On Saturday, December 7, former WWE champion Alberto “El Patron” Rodriguez will step back into the cage for a winner-take-all fight against former UFC champion Tito Ortiz. The show, airing live on pay-per-view from the Payne Arena at the U.S.-Mexico border in Hidalgo, Texas, is promoted by Combate Americas.
The two will each put their prized possession up for grabs: Alberto is putting up his WWE title while Tito has his UFC title on the line, with the winner taking the loser’s belt, hence the winner-take-all tag.
Rodriguez, who last had a mixed martial arts fight in 2010 losing to Yamamoto Hanshi, has a 9-5 professional MMA record and went on a six-fight winning streak between 2003 and 2010 before eventually losing his last fight via TKO at Cage of Combat 4: Spanish Bombs in Madrid, Spain.
But the former WWE and Impact champion is shaking off his proverbial “ring rust” by going back to basics: spending hours in the gym and train the way he used to train years ago and learning the new styles of fighting.
Alberto credits his boss, Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren, with coming up with the idea of him fighting Ortiz. “That is how we started on this fight. We have an excellent working relationship, and he is also my friend,” Rodriguez told Wrestling-Online.com. “This company has become my family, and my home. It started to grow the way we always wanted to do. This was the moment – to do one last fight.”
Campbell, who is the co-creator of the UFC, recruited Rodriguez to be the President of Combate Americas in 2016 but he has since stepped down from the role and is now part of the Spanish-language Univision broadcast team.
Rodriguez said that like every fighter, it was hard to be on the sidelines talking about the sport while not getting a piece of the action. “You get so close to the fighters, you see how much they want it – it gives you the feeling to be in the fighting game to do it again.” he said.
But this is a one-and-done deal for the 42-year-old who said he has no plans of stepping back inside the cage again. “I have been fighting to continue a legacy – to help the amazing athletes to be part of a pay-per-view card,” Rodriguez said. “Like Rocky…just take the beast out of the basement and to go home and see my children…to go back to San Antonio.”
Rodriguez is a busy man and while training for this fight, he’s also running Nación Lucha Libre with his good friend Chavo Guerrero Jr., a new wrestling promotion based in Mexico. “It started in my homeland,” he explained. “We have fighters and wrestlers from part of the world, but mostly, in Mexico – hopefully we will be as successful as Combate Americas someday.” Their first show aired in July in Mexico City and it was broadcast on the Mexico channel Imagen TV. There hasn’t been a second televised event so far.
Despite his early MMA career, Rodriguez is obviously best known for his time in professional wrestling. As Alberto Del Rio in WWE, he won the WWE title twice, the World Heavyweight title twice, the United States title twice, and won both the Royal Rumble and Money In The Bank in the same year. He also won the GFW Global title and the Unified GFW World title while working for Impact Wrestling.
Alberto confessed that he doesn’t watch any wrestling shows anymore but knows what’s going on. “When I get home, I get home to be a daddy and do to other stuff. But I know who is doing OK and not doing OK,” he said, adding that he still keeps in touch with a few individuals, namely Sin Cara and Drew McIntyre. “This is a difficult business and hard to keep real friends and real people.”
His exit from both WWE and Impact have been well documented, getting in trouble with both promotions during the last few months he was with them. He was released from WWE in 2016 and then had some interesting videos posted about the company while also in a turbulent relationship with former WWE Divas champion Paige.
But despite the very public separation between WWE and Rodriguez, when asked if he would take a WWE call, he answered, “Yes, of course. It’s been awhile since I have spoken to WWE, I know for this or any organization in pro wrestling that my door is always open.”
And his wrestling issues didn’t stop there. Moving to Impact in 2017, he was fired just a year later after he no-showed an Impact vs Lucha Underground live show in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend.
He said he had no regrets on his exit from Impact Wrestling, although admitted that both sides could have done things differently. “But we both spoke at length and buried the hatchet. Recently, I talked with one of the owners and the door is open for me at Impact and also other companies,” Alberto said.
But before entertaining any wrestling offers, Tito Ortiz – the 44-year-old who has a 20-12-1 MMA record – stands in his way and Rodriguez is looking forward to take Tito’s belt away.
“I have my trophy room with my title belts at home in San Antonio. My wrestling…WWE titles. All the blood and sweat your put in that belt and it has so much meaning to me. I know what that UFC title means to Tito.”
If you’re interested in watching Combate Americas, live television programming airs regularly on both broadcast and cable television platforms: Univision and TUDN in Spanish and beginning in December on AXS TV in English.