The hispanic culture has long had a history of combat sports, with plenty boxing legends such Caesar Chavez, Roberto Duran, and others having paved the way for the sweet science. In 2017, however, mixed martial arts is center stage and Combate Americas is currently carrying the torch as the home for fighters of Latin American descent.
At Combate 11 from Burbank, CA, the event was conducted with all of the flair of a professional league and featured plenty of the most popular names in the sport. Ironically, the event began with a hiccup as the headlining bout between Kyra Batara and Vanessa Fernandez was scrapped due to “Mogwai” failing to make weight.
That appeared to have no effect on the rest of the card as Albert Tapia and Benji Gomez entertained the crowd with a back-and-forth match that ended with Tapia emerging the victor by split decision in the final fight of the night. But the main event was only the cherry on top of what was a well run night. The promotion has a huge investment in the women’s lighter weight classes, currently the hottest ticket in mixed martial arts. Although the main card lost their promotional star Batara, fans were still entertained by an atomweight bout between Alyssa Garcia and Kaiyana Rain.
On the promotional side, Combate also spares no expense. Before all bouts, the fighters make a walk from an elevated pathway to the cage. That night at the Burbank Convention Center, the small venue served as an intimate setting as fans even toward the back of the arena were able to feel the same energy as those sitting cage side.
The broadcast is also headed by an amazing team. In English, bi-lingual sportscaster Beto Duran served as commentator with UFC bantamweight contender Julianna Pena. The Spanish broadcast is led by Andrea Calle who is joined by a rotating set of broadcasters, including Combate president and wrestling legend Alberto Rodriguez. As part of Azteca, they are not only on the biggest Spanish language network in the USA but in the world. The organization also has the attention of the biggest name in MMA, the UFC. Combate Americas events are streamed live per their UFC Fight Pass streaming service which gives fans an opportunity to watch the event from anywhere.
While the venue was small, it was clear from being in attendance that this was much bigger than just a regional promotion. In between fights, fans were quickly distracted by the high profile names roaming the event such as Josh Barnett, Kelvin Gastelum, and UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt.
Going forward, Combate has already held an event in Mexico City and will have more dates as the calendar years goes forward. But one thing is clear, la jaula (the cage) of Combate Americas has already carved it’s place into the wide world of MMA.