ARMENIANS MAKE UFC 'FIGHT NIGHT' A COMMUNAL DRAW

Los Angeles Times
April 1 2008
CA

The close-knit community is set to cheer on three of its fighters:
Karo Parisyan, Manny Gamburyan and Roman Mitichyan.

By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 10:39 AM PDT, April
1, 2008

On top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship card that's sold out
for Wednesday night's "Fight Night" event in Broomfield, Colo.,
another capacity crowd is expected when a $20 all-you-can-eat,
all-you-can-drink Armenian party is scheduled at Anush Banquet Hall
in Glendale.

The food and drink are only a bonus.

The main draw is the action that will be shown on a 72-inch television
screen airing the Spike TV broadcast of bouts including three Armenian
fighters from Southern California: Karo Parisyan, his cousin Manny
Gamburyan and longtime friend Roman Mitichyan. The telecast is from
7 to 10 p.m. PDT.

"I know thousands of Armenian guys. We're a very family-oriented,
tight community, and they support me very well," Parisyan said.

The 25-year-old Parisyan (25-4) takes on welterweight Thiago Alves
(18-4). Angling for a welterweight title shot, Parisyan has won three
consecutive fights since suffering a 2006 decision loss to Diego
Sanchez, and his only setback before that was a January 2004 decision
defeat to current interim welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

Northridge's Parisyan said he's disappointed UFC officials have
placed him behind contender Jon Fitch for a welterweight belt,
which will be fought between St-Pierre and Matt Serra on April 19
in Montreal. Parisyan beat Serra by decision in 2005, but Fitch beat
Sanchez last year.

"It's a touchy subject for me and there's times I want to kill someone
over it," Parisyan said of his placement behind Fitch in the title
waiting room. "The first thing I need now is a victory. ... OK, Fitch
is now ranked higher than me. Karo's not done. Karo will be back."

After beating Serra, the fiery Parisyan split from his longtime
trainer Gokor Chivichyan in his former hometown of North Hollywood,
leaving the side of training teammates Gamburyan and Mitichyan.

Chivichyan taught Parisyan judo and grappling, skills that helped
Parisyan navigate a turbulent youth in a tough neighborhood and compete
for the U.S. in the Pan-American Games and in the 2004 Olympic trials.

Parisyan emigrated with his family from Armenia to Hollywood's "Little
Armenia" as a 6-year-old. His interest in fighting and admitted "hot
temper" got him in trouble growing up. Parisyan said he was kicked
out of four high schools, including Hollywood High, John Marshall
High and a home-schooling program.

At age 16, however, he found stunt double work in Hollywood, making
$1,800 a week on shows such as "Tucker."

"Just a couple high falls off trees and some fight scenes, and I was
good to go," Parisyan said. "I had my own trailer, it was cool."

As he's matured into professional fighting, Parisyan said he's no
longer as motivated to "punch somebody's face in," as to reward his
fan base's allegiance.

"If one of us make something of ourselves in the most dominant
sport in the most dominant country in the world, that's big, bro',"
Parisyan said.

Mitichyan, 29, came from Armenia to the U.S. at age 16 in Glendale,
and is still working his way up in the UFC after fighting amateur
underground fights in places like San Pedro. With a 9-1 pro record in
mixed martial arts, he wants to show more against George Sotiropoulous
than he did in a 23-second leg lock submission victory over Dorian
Price in December.

More importantly, he said the "Fight Night" card, which also has
Hollywood's Gamburyan (9-3) fighting Jeff Cox in a lightweight bout,
allows for an appreciation of his and his fellow Armenian fighters'
long road to the American stage.

"I came to this country with nothing, and got a home, a car and a
chance -- with support from our friends and family, and sponsorships
for our fighting," Gamburyan said. "You want to succeed for your
people."