HIDALGO — There’s no love lost between Tito Ortiz and Alberto “El Patrón” Rodriguez.

When the UFC Hall of Famer and former WWE and PRIDE star step inside La Jaula on Dec. 7 at Payne Arena in Hidalgo, any respect the two have for each other will be left on the outside.

“We’re not friends, but I know what it takes to get to the place to get where Tito is. He knows what it takes to the place where I am in my career, and that’s the part that we respect,” Rodriguez said. “But on Dec. 7th, I’m not going to be respecting him and he’s not going to be respecting me. We’re going to go toe-to-toe and may the best man win.”

Ortiz and “El Patrón” are set to headline the first ever pay-per-view event “Tito vs. Alberto: What Side Are You On?” held by Combate Amercias, dubbed “the world’s premier Hispanic Mixed Martial Arts sports and media franchise.” Not only will they be fighting for pride, they’ll be battling for each other’s gold in a winner-take-all title belt challenge.

Ortiz, a former UFC champion, has a storied MMA career with more than 30 fights to his name. He’s won his last two fights by way of submission and knockout, and Ortiz is ready to put his skills on display against Rodriguez, an opponent he feels isn’t ready for what’s coming his way Dec. 7.

“I think he bit off a little more than he can chew. I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch, but I know I’m ready to fight. I know I’m going to be ready to put on a great show,” Ortiz said. “I know I’m going to be faster, stronger, more technical. He’s never fought anybody like me. He’s being a sacrificed lamb to the lions, and this lion hasn’t eaten and I’m going to roar on December 7 in La Jaula.”

But Rodriguez is no slouch when it comes to the fight. Formerly known as “Dos Caras Jr.,” Rodriguez holds a 9-5 MMA record with six submission wins and three knockout/technical knockout victories. “El Patrón” has been putting in work training with top talent like Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader and C.B. Dolloway.

“People think I was just doing WWE, then from one day to the other I decided to jump into the cage. They don’t even know that I fought in Japan for the best organization at the time, PRIDE. When UFC wasn’t what it is today, PRIDE was No. 1 and I was fighting for them, for South America, Mexico,” Rodriguez said. “Yes, I’m well-known for my days in WWE. Yes, Tito is well known for his days in the UFC, but that doesn’t mean that I’m crazy because I’m taking this fight. I didn’t wake up one morning and say to myself, ‘oh, I think I’m going to try the MMA business.’ No, I’ve been doing this for a while, I know what I’m doing and I’ve been training with some of the best fighters on the planet.”

Payne Arena Marketing Consultant Aleck Rios said when Combate Americas returns to the Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 7, it will be a day to remember.

“It’s history, not only for the Rio Grande Valley, it’s history for Hidalgo, the Payne Arena, and history for Combate Americas as it’s the first ever pay-per-view event they’re producing and the first South Texas has ever hosted,” Rios said.

The fight card will include 10-plus fights featuring local talent from the RGV and Combate Americas’ first ever Women’s World Title fight between Desiree “Dirty Dez” Yanez and Melissa “Super Melly” Martinez.

Tickets can be purchased at PayneArena.com or by visiting the Payne Arena box office. The fight can also be purchased through pay-per-view for $39.99.

bramos@themonitor.com