Marcelo Rojo has an important fight Saturday night, and if it all goes well, he’ll have two more after that.
The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3 cast member will be competing in Combate Americas’ one-night eight-man bantamweight tournament. The event, titled Copa Combate, will take place in Cancun, Mexico and it will air live at 11:30 p.m. ET on Telemundo and NBCSN.
One-night tournaments were the norm in the early days of MMA back when the UFC was taking off in the ’09s and when Pride FC was in its glory days in the early 2000s. Today, one-night tournaments are a rare sight, as fighters usually compete in single contests.
The 29-year-old Rojo, who was inspired by Pride FC and UFC tournaments to pursue a career in MMA, says it’s a dream come true to be able to test his skills in Copa Combate.
“For me it’s a dream,” Rojo told MMA Fighting. “These type of events don’t happen anymore and I grew up watching Pride FC and the first UFC events, so you know, it’s like reliving that nostalgia that gave me excitement to start this sport, so for me it’s important. But like I said, it’s a goal and now I’m about to achieve it.”
The winner of the Copa Combate will earn $100,000. Although Rojo sees the prize as a substantial amount, Rojo is fighting for something more important than money.
“Of course it can change a life, but I don’t think that’s what’s most important,” Rojo explained. “For the sacrifices that we go through as fighters, $100,000 is nothing. I think we deserve a lot more, especially now that the sport starting to pay well and I’ve been training for many years now, so yeah, the money would be good but it’s not the most important thing. I’m going to visit my family that I miss – I left everything in Argentina and it’s a big sacrifice that I’m making – I’m going to be with my girlfriend, I’m going to be a ble to eat whatever I want, and I’m going to take the glory of having won three fights in one night, that’s more important than winning the money. But obviously the money is going to help.”
Rojo, who trains at Entram gym in Tijuana, Mexico, will be taking on Michael Erosa in the opening round of the tournament, but after that, it’s uncertain who he’ll be facing. “El Pitbull” is not concerned about not knowing his opposition, and feels confident facing anybody in the tournament.
“No, each fight is different and the next fight is always the most important fight,” Rojo said. “I also focus only on my training and not my opponents’. They can do whatever they want to do, I’m doing my own thing. I trust in my training process, the sacrifices I’ve made, and where my trainers have taken me, so I have no problem with any opponent that I’m matched up against.”