mark Pavelich is the CEO of Canada’s leading mixed martial arts organization, the Maximum Fighting Championship. MFC 37 will take place on May 10th at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. The card will feature bouts between Chris Barnett and Smealinho Rama, Kurt Southern and Mukai Maromo, Ryan Benoit and Anthony Birchak, and Sam Alvey and Jay Silva.

Pavelich sat down with Bloody Elbow to talk about the upcoming card, his personal collection of tombstones, women’s MMA, and his thoughts on the current MMA landscape.

(Interview via MMA Sentinel, transcription by Zane Simon)

We have the very reserved, and never outspoken president of the MFC mark Pavelich.
How are you today. [laughs] What an intro, what an intro. I’m on the floor here laughing.

You probably want to be introduced like that all the time now, right?
Yeah, no [laughs] Yeah! ‘Cuz my whole mindset has just changed 360 degrees now. Now I’m scared to say anything.

Talking about being tame, not being outspoken, all those things. When I hear those words I think Mark Pavelich.
[laughs] I don’t even know what to say man. I’ve never had anybody… In all the years I’ve been in the MMA business, which is longer than everybody, I’ve never been introduced like that. Which is why I’m just in shock right now. But at the same time is, most people know that I’m way worse than usual right now. Because I’m within three weeks of my next show, which puts me on mega tilt. Crazy things go through my brain. And then I see all these new shows that are coming out of the woodwork that, no offense, but you Americans praise to be the next big thing, and I just think it’s so comical. That’s it.

As an American I can say that there is no next big thing.
See, and that’s why I need to play this interview back. Because it needs to be resignated from the mountaintops, for you what you just said. Because there’s so much delusion going on in our sport, especially right now that it needs to be expressed. And it’s better that you say it than I say it, cause people know that you don’t have an alternative motive. I don’t either, but people think I do. So at least that you say it, it just sounds so much better. I’m going to replay that from the mountaintops.

I’m just gonna keep saying things, and you’ll say ‘Yes!’ I guess?
No, no, no. No it’s true. Because I do so many shows leading up to all my shows. And it’s so funny, because people mention certain names of certain shows, and it’s funny because I get radical emails from other promoters talking crap to me on a regular occasion. This is very true, and I never respond anymore. I used to, maybe five six years ago, but now I never respond, I don’t say anything. Because when I add your tombstone to the front yard of my house on Halloween, like I have with the rest of the shows that have gone out of business, you’ll understand that that is my rebuttal to your stupidity. You know, to these other promoters out there.

What promoters have sent you emails? What did they say?
I just don’t want to give them any validity. But what I will do though is, their tombstone which I do every year on my front lawn… I don’t like… I’m not a holiday guy, but I have a tradition where I put all the tombstones of all the shows that have gone out of business and all the ones that have mouthed off to me over the years. And I just think it’s so comical because the shows are smaller, right. So I just have a hard time… but they send me emails, like radical emails, telling me how people are going to put me out of business. And I think it’s funny because I’ve been receiving those emails for 14 years. And people should know by now, if I want to go out of business it’s because I choose to go out of business. Nobody’s ever going to put the MFC out of business. If the MFC goes out of business it’s because we decide to go ‘hey, we’re going into another direction, and something else in life.’ And people really need to understand that.

For a long time people have been saying that ‘Strikeforce was B-league.’ Because Dana said ‘Strikeforce sucks, these guys suck,’ and people took it as gospel.
I can tell you what gospel is. I’ve been on shows with certain people from that organization [the UFC], like in Canada, and I can play you video where they ask us a question one time about Kimbo Slice. And I thought, ‘well Kimbo Slice would be awesome to be in anybody’s organization. Because if you’ve ever talked to him before you realize is, he’s very well spoken, he is a really charismatic guy, and he also brings a demographic that really wasn’t in the sport at the time around.’ And I have video tape of this. And the first thing, DW [Dana White] is on the other line saying ‘no we would never put that clown in our organization.’ And I’m standing in the video going ‘no, you should put him in your show he’d be fantastic.’ And people are saying to me ‘Pavelich doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ And then a year later Kimbo Slice is in his show.

And then I can remember, same person when they’re talking about Brock Lesnar, and I’m like ‘I think Brock Lesnar would be a phenomenal MMA fighter, just the aura of him and everything.’ And then the person’s telling me ‘no, that guy is a clown. No one would watch him. Your really think we’re running a circus show.’ And a year later he’s in that organization right. So, it’s funny.

And don’t forget too, I’ve always said ‘I’m never going to put female MMA in my organization.’ And that person said that too, as well. Now he has that. Which, congratulations, but I personally will never have it. And it’s no disrespect to female MMA fighters, because I do have an overabundance of respect for them. At the same time is, it’s my only personal issue that I just don’t like to see females hitting each other. I really don’t, it’s maybe something weird in my brain, but I just don’t like the visual of that happening. Now, is Ronda Rousey a phenomenal fighter? Is all these other girls… yes, they are, they’re phenomenal athletes and I respect them and I want them to continue on in their direction, but not in the Maximum Fighting Championship. Ever.

Why is that, because the women always come to fight and steal the show every time?
I agree with you, but at the same time is… like I said, it’s nothing to do with them. They’re great athletes, I can’t… Sarah Kaufman, I know her very well. I know the struggle she went to, to get to where she’s at. You know, Ronda Rousey, phenomenal athletes right? I mean I bow down to them, that’s how good they are. Their technique is phenomenal, but at the same time it’s me, okay. I just visually, there’s something visually where I don’t like to see women hitting each other, I don’t. And it has nothing to do with them, it has everything to do with me, so it’s my deficiency, it’s not theirs. But that’s why I’ve always said I don’t want to put females in the Maximum fighting Championship. And people are like crucifying me, and I’m like ‘no, you don’t understand, I have all the respect in the world for these girls. Oh my god, I think what they’re doing is phenomenal. It’s just I personally don’t like to watch it.’

So, Fallon Fox?
I’m gonna stay away from that with a fifteen foot pole. And let me tell you this, I don’t ever want to see… that’s another thing, I’m a big… like I’m a, my kids were raised that way, my son was raised that way, my father was that way. We were always… our father would take a round out of us, but I never once see him raise a hand to my mother. And so on and so on, through our family history. I despise men that do that with women. So the same thing is women on women, I just don’t like it. It’s a moral issue with myself, but once again I want to commend the athletes. They’re just so impressive to watch, from what I hear.

Let me switch gears then and ask you about the guys coming up on your next card on May 10th. On the website you only have three fights listed right now.
I have 11 fights, I have 11 fights on the show. And it’s funny because, people say that ‘you only have three fights listed on the website.’ Because it’s slow time people are starting to pay attention to that. That’s just a subliminal thing that I do. But we have the heavyweight championship in our organization, which… the gentleman of Mister Rama, Smealihno Rama, who is now 6 and 0. He’s cleaned everybody’s clock in the first round. I’m bringing back a person called Chris Barnett, who most people know as ‘The Beast Boy.’ He’s the only guy at 265 that can do back tucks into the splits. He has a great promise about himself. He’s 7 and 1, most people know that he’s ranked top 50 in the world. He had a high-anus… is that the right word, high-anus, hiatus… hiatus. I’m semi-illiterate right. At least I’m honest about it.

You know what the beauty is, 95% of my organization is more educated than me, the people in it. It’s no secret, I barely… I can write you the sob story, but you’ve heard them all before so I wont even start. But Chris was in another organization, he was signed with some other show before. They kinda like were not sure how to deal with him, because he’s a very hard guy to match up. I signed him with my organization; I love the way he fights. He’s extremely violent. And Mr. Rama and him are gonna be something to be entertaining people to tune in to AXS television on May 10th.

Like I said, it’s almost like a precursor to what I always say, I keep bringing shows that are more exciting than the next, every time. Because I finally figured out after 14 years… we were never good matchmakers. And now in the last 3 to 4 years we’ve become very good. That’s something that we’ve been honing on and it’s showing in our product.

I’m sorry I’m crying over here over high-anus.
Yeah, high-anus. And you know what’s funny, someone will start hashtagging that, put that out there and we’ll use it for the rest of our life. Half the words I say people say ‘Oh, Mark that’s…’ My media guy goes crazy, he’s like ‘Oh Mark, you can’t say that.’ I go, ‘I just did. What am I gonna start pretending, after 14 years man, that I’m some English major. God, like c’mon man.’

A lot of people talk about this guy Anthony Birchak here.
They should, they should talk about him. Hey, heaven forbid, heaven forbid we got anybody in the mixed martial art business that knows how to pick a fight. I like Chael too, you know Chael, and I like him right, but nobody believes for one second he’s going to beat John Jones, right. Even the trash talk that he’s doing right now is brutal, it’s not even believable, do you understand, it’s not even remotely believable. He’s trying to sell a fight that he talked himself into, and it’s like, it’s so disgusting, because he doesn’t deserve it. He’s not even selling it properly, even the crap that he’s coming out of his mouth, is not even entertaining. And he’s usually entertaining if he’s talking about anything. And now you watch it and it’s like really, no it’s not.

Birchak, he’s different, he means it. It’s a kid that’s exciting at 135. When we said we’re going to start the 135 division, we went through it with a fine tooth comb. Because the problem is, you watch 135 division it looks like a point Tae Kwon Do, Karate tournament. Nobody’s hurting each other. It’s just like a lot of shadow boxing, a lot of bobbing and weaving, and all the rest of the stuff. And when we signed Ryan Benoit and Anthony Birchak we made sure that these two kids are going to do what we want them to do, and that’s just bring brutal violence on May 10th.

It’s true, everyone is saying Birchak is the next big thing, but I don’t know anything about Ryan Benoit, what’s his deal?
You know what’s funny? All he needed was someone like Birchak to just egg him a little bit. And this kid, we’ve got some highlight reels on him that you need to watch. You can honestly see that this kid is like altogether… he wants to beat people up. He doesn’t want to sing Kumbaya with anybody. He doesn’t want to sit and play a tambourine on the side of the road, like the rest of most of mixed martial arts wants to do; like ‘he’s good,’ the ‘I’m good. We like each other. Let’s fight.’ That doesn’t work man. These two legitimately do not like each other and it hasn’t stopped. And people are calling, saying ‘Mark, what’s wrong with these two guys?’ I’m like, ‘they don’t like each other. Thank God! You got two guys who want to beat the hell out of each other. Amen!”

God forbid two guys go in there and actually mean what they say.
Correct, correct. It’s something that I long for, and it happened. When I signed Birchak he was so excited and he said to me ‘Mark, I’m so excited, and I just want to beat up everybody.’ And I’m like ‘yeah, keep talking kid, let me hear yah.’ He just wants to win and beat people up winning. What’s wrong with that? That’s the business we’re in. If a guy that’s in the NFL says to you ‘yeah I want to hit hard and I want to score touchdowns,’ that’s what you want to hear out of his mouth, right? See in mixed martial arts it’s like everyone’s got immune to saying anything like that. Are you kidding? Your opponent wants to beat the hell out of you in front of all his friends and family and on live television, and you can like him?

When people say ‘I don’t want to hurt my opponent,’ I don’t understand where that comes from.
It’s because we came up with the martial arts spirit, and people don’t want to talk like that. Listen to me, I want to destroy my competitor, do you understand? My competitors, whoever they are, I want to destroy them. I want to run them over with a bus, and then when I run them over I want to back up the bus and run them over again. That’s what I think about when I’m working everyday. There’s nothing wrong with that mentality. You think people that are sitting around right now at huge companies in the world… maybe they don’t talk like this out loud, but I’ve been in their boardrooms with them, at very large companies, and they talk the exact same way.

It’s the same thing with the fight game. If you’re in this business… maybe they’re in their gym talking like this, but when they get out in public they don’t talk this way. You know why boxing still does? Because you can’t… Most of the kids from the hood, they can’t help themselves. They can’t help themselves that when someone says something to them they’re gonna retaliate. That’s just the way it is. They don’t care if they’re in a press conference, they don’t care if they’re in a church, that’s how these guys talk. And in martial arts it’s very different.

You’ve said before that you don’t care about guys with the best pedigree, you want guys that will beat the crap out of each other.
Correct, but isn’t that what we all want to watch though? It kills me when I hear… I get so much crap from the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world. Because I still tell anybody, ‘if you pull guard in the maximum fighting championship I will rip your contract up immediately. If you jump up and pull guard on a guy in a fight I seriously… I’m gonna take your contract and rip it up.’ Oh my god the BJJ world went crazy. ‘This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ I said to them, I said ‘You know what, I’m the only one that knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this.’ Because I actually seriously listen to fans tell me this kind of stuff all the time.

Because I don’t care if you’re in Chicago, New York, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Montreal, Toronto; when you ask the majority of fans what they want to see, the… they love ground game, but they want to see active ground. They don’t mind wrestling when a guy suplexes a guy over to the side and lands him on his head. They love to see people getting knocked out, right? So since I’ve been in this business for 14 years, I can’t even tell you how many emails I’ve received. Thousands over the years, of people telling me what they want to see. So, who am I? I’m a civil servant, man. I get out there and do what they want. I’m the president, I’m an elected official. I sit and give them what they want. I don’t give them what I want, I give them what they want.

You know it’s MFC time, because Pavelich is full of piss and vinegar.
People say piss and vinegar… you know what’s funny? I got better standup than half the MMA fighters in the world and I’m 45 years old with a bad back. You know what dude, it’s time that people start investing into their standup game in the mixed martial arts world. I just thought I would announce that to everybody, because it’s pathetic. You watch mixed martial arts fighters, the majority of them they don’t have the total… people go ‘oh this guy has got the total package.’ I’m like ‘are you serious man.’ I watched someone the other day, did you see Matt Brown, how good he looked last week? Did you see that fight?

I just don’t know how he hits people with that style.
But you know what the difference is? Jordan Mein is a phenomenal fighter. The kid he fought, I know him very well. That kids got mega game. And What you noticed was, you got to finish guys at that level when you got them in trouble. You have to finish them when you have the chance to finish them. When you don’t they turn it back around and finish you. Now I’m not saying he’s the best striker in the world, but that style of fighting, like a Jordan Mein, a Matt Brown, that’s what people really want to watch. I’m sorry man, but that’s what they want to see. They want to see the scramble, the fight. Whichever way it turns out it turns out, but that’s what they want to see.

I was just personally hoping that Jordan would win.
Me too. I like the kid, I know his family very well. I mean his father has fought for me a few times. The bottom line is the kid realizes now though, there is a different page in the sport. He’ll figure it out because he’s still very young and he’s got a mega amount of talent. What I’m trying to say is, that the style of the fight is the sign of the times, that people want to continually watch.

In my organization whether Mukai Maromo wins or loses, people want to watch him fight, because they know that it’s going to be a fight. He brings it, he’s going to fight. The Rama kid, the heavyweight same thing, just wants to fight. Birchak, Benoit, fighters. They want to fight; go forward. Jay Silva returning against Sam Alvey, please everybody watch that fight. And when you’re watching on AXS TV on May 10th, just email me and say thank you, okay. That’s all you have to do, just email me and say thank you. ‘Cuz that’s a fight. Forget mixed martial arts, Jay Silva, Sam Alvey, fight. That’s what it’s going to be; street fight… it’s going to be a straight out fight with technique.

Any last things you want to say about the card?
Listen everybody, tune in. MFC 37: True Grit. The number one mixed martial arts organization in Canada, and one of the top organizations in the world. I repeat, in the world. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid everyone, believe what’s in front of you.

You can follow Mark Pavelich on Twitter: @MarkPavelich

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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