by Mick Hammond
With The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 wrapped and in post-production, current UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes awaits his next challenge. With much speculation, the MMA community wonders who will be next for Hughes, well speculation appears to be ending here as according to Karo “The Heat” Parisyan, he is the number one contender and will be facing off against Hughes for the title in the very near future.

When asked by MMA Weekly if the UFC had kept their word to make him the number one contender for the title and when a possible title match would be held, Parisyan said confidently, “Yes, I’m fighting Matt in November.”

With UFC 55 slated for October, a fight between Parisyan and Hughes could either be part of the season finale of TUF 2 or be part of the second Spike TV/UFC live fight night shows, the first of which is August 6th.

Now with a match and month set for the fight, it becomes decision-making time for Karo. With two possible options in front of him, either fighting before then, or waiting to get his shot, Parisyan has made the decision not put his status in jeopardy by taking a fight that would gain him nothing before his match with Hughes.

“I could go and do something, but I don’t want to risk my chance,” said Karo. “I don’t want to go in there and have bad luck and blow a fight to some random nobody, or win against somebody and look bad, making it so they don’t bring me back. I figured I’d just wait until Hughes gets done doing what he’s doing and fight then.”

Parisyan represents something new to Hughes, a challenge from an accomplished Judo specialist. When asked why he has succeeded where so many other Judo based fighters have failed, Parisyan was quick to point out that there is no substitute for experience, technique, and that little something special that can’t be taught in a gym.

Karo told MMA Weekly, “I’ve been fighting in MMA since I was 14, but even at that time I could still throw people. There was always something I felt, I could get close and throw them. These guys like Pawel Nastula and Makoto Takimoto they are Olympic champions, but they’re not fluid. They just want to punch and get in and take them down, they try to muscle their opponents down and wrestle them. You don’t wrestle them, you stick with what you do, Judo, you’ve just got to be fluid. I don’t know how I do it, I have no answer to how I do it, I go in there and I get close I feel their body and go for the throw.”

The desire to keep up with the rest of the ever-evolving world of MMA has also motivated Parisyan to continue to become a more complete fighter and not rely on his base discipline. “Everything gets upgraded every show, fighters know more now. Look at the first UFCs compared to the UFCs of today, now every guy knows how to strike, how to wrestle, and grapple. You always have to keep your game upgraded and at the top. There’s grappling, striking, and takedowns; those are the major categories. You’ve got to keep adding major stuff to those categories so no matter where the fight goes you feel comfortable, up top, side guard, the clinch, everywhere.”

Parisyan continued, “I’ll tell you this; every fight is an extreme. Every fight you learn stuff. I’ve just come to realize that when I fight and I’m calm and cool I can do whatever I want. I can strike with any guy, I guarantee it, I can strike, grapple, clinch, go for throws, experience and staying cool are big factors in the fights. When you’re at your peak and you’ve had a lot of experience at a young age you’re going to be hard to beat. If you’re known as a good fighter you’re going to go out there and explode. In my last fight against Matt Serra I didn’t even train that much. My training was very limited, I didn’t try to lift much weight, I worked just grappling, doing rounds, I wasn’t trying to kill myself or anything. If you delete the first ten seconds of that fight, it was one of my easiest fights ever.”

Conventional wisdom tells people that in order to beat someone like Matt Hughes; a fighter must train harder than they ever have before to have a chance. But according to Parisyan, in the past he’s overworked himself prior to a fight and in his most recent fights, not overdoing it has been more of a help than pushing himself too hard.

“In my first UFC fight against (Dave) Strasser I was overtrained,” admitted Karo. “Against (Georges) St. Pierre, everyone knew what my problems were; I was loosing too much weight and got drained. (Nick) Diaz, I wasn’t overtrained but I was mentally messed up, again personal problems. (Chris) Lytle I was fine, still I was trained but not overtrained. Serra I wasn’t even close to being overtrained. Most of my fights I’ve always been overtrained.”

Karo also understands the importance of keeping mentally healthy is just as important as physical health during a big fight. “I should have beaten Nick in a much easier way. I was telling everybody that I couldn’t believe I had to go to a decision to beat him. I should have beaten him easier. During a fight you can be physically fine but if you’re mentally somewhere else or have a lot of problems going on emotionally, it takes a lot of you. If you can’t focus on the fight because your mind is on something else, you’re hurting; you’re emotionally wounded. With Diaz I was really jacked up with my personal life, I trained for it, but I didn’t win how I think I should have.”

Regardless of how difficult life may be and how it effects his fighting, Parisyan assured MMA Weekly that if everything works out how it should, he’ll be a much larger threat to Hughes than people may think. “I’ve got a lot stuff going on in my life, family, girls, my grandmother is in the hospital, right now I’m beat up mentally. But when the time comes around I’ll train for the fight and if everything goes well I’m telling you, trust me, you’re going to see a Karo Parisyan like you’ve never seen before. If you think I have heart, hopefully, God willing, in that fight you’ll see just who really has heart or not.”

No matter what happens in the fight, Parisyan feels that his patience and hard work have more than earned him his shot, regardless of what some detractors may say. “I want to prove to everybody that I’m that good. Everyone looks at my loss to St. Pierre and my losses to Sean Sherk. I’m not going to make any excuses, but Sean Sherk knows I beat him the first time I fought him, the second time I don’t want to go into it because I was very ill. St. Pierre, what can I say he had a good day and I had a worse day, what can I do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t come back and fight, doesn’t mean I can’t get back on the horse and ride again.”

“After the St. Pierre loss I got back up and went on a four fight winning streak, beating Shonie Carter for the WEC title, Nick Diaz, Lytle, and Matt Serra. These guys aren’t tomato cans or baloney sandwiches, they’re guys that have been around a long time and have kicked butt for a long time. So if I have victories over these guys I think I deserve my title shot, even if I lose I feel I deserve my title shot, I worked my way to it and I deserve it,” concluded Karo.