by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
At UFC Fight Night this Thursday, Karo Parisyan will be fighting Diego Sanchez in what many consider to be a #1 contenders match-up in the welterweight division. Parisyan was already considered a top contender just months ago before an injury sidelined him prior to his scheduled title shot versus Matt Hughes and since returning has been put on the back burner while Hughes headlined against Royce Gracie and will next face Georges St. Pierre at UFC 63.

After dismantling Nick Thompson in his return bout, Parisyan looks to impress again taking on the undefeated champion of the Ultimate Fighter season 1, Diego Sanchez, and is hopeful that this will be just the win to get him back to title contention. Parisyan recently spoke to MMAWeekly about his upcoming fight, the welterweight title, and a special donation he plans on making after the bout is over.

MMAWeekly: The UFC welterweight division is very packed right now with top fighters. Where would you put yourself among all of those guys?

Karo Parisyan: If I beat Diego I’ll be right back at the top, I’ll have my title shot. I think it’s Matt (Hughes), St. Pierre, and after that its either me or Diego Sanchez. Right now I think I’m in the top 5, but the division is stacked with so many welterweight guys out there.

MMAWeekly: Let’s backtrack just a little bit and talk about the last few months. You had your title shot against Matt Hughes but had to back out due to an injury. Then when you came back healthy, he had his thing with Royce Gracie so you didn’t get the shot then either. When you fought Nick Thompson at UFC 59 you basically walked through him. Was that you kind of taking out your angst on him after being out and showing how impressive you could be?

KP: See in that fight, I showed a little bit more brutality. I showed that I’ll cut you, I’ll break you, I’ll bleed you. I was trying to send a message to Matt and St. Pierre, to let them know that I’m back and I’m always going to be there. That was kind of like a message to all the welterweights and to see that I’m back and I can still fight, I’m back from my injury.

MMAWeekly: Diego Sanchez has been pretty impressive since he left the Ultimate Fighter show and his last fight versus John Alessio was really the first time he didn’t really dominate his opponent since being in the UFC. What is it in his game that you think you can expose and what dangers does he bring as an opponent?

KP: Diego Sanchez is a very tough guy. He believes in himself a lot and he’s one of those guys who has been very spiritual for some time. He’s an aggressive fighter, he has good grappling, he has good wrestling. He doesn’t have that good of hands. As far as his weaknesses, I’m just going to fight my fight. I’m very aggressive and I like to bring the heat on my opponents and I think my aggressiveness, my accuracy, might overwhelm him a little bit. I think I’m more accurate on my throws. I think it’s a little different when someone is shooting for single legs or double legs, than someone throwing you and landing on top of your head. All of that can basically break somebody.

MMAWeekly: You’ve had great success against many of your opponents turning the best part of their game against them. You almost submitted Matt Serra in your fight with him and everyone knows he trains with Renzo Gracie, one of the best submission specialists in the business. When you fought Nick Thompson, who is a pretty solid wrestler, you put him on his back. Is that something you plan for and would you like to put Diego on his back, something that he really hasn’t experienced much of since being in the UFC?

KP: I never want to be on my back. After the St. Pierre fight it kind of opened my eyes because I would go for a submission and then I would keep going, thinking I almost got it and by the 2nd round I was already depleted. I was trying to stay down because I went for too many submissions and I wore myself down, I got tired. After that fight I decided I don’t want to be on my back unless I have a tight submission on the way down. As far as fighting a fighter and beating him at his own game, no I don’t really do that. I’m a pretty good grappler, I’m good at takedowns and I’m pretty good with my hands. I never have a plan going into a fight, wherever the fight goes I’m confident. If its on the feet, I’m confident. If its in the clinch, I’m confident, and that’s my bread and butter. If I’m on the ground…I’ll fight everywhere. Whatever they throw at me, I’ll catch.

MMAWeekly: There are many fighters who bring a lot of different parts of their game into the Octagon. You’ve got some very experienced wrestlers, strikers, but you are one of the only people that has transitioned no-gi Judo into use for mixed martial arts. Do you think that gives you a whole other level to bring into your fights?

KP: I think so. I think Judo is really hard stuff to do without a gi. I don’t know how I do the throws, I just have a feeling and when I feel it I go. Judo is very tricky, it’s a lot of hip work, a lot of foot speed, and after a couple of times throwing a guy, not taking him down but throwing him, which they’re not really used to, it breaks them mentally. When I fought Dave Strasser, he’s a really tough guy, and right after that first throw, he didn’t know where I was coming from and he was lost. That slowed him down and put him in a defensive mode.

MMAWeekly: The popularity of MMA in America just keeps growing and you are now definitely considered a veteran in the UFC. How does it make you feel to get the shot at a main event for this show which will be seen by millions of people on Spike TV?

KP: It’s a very big deal for me, and I’m very honored. I think I deserve it though, I think I’ve proved myself in all the ways that I can to show I should be in a main event. I really want to put it out there that Diego is a tough guy and he’s challenged me a couple of times and he’s wanted this for a long time, and I just said be careful what you wish for because it might just come true. At this point I want to show everybody that I have enough skills to beat anybody at 170. I can do a lot of stuff that people don’t know I can do in a fight. I am honored to fight Diego Sanchez, he’s undefeated but I’ve got one job to do and that’s beat Diego Sanchez and show him that he’s not on my level.

MMAWeekly: Can you give us a prediction and what can fans expect out of this fight?

KP: Expect fireworks. I want to drop bombs, I want to submit, I want to do stuff that make them go ‘Damn!’ I want to give a dominating performance and then I want my title shot afterwards. And I really want to do something for Ryan Bennett and his family so win or lose against Diego Sanchez, I want to donate my gloves from the fight. Anything I can do, Ryan was a great guy.