Lima brothers with Mark Pavelich
I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the icons of Mixed Martial Arts; and fellow Croatian Mark Pavelich. Mark is the owner and mastermind behind one of the biggest mixed martial arts organizations in the world, the Maximum Fighting Championships. The MFC is the stomping grounds for many up-and-coming MMA fighters and UFC veterans such as Thales Leites, Marcus Davis, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Ryan Jimmo, Antonio Mckee and Dhiego Lima, to name a few.
As a fan of Mixed Martial Arts and the MFC, I recommend checking it out as an alternate to the UFC. MFC events are an exciting brand of MMA and you can always expect a great night of fights from Pavelich. Mark was gracious enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to provide the readers of Croatiansports.com an interview. The Croatian Crippler and Croatiansports.com would like to thank Mark Pavelich for this interview opportunity.
What area in Croatia is your family from? Do you go back often? Can you speak the language?
My family is from Senj, Croatia. I have been back four times, but unfortunately it’s been over 15 years since I last made the journey. Definitely 100% I will be going back within the next 2-3 years. As far as the language goes, I can still understand about 75% of what’s being said, and I can converse at a level around 35-40%. The biggest issue is that I really don’t have too many people around me who speak the language so I’ve sadly lost track of it. I love the language and look forward to being around again in the future.
Do you ever attend any Croatian events in Alberta or North America?
In the past I played Division 1 soccer with Edmonton Croatia. On numerous occasions, I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Croatian Catholic church in the city as well.
Do you have any favorite Croatian singers, athletes or actors?
Luka Sulić of the Two Cellos is truly a favorite of mine. Back in the day, I really enjoyed watching some players; actually I would say I was obsessed with watching Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker. And in my opinion one of the most beautiful women in the world is Nina Morić.
Are you following the Croatian national team in a qualification bid for the European Championships? If so, what do you think of the Turkey playoff match-up?
Like every other Croatian, I’m keeping a close eye on the team. It was very disappointing that they lost to Greece, but I think we’ll bounce back and beat Turkey.
How did you get started in MMA?
I owned an entertainment business and martial arts gym simultaneously and both were very successful. It just became a natural progression that the entertainment and martial arts came together as a show. And certainly the first time I watched Japanese pancrase, I fell in love with the sport.
Where do you see the MFC in 5-10 years?
Without a doubt the #2 show on the planet.
Have you ever thought about holding an event in Croatia?
Having an MFC event in Croatia would be a dream come true. I think there are a lot of shows in that area of the world, but no one is doing a show at the level the MFC is at. And as a very proud Croatian, doing a show in Croatia would be truly special. I’m as Croatian as it gets. I have always taken great pride in my heritage.
How many events are you planning for 2012?
Six to eight shows in 2012 including our first show in the U.S.
How long have you been involved in MMA/MFC?
The MFC is now in its 11th year. It’s amazing to see where we’ve come from as an organization and really great to think about where we’re going. People have no idea how many hours it takes in putting a show together, and they are truly amazed at how we do a show with just a very small handful of key people.
In your opinion where does the MFC place in regards to MMA organizations?
Right now, we are unquestionably the #1 show in Canada, and I would have to say #3 or so in North America. I think if we ever did a show in Croatia, we would be on the path of becoming a major force in Europe very quickly.
Are you looking at expanding the MFC into other countries other than Croatia?
In 2012, we have some big plans for the U.S.A. for sure. It’s been quite interesting too getting offers to do shows in so many places like the Middle East and India. Never say never.
Do you have your eye on any Croatian fighters? Possibly signing them to the MFC?
I really wish Goran Reljić would come to his senses and come to the MFC. He should be fighting at middleweight (185 pounds) and I’ve told him that repeatedly. I believe he would be a star at 185. I would love to have him in the MFC, but not at 205. He could be a serious threat to anyone at 185. It’s ridiculous that he fights at 205. I’m not sure if he’s getting some bad advice or what the story is.
What’s your opinion on Dana White (President of the UFC)?
He’s the godfather of MMA. At the same time I want to be best in the world and Croatians should understand that. We as a people have never bowed down to anyone, and I won’t bow down to anyone. I’ve been in this business a long time and I’ve never side-stepped anyone. It will never happen.
What do you think about the retirement of Mirko Cro Cop?
I hate to say it about a legendary figure, but he should have retired before his last fight. I’ve always been a big fan of his, but why does it always come to that? Why do fighters stick around just for that one extra fight and it’s too late? He should have celebrated his win over Pat Barry and retired on a high. Like so many guys, he hung on for one more and now goes out on a sour note. The reality of it is that he never changed his style, never changed his training regimen and never evolved like the sport has.
What’s your opinion in general of the UFC organization?
I really don’t watch them or follow them that closely. I’m building my own brand, and I’ve kept that mentality. I want people to understand that there’s more than one brand of MMA, and that the UFC is not MMA. I want people to try my brand of MMA, the Maximum Fighting Championship; because I think they’ll like it.
Are you for or against unifying a World MMA Title?
It will never happen in this industry. This time I will say never. I’m not going to say for or against, but it doesn’t matter. Boxing has been around much longer than MMA and it’s never happened. It won’t happen in MMA either.
Do you have a favorite fighter?
Outside of the MFC, I enjoy watching Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. I love the competitors in the Maximum Fighting Championship because I want and bring in guys who want to fight, they want to compete and they want to be exciting – guys like Dhiego Lima, Mukai Maromo and Dwayne Lewis.
What’s your opinion on the future of MMA in Canada?
Canada is a fantastic country for sports. There might not be a better one in the world for the people’s passion for sports. MMA is probably now only behind hockey and soccer in terms of popularity. It will continue to grow and the Maximum Fighting Championship will lead the way.
Do you follow the careers of any Croatian MMA fighters such as Mirko Cro Cop, Stipe Miočić or Igor Pokrajac?
I always watch them, but they shouldn’t be shy to let me know what they are up to as well. I would love to hear from Croatian fighters in Canada, in Europe, in the U.S., anywhere in the world to find out what they’re doing. The door is open for them to come to the MFC.
Schiavello and Mark Pavelich
UFC veteran Goran Reljić recently faced Goran Šćepanović at BFN- Fight Night 6, held in Zagreb, Croatia. The former UFC fighter made quick work of Šćepanović and ended the fight with a TKO due to punches at 1:31 of the first round. This win improves Reljić’s record to 9-3 in his professional fighting career. Will we see Reljić back in the UFC or perhaps the MFC soon?
Goran Reljić vs. Goran Šćepanović
The next MFC event is slated for January 27th, 2012 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. MFC 32 – Bitter Rivals, will showcase a main event fight between Antonio Mckee and Brian Cobb with UFC veteran Wilson Gouveia also on the card.
Interview and Article by
Mike “The Croatian Crippler” Rožić
You can also follow the Croatian Crippler on Twitter @crocrippler