Campbell McLaren wasn’t sure what to think about Tucson’s fight-night knowledge or thirst for the sport. He signed up anyway, joining Thom Ortiz’s World Fighting Federation for a card at Casino del Sol’s AVA.
Then Thursday night’s Combate 13 happened … and it was a success, where more than 2,500 fans showed up.
“I thought it was fantastic,” said McLaren, the CEO of Combate Americas. “Some places have a good reputation for being good fight towns. I don’t know if Tucson does … but it should. Tijuana is a great fight town. Las Vegas is, obviously. LA (Los Angeles) is becoming one for MMA.
“But this was one of the better audiences Combate has had.”
He’s so pleased he’ll likely be back in October for another card, one which will likely include Tucson-native Ortiz and his WFF group.
“Seeing it now,” he said in talking about his first time in Tucson, “it is one of the best fight towns I have seen.”
Fan’s knowledge, activity and enthusiasm all played a part in McLaren’s thought to possibly return in the fall.
“(They) respond and it’s a sophisticated response to what’s going on,” he said. “It’s an educated response and enthusiastic response to what’s going on. And there were quite of few of them here. It all adds up.”
Combate Americas was helped by Ortiz’s name and connections. Thursday’s event was his 20th-plus event at AVA and he lends some cache’ to the game.
“What pros,” McLaren said of WFF. “He knows the area and he has a solid, professional organization. We think we are good at what we do and when you team up with somebody that’s good you can get a lot done.”
Ortiz said he “was blessed” to be part of the program given Combate is an up-and-coming fight organization. Ortiz cut his teeth at Casino del Sol, and the only venue in Arizona that holds MMA and boxing events.
“They see the big picture,” Ortiz said. “This (marriage) will give the fighters to see the bigger picture (too). We can make something out of it.”