CHRIS HOWIE REPORTING …
Certain times in the fight game, whether it be boxing or MMA, the good aspects of what goes on behind the scenes of the sport are over-looked. One such case is Bruce Bellocchi, a San Diego based MMA promoter and former Heavyweight boxer. Bellocchi's WCO Fighting will put on a show on January 12th that not only has some of the biggest names in the MMA world on the card such as Renato “Babalu” Sobral, David “The Crow” Loiseau and former UFC Heavyweight champions Ricco Rogriguez and Mark Kerr, but will also be giving back to the community.
In October of this year wildfires burned through southern California causing over 1500 homes to be destroyed, nine deaths, and many injuries. Bellocchi has decided that a portion of the proceeds from the WCO event will be donated to families of the wildfires who lost their homes. The wildfires hit close to home for Bellocchi and with that he decided it was time to give back. “It's time for MMA to give back to the communities who have given so much support to the sport,” he stated “I just feel like this is a good thing to do.”
Bullochi is no stranger to giving. In 1997 he started a charity called “Hearts Around the World,” that consisted of organizations putting events on to raise money to help the less fortunate. He learned from his boxing days that there were people everywhere to help him out but at that time he felt it was time for him to give back to those who couldn't help themselves. “I've helped myself enough, I felt like I needed to start helping others.”
The card will take place at the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, CA. and will be stacked with fighters that will help start 2008 off with a bang. In the main event of the evening, former UFC Light-Heavyweight contender Renato “Babalu” Sobral will face off against former UFC and PRIDE veteran Vernon “Tiger” White. In a Heavyweight tilt, former UFC Heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez will face former UFC veteran Mike Kyle and another former UFC Champion, Mark Kerr, will square off with kickboxing stand out and former K-1 star Rick Roufus, who will be making his MMA debut.
The WCO will look to make a splash in the MMA world as they put on their biggest card to date and for Bellocchi that is exactly what he wants to do. “This is a great card for the fans of San Diego. We have locals fighters on the card but we also have a lot of guys that have been on the big shows before. We have Kerr, Ricco, Joe Riggs, Loiseau, Drew Fickett, and fighting in another big heavyweight tilt that is sure to have a big finish Wesley “Cabbage” Corieria takes on Jimmy Ambriz,” stated Bellocchi. He continued, “When trying to build a company, the way we are now, you need to build up fighters as well as have recognizable names on your card. Right now we are building but I want to compete with the big guys. I wouldn't have gotten into this just to be a regional promoter. The plan is to compete, as you can see, based on the card we put together. The fans want good fights and we plan to deliver good fights. We also want to make things exciting for local fans as well so what we hope to be able to do is have the WCO's champion from San Diego fighting Strikeforce champions from San Jose. I think that would give fans in California something more to be excited about.”
Like many of the upstart promotions in the MMA world right now, working together to create top-notch cards is something Bellocchi wants to do. “I want to see Fedor [Emelianenko] fight Randy Couture and I can't see why the companies can't work together to make that happen. Putting together the best cards for the fans is what we want to do and companies working together is the best way to do this. The UFC tries to monopolize everything and when they feel threatened by a company they just buy them. If companies worked together we could put the heat on them.”
Feeling honored that Dana White even mentioned his name in a magzine interview recently, in which White referred to Bellocchi as a “wannabe”, Bellocchi offered his response: “Of course I'm a wannabe. Every company strives to do what the UFC has done in the MMA world, and right now I am trying to put together the best possible cards for the masses and in time I hope to compete with the UFC. The last UFC was a weak card and I think the card we've put together is a much better card. Sure, I'm biased because it's my own company, but at the end of the day I'm also a fan and I think we have a soild card.”
Right now the WCO have their heads in the right places and will only try to continue to produce soild cards. After their January 12th show the plan is to do shows every eight to ten weeks. Also planned is for every show to donate a portion of the proceeds towards a local cause. “Next time out we'll have an even bigger card for the fans and if it means going to Florida and helping a community that suffered from a Hurricane, that's what we will be doing.”
Time will only tell how much competing the WCO will be able to do with the power-house UFC but if cards such as the one January 12th continue to take place down the road, the WCO could be around for a long time.
Dubbed: “The Return,” the WCO event will take place January 12th from the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, CA. The event will be broadcast live on the web at RingsideJunkie.com. Tickets for the event can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Stick with www.MMANews.com for updated card information as it comes in.