MFC’s Mark Pavelich Sees “Delusion” in MMA, Blasts Bellator’s Bjorn Rebney
By Kelsey Mowatt
Anyone that has followed the career of Maximum Fighting Championship President and Owner Mark Pavelich knows that the long time promoter isn’t one to mince words, while discussing MMA or his organization’s competitors. Pavelich would likely be the first to admit that his candor and boldness has often fostered resentment amongst his detractors; he probably would also admit that he doesn’t really care.
Despite his critics, however, there’s little question that Pavelich’s MFC has grown over the last decade to become one of North America’s most established promotions. Not only has the company’s profile broadened considerably due to the MFC’s broadcasting deal with HDNet, but earlier in the year the Alberta based promotion expanded operations into the Province of Ontario. According to Pavelich, it’s only now that some observers in the MMA world are beginning to acknowledge his company’s success.
“There’s a lot of delusion in our sport; a great deal of delusion,” Pavelich told FCF recently. “A lot of people think that certain organizations are bigger than they are, and one thing people are finally beginning to realize is that the MFC is one of the top three organizations in North America.”
“I just started watching other MMA shows and 90% of the fighters I’ve never even heard of before,” Pavelich added. “I’m thinking to myself, how can these be gigantic organizations when I’ve never heard of any of their fighters and I’ve been in the business longer than anybody.”
For some time, Pavelich insisted that the MFC would head to Ontario once MMA was legalized in the Province, and in April, the company promoted its twenty-ninth event in Windsor. Despite the sport’s infancy in Ontario in terms of sanctioning, it didn’t take long before numerous promotions began conducting operations in the Province, quickly mirroring the busy MMA schedule that exists in Alberta.
“What’s happened is what exactly I said would happen,” said Pavelich while discussing the recent wave of MMA events to be held in Ontario. “A lot of organizations have been one show and they’re gone. You know the expression ‘one and done’? That’s Ontario…In one aspect it’s awesome, and in another it’s horrible, because other people and corporate sponsors look at that and say ‘what’s wrong with this sport?’”
“People coming into this business I think look at me and think ‘if he can do it I can do it,” Pavelich furthered. “They don’t realize this is 11 years of figuring out this business.”
Aside from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which set a North American attendance record with its Toronto event in April, one of the more prominent organizations to set up shop in Ontario recently is Bellator Fighting Championships. When Bellator signed free agent and former MFC welterweight champ Douglas Lima to a contract earlier this year, Pavelich was quick to voice his displeasure about the signing. More recently, however, after reports surfaced that former MFC welterweight contender Ryan Ford has also apparently signed with Bellator, Pavelich took to Twitter and began blasting the promotion’s CEO Bjorn Rebney.
“I don’t know him (Rebney) and I don’t want to know him. I don’t care at all what he does, but if he’s going to sign fighters that are under contract with my organization you’re picking a fight with my family,” said Pavelich, who wouldn’t confirm whether he was talking specifically about Ford. “If you want someone’s contract, buy it; do business properly…I would rather be dead than let people think they can bully me and steal fighters.”
When Ford signed with Aggression MMA earlier in the year, Pavelich and the MFC released a press release claiming that the fighter remained under contract with the promotion. Since then, Ford has gone on to fight for Aggression MMA twice and the Jones Entertainment Group.
Although Pavelich didn’t want to discuss Ford’s situation in particular, the promoter did state that his company will bring legal actions against any competitor who signs a fighter under contract to the MFC. Attempts by FCF to contact Bellator for a comment regarding Ford were not returned.
Up next, the MFC will host its next card, October 7th at the Mayfield Trade Centre in Edmonton, marking a four month break between events for the promotion.
“I wanted to put a show on in September, but where I live there is still an over abundance of small shows and they book all the venues,” said Pavelich, who also informed FCF that the promotion hopes to return to Windsor for a show in November. “It is what it is. So I took the summer off for the first time ever to work on things like my mobile text club, our phone app; all these things that have been driving me nuts.”
According to Pavelich, a bout between lightweight champion Antonio McKee and Bryan Cobb could be moved to the November event and that light-heavyweight champion Ryan Jimmo may take center stage at the October 7th card. One notable name that will no longer be competing for the MFC is the veteran Drew Fickett, who following his first round, TKO loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri at the recent, July 16th DREAM, was cut by the promotion.
“Fans that don’t even watch the MFC that much went on forums and start bashing me because I cut Drew Fickett,” Pavelich said. “Do you think I enjoy cutting someone like Drew Fickett? I don’t. I get no pleasure out of it whatsoever. It kills me…Guess what? It’s the best thing for the MFC and it’s the best thing for the fans. My job is to make room for someone else to come in.”