The former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) champion Alberto Del Rio has been named president of the Hispanic MMA franchise, Combate Americas.
So now, the luchador known as "El Patrón" gets to be an actual boss, “El Presidente,” albeit under his birth name of José Alberto Rodríguez.
The announcement by Combate Americas was made Tuesday in New York as the group promoted its Friday night event in Verona, New York, where its first bantamweight champion will be determined.
Rodríguez is the son of Mexican Lucha Libre legend, Dos Caras Sr., and has competed in 14 professional MMA fights, including a loss to the legendary fighter Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in Japan in 2003.
“I am excited,” he told Fox News Latino on Wednesday. “Combate Americas CEO and founder Campbell McLaren contacted me to work here. I am happy to help the company to grow and help it become one of the best MMA promotions.”
McLaren said he is grateful to have Rodríguez on his staff.
“He does everything,” he said. “He's smart, he knows the fight scene. He is perfect in this role. He is going to help us in finding locations to host events. He is bilingual and famous, and, to come in and give his input to the company, all I can say is that I’ve been lucky.”
McLaren said Rodríguez will help find new talent and assist the fighters to promote themselves. He has worked with Combate Americas before as a commentator, but McLaren said he might want to add another title, if the former wrestling champion is up for it.
“He said he is officially retired," McLaren told FNL about Rodríguez, “but I think he is not going be coming to watch a show without thinking of stepping inside the jaula" – or cage.
Rodríguez, 39, came to a mutual agreement on his release last month with the WWE. The release came a month after he was suspended 30 days for an unspecified talent wellness policy violation. Rodríguez worked with the company from 2010 to 2014 and later returned last October.
But it's clear that some enmity remains.
"This is something I wanted to do ever since I left WWE," he told FNL. "Among a thousand reasons I didn’t want to stay in that company."
The fighte was in the news recently after he reported that he suffered injuries while fighting off an attacker on the street. He posted pictures on his Instagram account. Rodríguez said the fight took place after a person disrespected his girlfriend, the female wrestler Paige. The situation caused him to miss his first post-WWE appearance in Monterrey, Mexico.
Born in San Luis Potosí in Mexico, Rodríguez credits his roots for keeping him strong.
“I come from Mexico where you learn to fight and you learn to always keep your head up,” he told FNL. “I’ve been through a lot of stuff in the past six months, not just the incident a few days ago, but also things with my ex-wife, kids and stuff only I know and only I suffer, but the world is not going to stop because I have personal problems. I have to continue working and providing for my family. All those bad experiences are in the past.”
Rodríguez said that he will keep an eye out for MMA talent, but he is opening the door of opportunity to friends with star power including professional wrestler-turned-MMA fighter, CM Punk, whose given name is Phil Brooks. The former WWE champion made his professional mma debut at last month’s UFC event where he lost in the first round.
“I would love to have him fight for this organization, or any fighter with talent,” he said. “They are welcome to come and fight. They have my number, and I’ll give them a job.”
Meanwhile, the future looks bright for Combate Americas. McLaren said a new television deal is in the offing that will showcase its fights across Latin America.
“Everyone talks about the Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz fight – well all of our fights are like that,” McLaren said. “You can make the case that we are the No. 2 MMA promotion now.”
Combate Americas Nueve will air on UFC Fight Pass and Bein Sports USA. It will be one the first MMA events in New York since the state legalized the sport earlier this year.