BURBANK, Calif. – Fighters have different reasons for being fighters. Some were always the fighting type; others were athletes from other sports who found an exciting new rush by doing MMA.
King of the Cage bantamweight champion Jared Papazian got beaten into the sport… literally.
A few years ago, a 16-year-old Papazian decided to go hang out with his brother by the AMC Theaters in Woodland Hills, Calif. While there, the high school student was approached by approximately 10 older males, some of which looked like adults.
One of the guys that approached Papazian had a face that was strikingly familiar. That face belonged to the older brother of a football teammate he fought a month earlier.
“I always got in fights in high school,” Papazian told MMAWeekly.com. “One-on-one, I was always good.”
The teammate of Papazian’s allegedly went through the Armenian teenager’s locker and was subsequently approached about it. At that point, an intense scuffle began and the result saw Papazian coming out less scathed than his teammate.
Defeated, the teammate then went to his older brother and informed him of the melee.
Surrounded by more than 10 people, Papazian’s twin brother was taken and locked in a store room to prevent him from coming to his sibling’s aid. The fighter currently known as “The Jackhammer” was made to look like a punching bag as he was beaten by the group of 10.
From what he can remember, kicks and punches were thrown from all directions. The assault took place in a public setting and, unfortunately, the spectating crowd didn’t help. In fact, some of them joined in on the assault like it was a free-for-all.
“People from the crowd were helping,” he recalled. “I was fighting for my life.”
When the assaulters fled the scene, Papazian tried to get up, but crumbled to the ground with bruises, a broken nose, and a concussion. After Papazian spent a stint in the hospital, his mother, worried sick, pulled him out of school for the rest of the semester in an effort to protect her son from further harm.
What’s one to do in a situation like this? Well, Papazian looked to mixed martial arts as a way of improving his defense in situations like the one at the AMC Theaters.
“I got jumped… and that kind of led me into MMA,” he said.
Beginning at age 18, Papazian competed professionally in the sport. He had a tough start, going 4-3 in his first seven fights. According to the Southern California native, poor management kept him from realizing his true potential.
This is where Darin Harvey came to the rescue.
Since bringing on Harvey, Papazian’s career has done a 180. He’s gone 10-3 since the management change and better business results have come from it, according to the 23-year-old fighter.
In addition to Harvey, Papazian found Brazilian jiu-jitsu master Alberto Crane to help him with this ground game. With little grappling knowledge, the young Armenian yearned for the tools that would make him a better practitioner of ground fighting.
“He was eager to learn,” Crane told MMAWeekly.com.
The Crane-Papazian partnership began in late 2010 and has translated to gold. Papazian won the King of the Cage title earlier this year and most recently defended it against Marvin Garcia in September.
Like most mixed martial artists, Papazian wants to make it to the big show. The UFC 135-pound division is a place he wants to be and is working hard to make sure he soon sees the bright lights of MMA’s Broadway.
If things work out like his coach predicts, “The Jackhammer” will be pounding pavement on his way to the Octagon.
“It’s just a matter of time,” said Crane of Papazian. “The UFC would be crazy not to have this guy on their show.”