You’ve heard it said a thousand times before – and you’re about to hear it again. A fight’s a fight, a crowd’s a crowd, and once the bell rings, all that matters is the opponent standing across from you. But after practically growing up in the UFC since his debut in the organization in 2003, Karo Parisyan admits that it was more than a little strange standing and fighting without those three letters on the marquee this past July.
“There were a lot of people there and it was a good reaction, people yelling and all the same stuff, but to fight for an organization that was not the UFC, and not as big and professional as the UFC, was really weird,” said Parisyan of his bout against Ben Mortimer for Australia’s Impact FC promotion. “But the bottom line is, when you walk in that cage, a fight’s a fight. Whether you’re in the UFC or in some underground fight, a fight’s a fight – you’re gonna punch, you’re gonna kick, you’re gonna go for takedowns and submissions when the time comes.”
That’s just what Parisyan did in his first non-UFC bout since March of 2003. He punched, he kicked, and at 4:18 of the second round, he submitted Mortimer via rear naked choke.
But what brought him to Brisbane was the real story.
A longtime welterweight contender, Parisyan’s bouts with panic attacks had become front page news in the MMA world, and when he pulled out of his UFC 106 match with Dustin Hazelett the day before weigh-ins in 2009, it was expected that his Octagon career was over. Following the UFC 106 debacle, speculation ran rampant about Parisyan’s future and if he would ever fight again. He knew he would, and in the back of his mind he hoped for another shot in the UFC.
“Some people thought there was a chance I would go back; a lot of people thought there would never be a chance for me to go back, but deep in my heart I knew that eventually I was gonna make it back,” he said. “I had some issues that had to get straightened out, and unfortunately it blew up and everybody heard some crap, but the main thing is that I’m back to my old normal self again, mentally and physically, I’m training and I can’t wait to get back and start mixing it up again.”
That’s now. But before he was welcomed back into the fold for a Saturday bout against Dennis Hallman on the preliminary portion of the UFC 123 card, he had to prove that he had everything under control. Thus the fight against Mortimer, and a career-reviving win. Soon after, he received the call he had been waiting for.
“I’m a religious kid and I believe everything happens for a reason,” he said. “God has a plan for everybody on this planet, and it had to happen. I had to learn the hard way in certain ways and I traveled halfway around the world to prove to my fans and people that thought I wasn’t there yet and still had these problems that I could fight a hometown hero, win, and come back home, and that I could still walk in the cage. And that’s what I did.”
But this is not the same Karo Parisyan that last stepped into the Octagon against Dong Hyun Kim in January of 2009. He’s a little older (28) and a lot wiser, especially when it comes to life in the public eye.
“I’ve always said that if you have some kind of name for yourself, there are always gonna be some people who are gonna judge you, some who will say good stuff, some who say bad stuff, and sometimes I try not to let it bother me, but what can you do?” he said. “It was on the internet, the whole world was hearing rumors, and all you can do it sit back, stay focused, stay calm, and try to concentrate on your long-term goals and what you want to do. I still want to fight and I still have a lot more to prove. I’m still young and it’s not over yet.”
It’s certainly not, and it’s amazing that as long as he’s been around the fight game and as much as he’s accomplished, he still hasn’t reached his 30th birthday yet.
“I’ve been fighting for a long time, close to 14, 15 years,” he chuckles. “I’ve been around a long time so I know the game, I’ve seen the game evolve unbelievably, and thank God I’m still young enough to stay in the game and still fight and still win. I’ve got another five, six years that I can fight, easy.”
The next chapter begins Saturday night against Hallman, and it’s a different world than the one he walked away from a year ago. Once the lone Armenian waving the flag for his country in mixed martial arts, now he’s the pioneer for fighters like Manny Gamburyan, Sako Chivitchian, Sevak Magakian, and Karen Darabedyan. But while he had no problem paving the way before; now, he’s doing this for himself.
“I’ve done my job,” he said. “If I get appreciated, great. If I don’t, I don’t really care. In my heart, I did it for them and I’ve tried to help out my friends as much as I can. But at this time now, I just want to fight. Obviously I’m going for complete domination over Dennis Hallman, and I just want to fight my ass off and do everything I can to show the people that I’m back, I’m still talented, and I can still put on a show. That’s the main part.”
Karo Parisyan - A Welcome Return
"I’m going for complete domination over Dennis Hallman, and I just want to fight my ass off and do everything I can to show the people that I’m back, I’m still talented, and I can still put on a show. That’s the main part.”