Canada’s longest standing mixed martial arts promotion, the Maximum Fighting Championship returned Friday for MFC 39: No Remorse and in the process boasted their 15th straight-year in the business. An impressive statistic, when you consider that the MFC is the second-longest running MMA promotion in North America next to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Success like this isn’t built overnight and the first person to tell you that is MFC president and CEO Mark Pavelich.
“My friends know what level of craziness I’m on,” Pavelich told Sportsnet. “I think if you look at [UFC President] Dana White long enough you’ll see an element of craziness involved in him [as well]. Other promoters in the industry, I don’t see them that way because I don’t see them as “longevity” promoters. When you’ve been in the business 14 years it’s a whole different mindset.”
Last year was successful to say the least for the Alberta-based promotion as they launched a unique “Punch The Vote” campaign, which allowed fans to become interactive and select the main event for MFC 38 last October. In addition, the promotion welcomed in a newly formed bantamweight division and an influx of new talent to their roster. But Pavelich believes the emergence of new champions within his organization was the promotion’s biggest success factor.
“I love all of our champions right now: [Sam Alvey] at 185 pounds, [Anthony Hamilton] at 265 pounds, [Anthony Birchak] at 135 pounds. I’m totally ecstatic about all our champions and the level they’re at,” Pavelich said. “That’s my biggest accomplishment in 2013 by miles.”
One of the hot topics in MMA this year is cross-promotion, as rival World Series of Fighting proposed a promotion vs. promotion fight card to Bellator MMA weeks ago. For outspoken Pavelich, this news is nothing new.
"Last year I was talking [about cross-promotion] on AXS TV that I will fight the all-star team for other shows and the MFC champions would destroy them. Now all of a sudden this year you hear [WSOF] coming up with their own ideas like they just thought of this on their own."
While Pavelich is open to the idea, there would have to be incentive for his promotion to materialize such an event. He's adamant that he wouldn't want a promotion like WSOF or Bellator, who've only been in business for a few years, to piggyback off the MFC's success.
"I'd guarantee that the World Series and maybe even Bellator hasn't made one dollar yet in the MMA business. I think that people have injected large sums of money into those companies, which is unfortunate for those [investors]. But the end result is they didn't make any money. Until then, [they] should stand in the corner with a dunce cap on that says: 'You're no longer allowed to speak until you make one dollar in the MMA business.'"
When asked about how his MFC champions would fair against the opposition in these potential fantasy fights, Pavliech didn't back down. "I look at [WSOF] champions and I think we'd win four out of the five fights, I'm realistic. The only people we wouldn't match up well against is the UFC."
But the main focus for the MFC president this year is not his opposition, but rather the growth of his own promotion which always includes the popular topic of expansion. Outside of 2011's MFC 29 event, which took place in Windsor, Ont., all remaining MFC events took place in Alberta. This year, Pavelich has his sights set higher including two of MMA's biggest hotbeds.
"I want to be in a downtown Toronto venue, [not] somewhere in the outskirts like in the ghetto. I want the weigh-ins to be at the Eaton Centre. We're in talks with venues and that's the No. 1 process, getting the right venue in Toronto," Pavelich explained. "I want to walk down Yonge Street and people to know that the Maximum Fighting Championship is here. I don't want to be in a 10,000 seat venue, I want to be in 3,000 to 4,000-seat venue. A real, cool, sexy looking place. I want to hit it out of the park."
Pavelich added: "I also want to be in The Joint in Las Vegas with their new showroom. We're in the process with talks on [securing that venue] as we speak right now."
Should he not achieve these goals in 2014, Pavelich see's this year as a potential end of the road for himself and his family, should he not achieve the level where he wants his promotion to be.
"I've been in this for 14 years now, I'm so sick of it. At the end of the year if something magical doesn't happen with the MFC, I'm going to retire and go into the sunset and never look back again."
One thing is certain, the MFC will continue to showcase this country's top talent and also give fans an alternative brand of MMA that has a respected, long-standing reputation.