Karo “The Heat” Parisyan has delivered half of his wins by submission. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Karo Parisyan was on the fast track to superstardom before injuries, a painkiller addiction and anxiety issues took a serious toll on his career. Bellator MMA has provided him with a platform for resurgence.
Parisyan will carry a two-fight winning streak into his welterweight showcase with Fernando Gonzalez in the Bellator 127 co-main event on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif. The 32-year-old former World Extreme Cagefighting champion has not posted three straight wins since turning the trick in the Ultimate Fighting Championship from Dec. 13, 2006 to Nov. 17, 2007.
A protégé of “Judo” Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan, Parisyan has rattled off four victories in five appearances, three of them first-round finishes. The Armenian judoka last fought at Bellator 122 in July, when he stopped Phil Baroni on first-round punches. Parisyan also holds wins over former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra and onetime Strikeforce welterweight titleholder Nick Diaz.
Gonzalez halted a two-fight losing streak at Bellator 122, where he upset Karl Amoussou by unanimous decision. The 31-year-old journeyman has fought in various promotions, from the WEC and King of the Cage to Gladiator Challenge, Strikeforce and West Coast Fighting Championship. Gonzalez -- who replaced Parisyan’s original opponent, former Dream champion Marius Zaromskis -- has secured 14 of his 21 wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
In addition to the Parisyan-Gonzalez clash, here is what to watch for at Bellator 127:
BOOK OF DANIEL
Forgive Daniel Straus if he still has a sour taste in his mouth.
The American Top Team representative will hit the cage for the first time since he surrendered the Bellator featherweight championship to Pat Curran in a dramatic fifth-round submission at Bellator 112 in March. Straus, 30, had not been finished in almost five years. Despite the setback, he remains in the picture at 145 pounds and could perhaps earn a chance to regain the title -- Patricio Freire now owns the gold -- with a convincing victory over Justin Wilcox.
The 35-year-old Wilcox has compiled a 3-1 record since arriving in Bellator a little more than a year ago, losing only to the aforementioned Freire. “The Silverback” last appeared at Bellator 114 in March, when he took a unanimous decision from Jason Fischer at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah.
ALONG CAME ‘DA SPYDER’
Maybe Kendall Grove has found a place to hang his hat.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner has fought for nine different promotions since parting ways with the UFC in 2011, going 8-4 in 12 bouts. Now 31, Grove will attempt to bounce back from a knockout loss to Brett Cooper at Bellator 114 in March when he collides with former Bellator light heavyweight champion Christian M’Pumbu. The lanky Hawaiian has put his 6-foot-6 frame to good use throughout his career, scoring submission wins against Alan Belcher, Jake Rosholt and Joe Riggs.
Seeking his first victory in more than three years, M’Pumbu has not competed since being knocked senseless by Quinton Jackson at Bellator 110 in February. Always an undersized light heavyweight, he hopes to find a more level playing field in his first appearance at 185 pounds.
SOK IT TO ’EM
It does not appear as though Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou will ever meet the great expectations he created for himself with memorable knockouts against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in Pride Fighting Championships. Still, he remains an intriguing talent in Bellator’s thin light heavyweight division.
Sokoudjou made his organizational debut at Bellator 121 in June, when he dispatched an overmatched Terry Davinney with a first-round rear-naked choke at the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. It was the first submission victory of his 27-fight career and helped steady the Team Quest-trained judoka following back-to-back losses to Evgeny Erokhin and Konstantin Erokhin. Sokoudjou will try to build on the momentum when he locks horns with Malik Merad.
A 6-foot-7 Frenchman, Merad will enter the cage on the strength of six consecutive finishes, four of them via submission.
BUNCH OF TALENT
Shawn Bunch has potential to spare.
The American Kickboxing Academy bantamweight was a two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Edinboro Univeristy in Pennsylvania, where he compiled a 133-24 career record. His 133 wins still rank fifth on the school’s all-time list, five ahead of longtime UFC welterweight contender Josh Koscheck. Bunch experienced his first hiccup in his transition to MMA in October, when he succumbed to third-round punches from Steve Garcia at Bellator 115. Can he right his ship at the expense of David Duran?
Duran has spent his entire four-fight career under the BAMMA USA banner in his native California. He last appeared in March, when a unanimous decision defeat to Benji Gomez brought an end to his modest two-fight winning streak.