“There’s going to be two brands of MMA that succeed in Ontario,” Mark Pavelich, CEO and President of Maximum Fighting Championships said at the MFC 29 press conference. “You can write this down, and in three or four years, when we’re sitting back here again, you’ll say, ‘yeah, he was right’. It will be the MFC and UFC that last in Ontario, the rest will all die. Mark it down, I guarantee you.”
Pavelich has built the MFC up from the ground, and he has good reason to be proud of his organization. Based out of Alberta, Pavelich grew the MFC to be the biggest and most popular mixed martial arts promotion in Canada. Pavelich, along with Scott Zerr and the MFC crew, have built an incredibly successful MMA promotion together.
MFC has managed to jump ahead of the UFC and give fight fans a top level fight card in Ontario first, yet with the stable of fighters that MFC possesses, it should not come as a surprise. Pavelich decided to run the route of Windsor, rather than follow the path of Toronto, and he fully intended for it to be this way.
“We had two or three other cities we were looking at, but nothing solidified or on paper,” Pavelich told MMA DieHards in an interview recently. “It was my goal to be here, I didn’t want to be in Toronto or where ever, I want to be right here.”
Pavelich grew up in the city of Windsor, which borders Detroit, and his loyalty belongs to both cities.
“I’ve got Detroit in my soul,” Pavelich stated. “Even when I grew up (in Windsor), I was always in Detroit, I was fascinated with the city. I still love the Lions, I love the Pistons, I’m not a poser, that’s how I am. I live in Alberta and the Lions are still my team.”
Windsor is the ideal place for MFC to put on their first event in Ontario, but Pavelich is not opposed to entertaining crowds in other parts of the province, and that is something he plans to do with caution.
“There’s places around the Toronto area that we’ll be looking at,” Pavelich said. “I’m being very careful, some people that put on shows are jumping all over the place, and I’ve never been that person.”
Aside from the MFC breaking into Ontario to showcase MMA events, the organization also has been constructing a fine stable of fighters to amuse crowds with. Former UFC middleweight contender Thales Leites, along with Pete Spratt, and Dean Lister are just a few of the fantastic fighters on the MFC roster, and most recently Pavelich had the honor of signing Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis.
“It’s about character dudes,” Pavelich admitted. “(Marcus) could walk anywhere, it doesn’t matter who he is, he’s a character dude, and that’s what I want in my show.”
Signing fighters that give the fans a great show is essential for an MMA promotion, and that is why Pavelich is always thinking about what his next move should be.
“I’m looking at (signing) Paul Kelly from England,” Pavelich informed DieHards. “I love that swagger, bravado, I’m here to fight. That’s the dudes I love. I love Clay Guida, I love Jon Jones, I love those kinds of guys with the swagger and the walk, and they want to throw down. That’s who I want to put in my organization.”
Adding an exciting fighter such as Davis to any card is beneficial. He comes to bang and fans love that in a fighter. Fortunately, so does Pavelich.
“I’m so sick of this hump-guard,” Pavelich said. “I don’t want guys that hump legs, I want guys that fight like Marcus Davis. Marvin Eastman has one fight left on his contract with our company, I’m putting him on this show because I know he’s going to bang. There’s two things that are going to happen in a Marvin Eastman fight: either he’s going to get wacked or the other guy is going to get wacked, but it’s not going to be a decision.”
I do not know a single fight fan that does not appreciate a fighter like Eastman that will give his all, win or lose. Those are the fighters that fight fans want to see, and when the fans talk, Pavelich intelligently listens.
“I listen to the fans,” said Pavelich. “I’m one of the few guys that actually listen to what they want. When fans email me and say, I want to see this fight or that fight, I’m like, man that’s mint. If it’s a great fight, why wouldn’t I want to watch it, and that’s how I put it together.”
Listening to your customer is a key to the formula for any successful business, and while Pavelich admits to following that formula, he is also scouring the fight circuit for exciting fighters, and his keen instinct for playing match-maker is something that cannot be taught.
“People don’t realize that when I signed (Drew Fickett), in 2009 he had a horrible year, but in 2010 he killed it,” Pavelich said. “I knew something changed in his life, so we talked and got it all worked out, and then look what he did to (Matt) Veach at (MFC 28), he made Veach look like he never trained a day in his life.”
“MFC 29: Conquer” is a card that could potentially blow out any other event the promotion has put on. The card consists of Marvin Eastman, Douglas Lima, homegrown talent such as Chucky Mady and Ali Mokdad, as well as an exciting match-up between Marcus Davis and Kajan Johnson. With scrappers like that showcasing their skills, the event is virtually fail-proof.
The chemistry of the MFC brass is parallel to that of any successful company, and Pavelich’s inclination of how to operate a fight promotion is second to none. To make a statement as bold as Pavelich did about the only two MMA companies to survive the Ontario market may sound like tomfoolery to some, but judging by Pavelich’s passion for the sport and his dedication to the fans, it’s only a matter of time before that statement becomes true.