With the proper tools and a little bit of know-how, one could probably extract some serious poetry from Georgi Karakhanyan’s professional MMA debut. The name of the event? “BOOYAA.” Caps not inserted by the author for emphasis.
The ballad's second verse practically writes itself: Karakhanyan’s opponent that evening outweighed him by a good 50 pounds.
“I was training one day, and someone came into the gym and said, ‘Who wants to fight in King of the Cage?’” Karakhanyan recalled. "I said yes. Then, five minutes before the fight, they came in and said, ‘You’re fighting a guy who’s 208.’”
Karakhanyan went out there anyway, and in the second round sank in a guillotine choke. Fight over. BOOYAA.
That was 2006. Seven years, more than 25 contests and 16 finishes later, Karakhanyan owns a reputation as one of the nastiest and most fully fearless featherweights in the game. After an undistinguished run in Bellator, Karakhanyan launched an eight-fight winning streak, including four wins by submission and one by knockout.
That streak earned him a chance to become the first 145-pound champion in the fledgling World Series of Fighting promotion; he’ll face fellow super-prospect Lance Palmer for that distinction Saturday at WSOF 7.
Karakhanyan says his career turned around when he gained patience and lost his spotlight jitters. But that doesn't mean he went all molasses-in-January on people. Only eight of his pro contests have gone the distance; 13 ended in the first round.
“I'm more of a fighter who pushes forward,” Karakhanyan said in an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report. “I want to make it exciting. Flying knee, flying kicks. It’s never going to be boring.”
Despite the striking terminology and an avowed admiration for K-1, the 28-year-old Karakhanyan (22-3-1) is mainly a jiu-jitsu ace, and generally uses his submission game, or the threat of same, to earn a finish.
The roadmap may not be so clear Saturday night. Palmer, a four-time college wrestling All-American who took the fight on short notice after Rick Glenn pulled out for personal reasons, could smother that aggression.
To the surprise of no one, Karakhanyan is undaunted. Palmer has yet to face a threat like him, he reasons. Meanwhile, Karakhanyan has conquered big-league MMA veterans—Waylon Lowe, Din Thomas, Hiroyuki Takaya and Micah Miller—in his last four contests.
So, in Karakhanyan's mind, Palmer really isn't a very big deal. In other words, he's facing down the problem like it’s just another fighter who outweighs him by 50 pounds.
"I know Lance comes from a good wrestling background,” he said in a recent media conference call. “But...I'm looking to go out there and finish. I don't mind getting punched in the face. And I don't mind punching him back.”
The Beaten Path is a series highlighting the top prospects in MMA. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Scott Harris is a writer for Bleacher Report MMA. For more on MMA prospects and the kind of general blithering you just can't get anywhere else on the Internet, follow Scott on Twitter.