Coming off a disappointing 2011 where he went 1-2, lightweight veteran John “Guns” Gunderson was more than happy to start off this year with a win over fellow former UFC fighter Justin Buchholz for the Superior Cage Combat 155-pound belt in February.
“It felt good to get that victory over a pretty tough opponent, win another belt and start the year off with a bang,” said Gunderson. “Justin is an extremely tough fighter with a lot of talent and there were a couple spots where he had me in trouble here and there, and I just kept fighting and dug deep.
“There’s been other times in other fights where I tried to dig deep and fight through it and my mind said yes, but my body said no. I was able to get through it (this time).”
Gunderson looks to repeat his success against a name opponent when he steps up to welterweight to take on Karo “The Heat” Parisyan at ShoFIGHT 20 this Saturday night in Springfield, Mo.
“In my opinion, Karo’s done more than most fighters will ever be able to accomplish or ever do,” Gunderson told MMAWeekly.com. “I have nothing but respect for the guy and what he’s done in the sport from when he was young until now.
“At this point and time in my career I want to fight those guys; the guys with names. I want tough fights. I want fights that mean something to me and later on look at myself in the mirror and be proud of.”
While Gunderson respects Parisyan, he feels that in nearly every aspect of MMA, he outshines his larger opponent.
“Karo’s obviously got world class judo, so there’s no way to prepare for someone’s judo like that, but I’m strong (in areas) too and I’m not green anywhere,” said Gunderson. “That’s something he’s going to have to deal with: my wrestling ability, my striking ability, my grappling ability, and my mental toughness.”
Speaking of mental toughness, Gunderson has heard speak of Parisyan’s erratic mental game in the past, but he’s not buying into it.
“He has broken in the past, but sitting there live when he fought Dong Hyung Kim – who had trained with us at Team Tompkins – he put Karo in all sorts of bad positions, but Karo showcased some real heart in that fight,” said Gunderson. “Whether or not it got overturned, Karo won that fight, and to go out there and beat a guy with Kim’s skills, I was impressed.
“I think he’s serious about this. He’s maybe only got one shot left, he needs to do it now, but unfortunately he’s got to go through me.”
While Gunderson feels his opponent may be up against it this weekend, he also acknowledges the twilight of his career may not be far off.
“I want to get a couple more fights in the UFC and finish my career there,” he said. “I’ve been fighting for so long – I’ve had fifty-some fights – I deserve that.
“I don’t feel I performed to my potential there, so if I had another chance there, I’d make the most of it. If it doesn’t happen, then it wasn’t meant to be; but if I can make it happen, that’d be awesome.”