Cuban-born Jorge de la Noval arrived in the United States 19 years ago at age 14. At that time, UFC was already on its way to taking mixed-martial arts into the mainstream. Today, there are several MMA organizations and de la Noval runs one of them.
CFA (Championship Fighting Alliance) is de la Novals creation. What started as local club shows has grown into nationally televised events, the first being a card Friday, May 24 at BankUnited Center on the University of Miami campus. Mark Cuban-owned AXS TV will televise the event.
This is an amazing chance for us to make a statement and a big splash nationally, de la Noval said. Were definitely not the only company with big shows but we have a lot of top talent that allows us to compete nationally with other organizations.
The card features an intriguing heavyweight rematch between Mike Kyle and Travis Wiuff. It also includes a womens bout between transgender fighter Fallon Fox and Allanna Jones. Even with a competitive field and matchups that will draw national attention, de la Noval is not trying to compete directly with the UFC.
Whoever starts an MMA company thinking of competing with the UFC doesnt know about the business, de la Noval said. The UFC [is] in a different league. Theyve opened doors for us.
De la Noval comes from a fighting background with a black belt in karate. He then joined American Top Team, where he learned the craft of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He noticed there were a lot of young kids coming into the gym with nowhere to fight. Thats when the idea came of providing a platform for them to shine.
The amateur field in mixed-martial arts has grown a lot over the years, so these fighters, young fighters, needed somewhere to go and turn pro, de la Noval said. My idea was to tap into the local market and find some kids that could make it nationally, taking on high-level fighters from around the country.
Weve especially given Hispanic fighters a huge opportunity. We eventually want to promote cards in Latin America.
Aside from the dealings of the business, what drives de la Noval is his passion for MMA.
If I sit down and look at it from a pure numbers standpoint Id be doing something else, he said. For this company to succeed I have to exert that passion I feel for the sport, and for my company. You have to believe that this sport is still on the rise and will eventually be the biggest sport in the world. I firmly believe that, and its what drives me.
Armando Alvarez is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Armandoalvarez23@gmail.com.