Alberto “El Patron” Rodriguez is no newcomer to mixed martial arts. The former multi-time World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion was a veteran of Pride Fighting Championships and Deep long before he was a household name in professional wrestling. On Dec. 7, inside the Payne Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, the man once known as “Alberto Del Rio” makes his return to the cage after over nine years away. He will do so looking to take Combate Americas to new heights in its first foray into pay-per-view and clap back at the naysayers who doubt the legitimacy of his pugilistic abilities.
Rodriguez’s return to MMA has been a journey 14 months in the making. After the Combate Americas color commentator and executive announced his comeback in October of 2018, observers wondered how serious he was, and who he might face. At Combate Americas: Tito vs. Alberto, the world will get an answer.
“My one condition; the only condition, was to have a good opponent,” Rodriguez told Sherdog about his return bout. “So, we were going through the names, and suddenly we found out Tito Ortiz was not under contract to any organization. That’s when I said I want Tito. Because that’s the perfect fight for me. Mexican-American [versus] Mexican-American. In the moment I decided to fight Tito, I did it knowing I could win this fight. Of course, in order to do that you have to go to the right places. That’s why I went to Arizona and trained so hard. This is MMA, and anything can happen. I’ve been hearing the same things since my first fight in Japan many years back. They all said you’re not going to make it; you’re going to lose this fight. I ended up winning, and it was the same for the second, the third one, the fourth one and my last. I’m not planning on going to Hidalgo, Texas, to lose.”
In this conversation with Sherdog, Rodriguez went in depth on his training camp in Arizona and why it was the toughest endeavor of his athletic life. He also shares almost having to cancel the fight because of a serious shoulder injury.