Last year, Rick Hawn returned from injury, moved down a weight class and had an impressive showing in last season’s Bellator lightweight tournament, which makes his 155-pound title fight loss to Michael Chandler this past January even more disappointing.
“It wasn’t my best showing,” said Hawn of his loss to Chandler. “I just got out-worked, out-positioned and I got caught. I made a mistake and that’s what happens.
“The time off (between the tournament and the title fight) didn’t have anything to do with it. I had great preparation for that fight, so it was more me than anything. I made a mistake.”
Hawn will get his first chance at redemption Thursday night in Atlantic City, N.J., in a Bellator 95 feature bout against former UFC welterweight Karo “The Heat” Parisyan.
“I’m fighting another Judo guy, so I can’t really exploit him with my Judo in the clinch as much, but you never know, it depends on which Karo shows up,” said Hawn. “I’m prepared for the best version of Karo there is.
“Whether he’s his old self back in the UFC days or a different person, whatever version of Karo shows up, I’m looking to go out there and dominate him and get a good, convincing win.”
When asked if it intrigues him to match up with a fellow high-level Judoka, Hawn replied, “Not really. I faced him in Judo competition before, so I know what his skill level is.
“We used to compete in the same category, so we matched up a couple of times 10, 12 years ago at the U.S. Opens and I won both those matches. He’s definitely a tough, gritty kind of competitor, and he’s definitely good with Judo, but on paper my skills are different and my credentials are different. That’s part of the reason why he kind of went to MMA, while I continued my Judo career; so who knows what he could have done?”
Hawn told MMAWeekly.com that time has made him a better fighter whereas it has not been as kind to Parisyan.
“10 years ago, I wasn’t half the athlete I am now and I don’t know if I can say the same thing about him,” said Hawn. “Maybe he’s gone in the opposite direction and has gone downhill and some troubles in the last couple years.
“I’m confident in my abilities, whether it’s Judo or MMA. I train with the best team and coaches in the world, so I’m definitely ready to go no matter what.”
Following a disappointing loss to start off the year, Hawn’s goal going forward is simple: put together the best version of himself there can be and go from there.
“I just want to go out there and put everything together that I’ve done in the gym to good use; my grappling, my Judo skills, my striking. Whatever situation that I find myself in, I want to be able to react accordingly and be precise and be ready to go and get the win.”