A hamstring injury cost Karo Parisyan his biggest opportunity. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
8. Matt Hughes vs. Karo Parisyan
UFC 56 “Full Force” | Nov. 19, 2005
Parisyan was one of the mainstays of the UFC’s welterweight division during the mid-2000s -- he was an accomplished judo practitioner with beautiful takedowns, slick grappling and some of the best scrambling ability seen up to that point in MMA. His fight with Georges St. Pierre at UFC 46 in the future champion’s Octagon debut was like watching the future of MMA wrestling and grappling unfold before your very eyes.
Despite his obvious talent and numerous high-quality wins over the likes of Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, Matt Serra, Shonie Carter and Josh Burkman, Parisyan never challenged for a title. He was scheduled to do so at UFC 56, taking on reigning champion Hughes, who had regained the belt after his shocking loss to B.J. Penn at UFC 46. It profiled as a fantastic matchup of exceptionally talented wrestle-grapplers, and Parisyan claimed to have put himself through the first real training camp of his career in preparation for the fight.
A little more than three weeks out from the matchup, Parisyan suffered a hamstring injury and, despite his protestations that he would be able to fight, was removed from the card and replaced by Joe Riggs. “Diesel” then failed to make weight and was dominated by Hughes to boot. Parisyan won his next fight but lost a razor-thin decision to the rising Diego Sanchez the next year, and he never again rose to the top of the heap.
Parisyan claims to have been offered a shot at the welterweight title at UFC 68 -- an offer that was rescinded shortly thereafter -- but this has never been confirmed. In the years since, his career took a sharp downturn, as Parisyan lost a high-profile matchup against Thiago Alves and tested positive for painkillers after a close victory over Dong Hyun Kim; he has never been the same fighter. The lost title shot against Hughes stands as a reminder that the window is only open for a little while and that opportunities do not last forever.
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