Georgi Karakhanyan is one of those fighters who does most everything well within the throes of combat.
He’s beaten 24 of the 30 men he’s faced as a professional, and he’s one of the best fighters in one of the world’s most powerful MMA promotions. He’s also been on the cusp of fighting for a world title for about two years but he hasn’t yet been able to breach the summit of that proverbial mountain.
On Friday night at Bellator 155 in Boise, Idaho, he hopes to have his hand raised over one of the toughest opponents he’ll have ever faced in Pat Curran. A former two-time Bellator featherweight champ, “Paddy Mike” also fought for the promotion’s 155-pound title. However, Curran has lost three of his last five and can ill-afford a loss at this point in his career.
But like most elite-level fighters, Karakhanyan embraces the challenge and expects to be fighting the best possible version of Curran, a man with steely resolve who has never been knocked out before in the pro ranks.
“He’s a tough veteran and he comes from a good camp,” said Karakhanyan, who referenced Curran’s move to the Blackzilians. “He’s never been finished, either, which is something I look at and I think we match up really good. When I’m done fighting and I look back on all the opponents I’ve fought, I’ll look at this one as one of the best guys that I have fought. He’s a great opponent for me.”
Karakanyan is not fixated on becoming the first man to knock out Curran. A victory by any means is the main priority.
“That would be great but I’m not out to look for it, so no,” he said. “If it comes, it comes. I’m the type of fighter who sees an opening and then takes advantage of it. Sure, I’d like to be the first guy to finish him but just getting the victory is the No. 1 thing to me.”
Karakhanyan is not one to admit that he’s a desperate fighter at this stage in his life, but he is coming off a clear-cut loss to Daniel Weichel on Dec. 4. The loss was his second in three fights, a far cry from the version of “Insane” that had won nine straight and captured both the Tachi Palace Fights and World Series of Fighting featherweight titles during that stretch. But his two recent losses were the result of injuries and in the case of the Weichel fight, Karakhanyan says he really didn’t have a choice but to accept the fight, even with a bum knee going in.
“I think the biggest thing that happened in that fight was that I came back too early from my knee injury,” he said. “I had been off for six months and was coming off of surgery and I needed the money. I was making a lot more in that fight than when I would have if I was in the UFC so I had to take it. It was getting close to Christmas time and with having two young kids, I wanted them to have a good Christmas. Mentally, I was ready to go but I could tell right when that fight started that my knee wasn’t 100 percent.
“I can’t take anything away from Weichel,” he added. “He did what he had to. He stuck to his gameplan and frustrated me and beat me fair. He couldn’t finish me with one leg, though, so that was good for me. Hopefully he winds up getting a title shot out of the win. I don’t have any regrets for taking the fight, though, because I like taking chances and my kids had a good Christmas. It was more important for them to have a great Christmas than for me to wait to for my knee to heal properly.”
Now that he is 100 percent healthy, Karakhanyan is looking forward to his high-stakes showdown with Curran.
“He’s a really good counter puncher and he has a good right hand,” he said. “Sometimes he tends to wait too long to do things and you could see that when he fought Pitbull (Patricio Freire) and Weichel. When he waits too long, he tends to get hit but overall he keeps his standup pretty tight. He has a good wrestling background and overall he’s a very tough opponent.
“But MMA is so crazy because you can be the best guy in the gym, beating up everybody but when the lights are on you, will you fold?” he continued. “For me, I like pressure. I like being in the moment and it’s a matter of who wants it most. I want this victory more than anything. I’m sure he does, too, but I want it more.”