by Samantha L. Johnson – MMAWeekly.com

After dropping to featherweight and earning two unanimous decisions, Manny Gamburyan (11-4) still went into his fight with former featherweight titleholder Mike Brown a huge underdog. He was taking on the former champ who had dethroned WEC-poster boy Urijah Faber and to the casual MMA fan the Armenian was still relatively unknown. He made his presence known though by knocking out Brown just two minutes into the first round of their April 24 match-up. Already a top contender at 145, that knockout solidified his spot as the number one challenger.  

“I know it made the decision easy for the WEC as far as, ‘Is Manny getting the next title shot,'” said Gamburyan. “I made it easy by knocking out Mike Brown. I knew I’d be fighting Aldo or Faber.” 

Almost mid-way through his training camp for the Sept. 30 bout with Aldo, Gamburyan is still a massive underdog. Aldo is the Brazilian phenomenon that shocked fans by entering the WEC and knocking off every competitor the organization threw his way. He is 7-0 since signing with the WEC in June of 2008. 

“To be honest with you, it’s more fun,” explained Gamburyan. “When you’re the underdog, you don’t have anything to lose. Like right now, I’ve got nothing to lose. He has what I want, he has everything I need, and I’m going to go out there and take it from him.”

With nothing to lose and the world to gain, Gamburyan knows what beating Aldo would mean. Not only would he gain the title, he would be the first Armenian-American to do so. Coming from a Judo background, “The Anvil” is bringing in extra training partners to prepare for Aldo. 

“More Muay Thai guys, more wrestling guys, more jiu-jitsu guys,” said Gamburyan. “I’ve been sparring with Muay Thai guys. They’ve been throwing knees at me and kicks at me, at like 25 miles per hours. I’m bruised every day, I’m cut up every single day, but it is what it is. This is what it’s going to take for the belt. I’m one inch away from my goal so I’m not going to waste my time.” 

Seeing his end goal in sight, Gamburyan is pushing through the pain and weariness to prepare himself for the champion. After knocking out Brown, “The Anvil” watched Aldo dominate Urijah Faber for five straight rounds, all the while breaking down his technique and looking for holes in his game. Since April, Gamburyan has had the opportunity to analyze Aldo and develop his game plan to conquer the Brazilian. 

“He’s definitely beatable,” said Gamburyan. “Like I say, he’s the Brazilian phenom, he’s a great fighter that guy. It’s going to be an honor fighting him. I can’t take anything away from him. He’s got very good stand up, good kicks, knees, punches. But I see some weaknesses that I’m working on right now. Hopefully it’s going to be my night Sept. 30. Some people say shock the world, like I was the underdog against Brown. I don’t know if I shocked the world, but I’m going to do the same thing against Jose Aldo.”


Samantha L. Johnson is a freelance writer originally from Southeast Idaho, currently living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit her website for her ramblings of on living in the MMA Mecca.