Mark Pavelich: Canada's king of MMA

CHRIS DOUCETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:15 PM ET

TORONTO - You’d think the owner of any mixed martial arts organization north of the border would be honoured to be thought of as the Canadian Dana White.

But Mark Pavelich isn’t just any MMA company owner.

The Douce sat down recently with the cocky founder and president of Maximum Fighting Championship, a Canadian-based MMA organization, and he was taken aback by the comparison.

“I’m way better looking than he is,” the MFC boss said with a grin. “He has way more money than I do, but I have way more charisma than he does.”

Not bad for a guy who claims not to be arrogant.

Pavelich may prefer not to be compared to the Ultimate Fighting Championship president, he also wasn’t offended.

“He’s the Godfather of MMA,” Pavelich freely admitted of his UFC counterpart.

But with all the press the UFC has received recently, Pavelich wants to ensure fans know they have another option.

“Yes, he’s got a great product and he’s the superpower of MMA, but there is a different brand of MMA out there and it’s called Maximum Fighting Championship,” he said. “And we’re not just some sort of farm team, we’re the highest level in this country.”

While he spoke respectfully enough of the UFC president, there was also a hint of disdain with each mention of Dana White, who he refers to simply as D.W.

“It’s amazing how the media has embraced his show,” Pavelich said. “I’ve been the biggest and longest running show in this country, but he gets triple the media attention.”

“I’m not complaining about it, but in many other countries that would never happen,” the MFC boss said.

Rather than set his sights too high, Pavelich’s goal is to be No. 2 in the world — for now.

He’s teamed with Canada’s largest entertainment booking agency, S.L. Feldman and Associates, his broadcast partner is billionaire Mark Cuban, which makes MFC the only Canadian MMA show with a live TV deal, on HDNet.

It’s not hard to see why Pavelich is feeling the sky is the limit these days.

He said fighters have been clamouring to join MFC and he has signed 100 so far.

By comparison, UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright tells me his company has 250 to 300 fighters on its roster.

The UFC’s latest coup was convincing the Ontario government to finally lift the ban on MMA.

That also opened the door for Pavelich and his Edmonton-based company. So he has jumped at the opportunity and booked a show in his hometown.

MFC 29: Conquer goes Apr. 8 at Caesars Windsor.

“That’s just a flick,” Pavelich said of holding an event three weeks before UFC 129 in Toronto.

Of course, the MFC show will seat about 5,000, a far cry from the 55,000 who will be at the Rogers Centre. But Pavelich believes 50,000 fans will end up wondering why they spent so much to watch fights on a video screen while everyone at his “intimate” event will want to come back again and again.

You might think the UFC would be upset at being beaten to the punch, especially after the countless hours and money spent getting into the province.

But Wright said their main goal is growing MMA into the biggest sport in the world.

“As they say in dogsledding, the lead dog takes the worst weather,” Wright said.

Wright said his main concern is that all promoters adhere to the regulations set by the athletic commission to ensure the safety of fighters.

Those regulations have forced the MFC to ditch their boxing ring and adopt a cage.

Unlike the octagon, a model the UFC owns, Pavelich said the MFC will use a 30-foot circular design.

The differences between the two products are as vast as the differences between he and Dana, Pavelich.

Aside from their hairstyles, Pavelich said he also encourages his fighters to put on a good show instead of focusing only on winning for fear of losing their job.

“And I don’t like profanity,” said Pavelich, who never cursed once during the hour we spoke, a feat Dana would be hard-pressed to match.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I spent more than a decade of my life soldiering and driving a truck for a living, so I’m quite comfortable punctuating my sentences with the F-bomb.

But I’m also able to turn it off as needed, a skill I also learned in the army.

The repeated warning was: “You don’t want to be home for Christmas dinner, saying to your mom, ‘Please pass the f------g potatoes?’ ”

THIS AND THAT

After winning his fight at UFC on Versus in Kentucky on Thursday night, Igor Pokrajak stood in the centre of the octagon calling out Tito Ortiz. Wow!

Sure that was an impressive kick he delivered to Todd Brown’s head, as was the knee to the face that finished his fellow light heavyweight, but does he really believe he’s ready for the Huntington Beach Bad Boy?

I haven’t decided yet what to make of the upcoming light heavyweight title bout between Mauricio (Shogun) Rua and Jon (Bones) Jones at UFC 128 Mar. 19 in New Jersey.

Both are coming off big wins, but Rua’s knockout of Lyoto Machida was 10 months ago while Jones submitted Ryan Bader just last month.

The extremely athletic Jones, 23, seems convinced he’ll beat Rua, the hardcore striker, and become the youngest UFC champ of all time.

“I feel like this is my time, my moment,” he said recently on ufc.com.

Oh, by the way, Georges St.-Pierre fans may be interested to know GSP is on the cover of Men’s Health magazine this month.


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