(images) Andrea Calle visits las Vegas for Combate Americas press conference and World MMA Awards


By ALAN SNEL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The co-founder of Ultimate Fighting Championship has launched a new Hispanic MMA reality TV show on cable network mun2, following the lives of 10 Hispanic mixed martial arts fighters chasing an exclusive contract with the new Combate Americas franchise.

Campbell McLaren, who in 1993 helped launch UFC, now a Las Vegas-based MMA juggernaut worth $2 billion and owned by Zuffa, LLC, will serve as chief executive of Combate Americas.

Mun2 has ordered 10 one-hour episodes of Combate Americas, which starts Feb. 23. Mun2 is the fastest growing Hispanic entertainment cable network, focusing on the 18-34 demographic. Mun2 is part of Telemundo Media, a division of NBCUniversal. BMP Latin, a division of Bunim/Murray Productions, is producing the series.

The 10 professional fighters range in age from 20-year-old Oscar Valdez from Batesville, AR to Rene “Level” Martinez, a 35-year-0ld Miami resident who is a former rehabbed gangbanger who now carries the anti-gang message, McLaren said.

The TV show is stocked with Hispanic personalities and celebrities such as Daddy Yankee, a Puerto Rican reggaeton singer who serves as the show’s ringleader and Piolin, considered the “Spanish Howard Stern” who will serve in a Joe Rogan commentator role. Rogan is an MMA personality and TV commentator on UFC fight show events.

Latin music duo Chino & Nacho and Latin MMA journalist Andrea Calle will serve as show hosts. Making guest appearances will be the first UFC/MMA champion Royce Gracie, Mexican luchador El Blue Demon Jr., Muay Thai kickboxing champ Joseph “Bazooka Joe” Valtellini and tropical Latin music star Elvis Crespo.

Combate Americas will appeal to both hard-core MMA fans and also general fight fans who have heard of MMA events but who have not attended or watched MMA shows, McLaren said.

The theme of the Hispanic MMA TV show might sound similar to that of UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter TV show, which also follows the aspirations of MMA fighters. But McLaren said Combate Americas will be different because it will be infused with Latino celebrities and personalities, who will help the 10 fighters on the show get better known.

“We want to build stars and have them stand next to celebrities. Fame is currency. You can spend fame. That’s why we’re capitalizing on a Daddy Yankee,” McLaren said.

McLaren said it will easily cost more than $1 million to launch the TV show, but network officials declined to comment on the exact investment.

Diana Mogollon, mun2 executive vice president and general manager, said McLaren approached her about the show concept about a year and half ago.

“The minute he approached us we knew yes,” Mogollon said.

McLaren said the first 10 episodes were filmed from October-December 2013 in Miami near South Beach. The show will have English-subtitles for non Spanish-speaking viewers, he said.

Daddy Yankee joined McLaren, Mogollon and others at a show announcement at the Venetian Friday afternoon. McLaren launched the first UFC fight event at McNichols Arena in Denver on Nov. 12, 1993. It was a hit with the Pay Per View audience, and to this day PPV revenue is a major money-maker for UFC.

UFC is also investing in Hispanic viewers by expanding MMA fight shows and TV programming into Mexico and South America.

Contact reporter Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @bicyclemansnel on Twitter.

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