I caught up with Karo Parisyan last week shortly after he finished a private lesson, a double cheeseburger, and a coke. He is fresh off a decisive win against Matt Serra and waiting in line for the biggest fight of his life; a chance at the UFC Welter Weight belt and at MMA’s most dominate champion: Matt Hughes.
Brad Doerges: So your next fight is with Matt Hughes?
Karo Parisyan: Uh Yes…
Brad: Is that confirmed?
Karo: No, not yet. Not against Hughes. A 3 fight contract… but not against Hughes. (The next week it was confirmed on another MMA news site.)
Brad: So you have 2 more fights left on that?
Karo: I need more money though… To sign the contract I need more money to fight Hughes. Hughes is a fighter… he is a champion. If I’m gonna fight for the title I need more money.
Brad: I’m with you… How much does he make a fight? 50 to fight 50 to win?
Karo: No naw man… He just signed a contract for 3 fights for 45O thousand
Karo: He made like 60 to fight 60 to win like 3 years ago… Now it’s more. He’s got a reality show now. I told Dana how about you put me and Matt on the reality show to promote the fight like Chuck and Randy.
Brad: That’s a good idea. I thought it was weird that they put coaches from 2 different weight classes.
Karo: They wanted to put me against him (Hughes) in the reality show that’s coming up in August. They wanted to give me a month to train for a title fight. Are you fucking nuts? I need like 2 ½ – 3 months to train… God forbid I lose at least I know that I trained for the fight.
Brad: The first fight I ever saw u fight was against Fernando Vasconcelos. I actually thought that guy was gonna beat you.
Karo: You did? A lot of people thought that.
Brad: Well he was Jiu Jitsu world champion… Mundials winner.
Karo: A lot of people were like Karo he’s bullet proof he’s amazing…
Brad: Hah! He couldn’t even take you down.
Karo: The hardcore guys like my friends.. Chris Brennan… they are calling me telling me “oh Karo you’ll beat him… trust me you’ll beat him… he can’t beat you…” When Terry (Trebilcock) called me he was like he’s just a Jiu Jitsu black belt. Then I find out this guy schools Trigg…. He was killing Shonie… World Champion Jiu Jitsu guy I was like what are you nuts dude? I fought 3 fights. I fought Jason Miller, Antonio McKee, and Fernando Vasconcelos in 3 ½ months. It was ridiculous. I dunno for some reason those were all really tough guys but I never really felt that much pressure on me for those fights. Now with the UFC it’s much harder. I mean my opponents are not that much better but the training and stuff is a lot harder. I don’t like it.
Brad: So you don’t like the pressure?
Karo: Well the pressure is always there. One of the major things I hate is cutting that much weight. I hate cutting to 170.
Brad: What do you weigh right now?
Karo: I’m still going up. I’m about 184. The most I have ever been was before the Serra fight. Two months before the Serra fight I was 194. Never been that big in my life.
Brad: Cheeseburger diet?
Karo: No actually I wasn’t eating that unhealthy. I was eating normal but I wasn’t training as much…
Brad: Did you know that if you beat Fernando you would be going to the UFC?
Karo: Well Gokor has been telling Joe Silva for a while get Karo in there and he was always like “We’ll see”. Honestly I was never like “Oh I wanna go to the UFC”, I’m just a Judo guy and I fight when ever I want. It was just one day I got a call at like 8 in the morning and Gokor is like congratulations you got in the UFC. Then I was like oh shit! I’m in the UFC. I was excited and like 2 months later oh I’m fighting Strasser? I was like I don’t care I’m fighting in the UFC!
Brad: What do you think the key to beating Matt Hughes is?
Karo: Well with Matt Hughes against me I’m pretty sure he is gonna have one game. His game is gonna be a ground and pound. Take me down muscle me and ground and pound me. He’s not gonna have anything like a left hook to right upper cut to a drop fireman’s to an armbar. It’s not gonna happen. God forbid it doesn’t happen. Anything can happen in a fight and Matt Hughes is the champion… he is unbelievable… I’m not underestimating him at all.
Brad: Should be a great fight.
Karo: I just know what he’s gonna try and do. He’s gonna try to out muscle me. If he tries to out grapple me that won’t be that smart for him. He shouldn’t try to grapple a grappler it’s like me trying to box a boxer. He will throw punches and kicks with me for sure but its all going to come down to him muscling me towards the cage and trying to take me down to set up his ground and pound. I’m going to try to circle away and try to take him down myself.
Brad: So do you think you will be able to throw him?
Karo: I have thrown a lot of guys before. I’ve foot swept Randy (Couture) before. I’ve thrown Dan Henderson before. It’s practice but I have fought great wrestlers before. In a fight it’s different because you have punches but when we clinch up… It’s like Judo guys have the footwork Randy and Hughes are more steady. I think Trigg is a better wrestler but Hughes is just stronger and pushes like a truck. If you have seen the first fight between Hughes and Trigg, Trigg was just killing him. Boom boom boom he was all over him because he had so much confidence in himself. If he had fought the same fight that he fought the first time in their last fight he would have beaten Hughes. But once you lose to somebody… they are in your head…
Brad: Hughes has won his last 2 fights by submission, are you afraid of his submission skills?
Karo: No. Big NO. But I mean anything can happen. I’m not underestimating him. He definatetly has the power to submit people… Skill to some point… If he gets somebody’s neck he will submit anybody because of his strength…
Brad: Have you ever trained with him or wrestled with him?
Karo: I never have even talked to him before, then at the last UFC he came into my dressing room before the Serra fight and said “Good luck Buddy”. I was like Hmmm That’s interesting
Brad: What about his stand up?
Karo: Well he’s not Pete Spratt… What I mean is he’s not a kickboxer… He can still hit hard but like I said the only thing I’m gonna look for is… well not saying that I’m not gonna look out for his hands since last time when I fought Serra I almost got paid for it big time. Like I said before my biggest concern is him taking me down.
Brad: Have you been working on your standup for this fight?
Karo: Yeah, I’m starting to work with a professional boxing trainer. I have a seminar then I’m coming back to work with him. He’s supposed to be the hottest trainer right now. Start training some boxing and hit a lot of weights. Maybe train with Randy or something.
Brad: So how many times have you trained with Randy before?
Karo: I trained with him a few times. I called him before the last UFC and I told him Gene and Gokor aren’t gone be there (for the Serra fight) will you corner for me? He said “yeah for sure of course anything at all”. So after I told him any time you are down here call me up and we can train. So I knew he would be down here last Thursday so I called him up and he was like I can’t I’m booked in meetings. So was like fine call me whenever you can. Then he called me back and told me that his meetings were cancelled and that he would meet me at my dojo later.
Brad: So what was it like having Randy in your corner?
Karo: It was good… He was giving good advice like “Posture up.”, “Make your shots count.”, “Keep him there”… Great confidence booster… He’s a great guy… Honestly bro he’s an ace… A class act… I’m telling you that you can’t find too many guys like Randy… If he likes you, you’re set… He had to wear a KTFO hat and a Full Contact shirt so I could get paid because of my contract… He said no problem I’ll do anything to help you out. He’s like the best. In the UFC he’s the best as a fighter as a person as a coach. At the last UFC me and him walked into the training room with like 10 cameras after us Beyond the Glory… They were like “hey Randy can we take some photos?” and he says “Well it’s Karo’s show you’re gonna have to ask him.” I’m like “Uh Yeah! Most definitely.” Insane. I couldn’t even walk outside. People trying to get my autograph on napkins… Crazy.
Be Sure to look for part 2 where Karo talks about his fights with Sean Sherk, training with Vitor Belfort, and his thoughts on a rematch with Georges St Pierre.