Mark Pavelich is the CEO of Maximum Fighting Championship, the largest MMA promotion in all of Canada. He works tirelessly to keep what he has built and his candid nature, while considered controversial, more importantly captures the attention of fans.
He recently spoke with The MMA Corner on a variety of subjects, but his favorite topic will always be the MFC. On Friday, Aug. 10, the MFC’s thirty-seventh official event, MFC 34: Total Recall, airs on AXS TV in North America and fans can watch to understand why Pavelich is so invested in the sport.
“It’s easy,” Pavelich quickly answered when asked which fight he is most excited for. “The top four fights on the card, I’m looking forward to. Because it’s not one I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to, of course, the main event—Mukai Maromo and Adam Lynn, the rematch. And I’m looking forward to a five-round fight now. So I’m pretty sure someone will finish the fight, because I don’t think there is any way with the pace they go at, no one could take that kind of abuse for five rounds.”
MFC 34 will see the return of the heavyweight division to the MFC with two of the countries top-ranked heavyweights.
“Of course, the Tim Hague fight,” said Pavelich. “Tim Hague versus Mike Hackert. I mean, the two top heavyweights in Canada fighting each other. It’s pretty exciting. People are pretty jacked about that fight.”
Pavelich wasn’t prepared to include heavyweights into his shows until he knew the talent was ready.
“I’m going to build, probably, one of the better heavyweight divisions in the world,” Pavelich explained. “The process is going to start on Aug. 10 with MFC 34, and I’m looking forward to it. The reason I stopped the heavyweight division because I wanted to get very athletic-looking heavyweights, guys that took the sport extremely serious, and that’s what I’m starting to get now.”
Fans can be assured that heavyweights will now become a fixture of the MFC again, as will a featherweight division that is expected to debut later this year.
The MFC averages four high-profile shows per year, but remains tethered to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The organization has only stepped away from their home base four times in the company’s entire career. Pavelich sheds light on why that is the case, beginning with MMA regulation in Canada.
“I just think it’s a level of inconsistency,” he said. “I’m for regulation, of course. I’m for sanctioning. It’s not the same all the way across, and I think it’s very important that we make it similar all the way across the whole country.”
“Everybody follows the unified rules, but the fees are different and the way things are done is very different. So that’s the number one thing I find very frustrating at times when we move shows from one end of the country to other end of the country. Very different in fees, very different ways in protocols and how things are done.”
One of the differences he finds frustraing is how the province of Ontario requires an MMA fight to take place in a cage, whereas the MFC ring is acceptable in Alberta.
“That’s ridiculous, right?” expressed Pavelich. “That’s a prime example, right? I have the longest running show in Canada, one of the longest in the world, and my apparatus has always been a ring, a five-roped ring to fight in and [Ontario] didn’t allow it, so I actually had to go make a cage, a MFC cage, for one show. It makes no sense, but that’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.”
The company has spent tens of thousands of dollars for a cage that is rarely used. It is something Pavelich doesn’t feel is part of MFC’s brand, and he doesn’t want it to become a fixture for future events.
“MFC’s about fighting in a five-rope, thirty-foot ring,” declared Pavelich. “I mean it always has been. As long as I can help it, I’m always gonna have fights in a ring. I just think viewing for fans is ten times better.”
Pavelich has expressed the desire for the MFC to be a top organization throughout the entire world, but that will mean taking shows outside of Canada. According to Pavelich, plans are already in place for the MFC to have a show inAmerica, but a venue is not certain.
“We’re going to have one in November, it’s just a matter of making the right deal at the right casino,” he explained. “There’s lots of casinos that call us. They want to make deals, but they don’t understand how big the MFC is. We’re live on AXS TV. We’re on TSN in Canada, the largest sport network in Canada, as well. And it’s like, you know, you’re getting that when we come there and you’re also getting basically 13, 14 years experience in the mixed martial art business, so there are a lot of smaller shows up there that are playing these casinos and not making the right deals. A lot of these casinos think there’s not that much difference, but there is a gigantic difference between us and most shows.”
A great place for a Canadian promotion to have their first U.S. show would be in New York, but as we all know, it is one of the few remaining states in the nation to not sanction MMA.
“I’m just confused by that,” Pavelich admits. “Especially a state like New York that’s so progressive in so many other things. I just find it very suspect and very confusing why it still wouldn’t be sanctioned. I think there’s no other way to say it”
“There’s just some political people that are in a position that don’t like it, and that’s all that it will take usually, right? Usually, change comes and that’s the way it was in Ontario, Canada, the right people got behind it, and it got sanctioned and off to the races. The same with New York, sooner or later it’s going to happen, right? I mean it’s an absolute shame it hasn’t happened already.”
The MFC hosts fighters that once fought for the UFC and bring the credibility of their names to the promotion such as Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. The opposite is true of light heavyweight Ryan Jimmo, who went 10-1 and captured gold in the MFC before moving to the largest promotion in the world. Jimmo’s UFC debut was an impressive seven-second knockout of Anthony Perosh. Does Pavelich think Jimmo has what it takes to one day fight the best the UFC has to offer at 205 pounds?
“No,” he said. “He’ll be a mid-level UFC guy. I think the only thing that Jimmo is missing is actual, like, real toughness. I think he’s a great athlete and he’s a great martial artist, but I don’t think he’s that tough. I think when he gets to the higher-level guys like Machida, Bader, of course Jon Jones, a lot of those kind of guys, he’ll struggle.”
Pavelich has given well over a decade to the sport of MMA. He is outspoken, passionate, and only has his sights set on the success of the MFC. Along the way, he has gained experience and wisdom that has kept him successful while so many others have failed.
“I always say I ‘run scared’ and people don’t understand what that means,” said Pavelich. “I ‘run scared’ meaning, like, that’s why I work so much because I’m always scared I’ll lose what I have—the position I’m in in the mixed martial art world—and that’s why I work the way I work.”
Top Photo: Mark Pavelich (Greg Hamilton/Sherdog)