Karo Parisyan: Time Away from the Sport, Relationship with Bellator, UFC, and More

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Welterweight fighter Karo Parisyan poses for a portrait on September 4, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Karo Parisyan: Time Away from the Sport, Relationship with Bellator, UFC, and More

Former Bellator and UFC star Karo Parisyan is ready to get back in the cage and rejuvenate his career in the sport of mixed martial arts. In an exclusive interview, Parisyan spoke with MMASucka on a number of topics such as his relationship with Bellator, UFC, USADA , his fighting future and his personal battles.

At one time, Karo “The Heat” Parisyan was a must see-can’t miss star. With a true fighter’s attitude and world class judo skills, Parisyan put on many of the UFC’s all-time classic fights. Such memorable fights include bouts against Diego Sanchez, Nick Diaz, and Georges St-Pierre. However, Parisyan’s career, which was once filled with promise, was derailed due to a combination of losses, injuries, and addiction.

Time Away from MMA

Having been dealt a litany of personal struggles, including the recent passing of his father, Karo Parisyan looked to take some time away from the sport. Having last fought in Bellator back on October 3, 2014, Parisyan is looking to get back in the cage and get his fighting career back on track.

“I needed to take some time away from the sport. Not only for me, but for my family. It’s been up and down. My father got sick and diagnosed with cancer. He passed away passed away six months ago, in my arms at my house. It’s been rough but I need to start figuring things out now” explained Parisyan.

Relationship with Bellator

Despite having lost fought for the promotion, Parisyan seemed adamant that his next fight would not be under the Bellator MMA banner. Having fought under both the Bjorn Rebney and Scott Coker regimes, Parisyan goes on to explain why he felt the change in power was not for the better.

“I don’t want to burn bridges with anyone but I still have a few years let, I just turned 34 but in terms of my fighting future it will not be with Bellator. I’m not too happy with them”. Having fought for Bellator under both the Bjorn Rebney banner and under the current President Scott Coker, Parisyan had a surprising take on the two differences in leadership.

“He [Coker] came in and f***ed it all up. Rebney was great, he was doing good, and maybe it was because he took a personal liking to me. When he was president, it was perfect. When Coker and them came in, they f***ed it all up. No disrespect to Ken Shamrock or Royce Gracie — especially Royce Gracie — but I don’t think people care to see two grandpas fighting each other; or a guy named DADA 5000, never fought in MMA in his life, against Kimbo Slice, god rest his soul. How can anyone respect that organization. It’s a business, it’s about making money but who really wants to see these fights?” said Parisyan.

Discussions with Xtreme Fighting Championship

With getting his fight career back on track, Karo Parisyan has been in discussions with other promotions for his return to MMA. One promotion that was mentioned was Xtreme Fighting Championship (XFC). XFC is an international MMA promotion based out of Tampa, Florida.

“They offered me a fight but I haven’t been training. I am looking at November for my first fight coming back” said Parisyan.

In terms of weight class, Parisyan is looking to return to welterweight but the prospect of fighting at lightweight has been intriguing for sometime.

“Right now, I’m walking around 185 – 186 out of shape, but I’m going to going back to 170” said Parisyan. “Everyone for years was telling me ‘Why don’t you go down to lightweight’ and I could make 155lbs, but at this point in my career it’s not something I think I’d want to do”.

“If Dana White were to call me and say ‘hey listen we need you to come in at lightweight’ and the money was right, absolutely but I’m going to come back at welterweight”.

Potential Return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship

For Karo Parisyan, a fighter who made his name in the UFC, returning to the premier organization remains his long-term goal despite his rocky history with the promotion. At UFC 94 on January 31, 2009, Parisyan won a split-decision victory against Dong Hyun Kim. However, Parisyan failed his post-fight drug test and tested positive for banned painkillers.

Parisyan, who was taking pain medication for a hamstring injury at the time, was fined $32,000, had his win overturned and ruled a no-contest, and was sentenced to a nine-month suspension. All of this occurred after the UFC had signed Parisyan to a sizeable new contract. When asked about his goals to return to the promotion Parisyan was optimistic that a deal could be reached once he gets a solid streak of wins going.

“I eventually want to fight for them [UFC] again. Dana told my agent that ‘Let Karo to get a couple wins and we can bring him back. We always loved him, we always cared about him.’ I never had a problem with Dana White or the UFC. I think he took it personally when I got suspended. He had just given me a new $1.3-million contract, a big signing bonus when they didn’t do that with anybody. I hit his heart as a friend and I hit his pocket too.”

USADA and Personal Struggle with Addiction

Karo Parisyan, who has never tested positive for steroids, is not worried about his eventual return to the UFC in this USADA era.

“It’s a very sensitive topic. The sport of MMA has always had the guys who looked like they were on juice. This guys on juice, that guys on juice, and everyone [the fighters] talks. This is going to sound hypocritical but I have never doped in my entire life. My doping was pain medication one time. But for that, that’s a lack of performance – taking that stuff.”

As a hot topic in the sport with many different opinions on the testing itself, Parisyan was vocal in his understanding as to why the UFC finally partnered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

“So many fighters have always blamed each other, accusing each other of steroids and I think the UFC was just tired of it. PRIDE was one of the best shows in the world but 80% of the fighters that came from PRIDE lost in the UFC,” said Parisyan. “I don’t believe it was a coincidence because I believe in God and that everything is meant to happen but all of a sudden these guys show up and they all lose? They were all on juice.”

Parisyan who has spent many years in the sport, understands that many of the people he has competes again were potentially on PEDs and that it is necessary for accountability and the overall safety of the fights.

“The reason the UFC is partnering with USADA is because they want a clean sport but the funny thing is, people use all these things they bought from “vitamin shops” and they claim it didn’t have anything but they know exactly what they are taking.”.I have fought many fighters on juice and I beat all of them. F***king guy from Canada, the Ryan Ford mother*****, you’re going to tell me that guy wasn’t on juice? It terms of USADA testing, I am not worried about them. I have nothing to worry about.”

Parisyan’s struggle with addiction played a huge part in his eventual departure from the organization and overall fall from grace in the sport of MMA. When posed with the question of is he finally clean from his addiction, Parisyan gave a blunt answer.

“I’m very clean. I had a shower this morning,” joked Parisyan. “But seriously, I’m no longer using pain medication. I’m training again, I want to get back in the cage and fight. I used to fight for free because I loved the sport but now it’s about making money and I have to put myself in the best position to do that.”

Return to the Cage

Karo Parisyan is targeting November for a return to the cage and the promotion and opponent is still yet to be determined. As one of the early pioneers of mixed martial arts, it will be interesting to see if Karo Parisyan can return to form and go on a run of success similar to that of Andrei Arlovksi, Robbie Lawler and Fabricio Werdum as former stars who reclaimed their lost stardom. If there is one thing MMA needs more of, it’s exciting fights and spectacular judo throws. Both of which Parisyan is sure to provide.

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