Impact FC 1 Notebook: Barnett Understands Anger Over Stoppage; Parisyan Survives Tough Week

By Jordan Breen Jul 12, 2010
BRISBANE, Australia -- The stoppage Josh Barnett earned over Geronimo "Mondragon" dos Santos Saturday at Impact FC “The Uprising” wasn't a particularly popular one. It's a sentiment "The Babyfaced Assassin" can understand, even if he doesn't necessarily agree.

"I get why he's upset. He thought this was his big chance. He wanted to be done done. Even though he got up and couldn't walk a straight line, as a fighter, I understand where he's coming from," Barnett explained to after the bout. "He lost, but part of me thinks (the ref) should've let it go. Hell, you saw Brock Lesnar go fetal.

"I took severe advantage not of his lack of experience but his ring generalship," Barnett elaborated. "He didn't have that awareness. It's not that he's a terrible fighter. I just know how to work the system, how to get those easy takedowns and positions and dominate."

The win was the sixth consecutive victory for Barnett, who remains unbeaten since his New Year's Eve 2006 rematch loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. However, wins over the likes of Pedro Rizzo, Jeff Monson and Gilbert Yvel are solid but unspectacular on the resume of the former UFC heavyweight champion. Barnett is positive about his immediate future prospects, though.

"I'm an architect of my own fate, so you can imagine there's some CAD drawings of where I'm going and what I'm doing," he quipped. "Opportunities are going to come to me. Tom Huggins has a bunch of stuff in the works and is hot to use me. There's always a possibility for Sengoku or Dream, even though Japanese MMA is crippled right now."

Up first for the self-proclaimed "world's strongest pro-wrestler" will be a puroresu stint in September for the Inoki Genome Federation. However, Barnett is just as eager to get back into the gym as he is to get into the ring or the cage. He told he's excited to continue working with Nicolas Sainac, the 1988 savate Grand Cup champion, whom Barnett said is "like a surgeon with his feet."

Barnett's chances to get back into the good graces of fans and critics likely rest stateside. After testing positive for steroids following his bouts with Bobby Hoffman and Randy Couture in 2001 and 2002 respectively, a failed pre-licensing test in California last July nixed a slated bout with then-heavyweight ruler Fedor Emelianenko. The bout cancelation proved to be the nail in the coffin for clothing line Affliction's promotional aspirations.

Unfazed, Barnett maintains his innocence and said he has no apprehensions about applying for another license stateside should the opportunity arise.

"I'll apply when available," he said. "I'll go up in front of those guys and see what they say, and do my thing. I offered to go up and give them another test. I said, 'I'll take the test right now,' when they said I had a bad one. When it comes time, I'll do it."

Parisyan Still Fighting More Than Just an Opponent

Parisyan vs. Mortimer - photo: Scott Clark/

To say that Karo Parisyan's week in Brisbane was nerve-racking would be a blistering understatement.

It was the veteran's first bout in more than 18 months. Scheduled for a November encounter with Dustin Hazelett at UFC 106, Parisyan pulled out two days before the bout, citing anxiety issues. The incident led to his dismissal from the UFC despite being once tabbed as a win-or-lose promotional favorite who seemed guaranteed to fight in the Octagon for his full career. It also brought to the forefront Parisyan's crippling battle with anxiety, which was again prominent during his stay in Australia.

Originally set to face tough Brazilian Luis Dutra Jr., Parisyan's opponent was replaced early in the week after Dutra separated his bicep in preparation. Parisyan was then paired up against Ben Mortimer, a local with less than a year of pro experience. However, the switch to a seemingly less challenging opponent only seemed to agitate "The Heat," who paced the fighter hotel nervously for much of the week. It became commonplace to hear people ask promoter Tom Huggins, "How's Karo?"

"When you have an anxiety problem, everything gets to you," Parisyan told after his second-round submission over Mortimer. "Why's the door closed? Why are the curtains open? You have to learn to control it. If anyone is ever in my shoes, they'll never judge me over what happened with the UFC."

Parisyan's anxiety came to a head just less than an hour before fight time, when he asked Huggins to move his fight from the seventh to first in the bout order.

"I got my family back home and they were going crazy. It was the first time they couldn't watch me fight live. They were going ballistic," Parisyan said. "I said, 'Dad, the best I can do is tell them to bump my fight up.' I told Tom, 'I don't care about the co-main event crap. Just let me fight first.'"

Parisyan's connection to his family back in California was easily the biggest stresser for him. Not only did he worry about them, he worried about them worrying about him, which only exacerbated his anxiety. However, after the bout was over and Parisyan was able to talk to his family, he did a complete 180. Suddenly, the jittery, edgy character that had roamed the hotel halls all week was in the crowd taking pictures with fans, cornering other fighters and was all too excited to talk.

"This whole week, it's been really bad at certain moments,” Parisyan said. “Sometimes, it's just like you're buried under it. I gotta help my family, I gotta do this, I gotta do that. It's so unbelievably overwhelming. It was kicking my ass, staying away from home. Talking to them with the time difference was crazy."

Poetically, as Parisyan finished telling me this, his phone went off; it was a text from a family member. Back in California, it wasn't even 6 a.m. yet.

Moving Toward Impact FC 2

Impact FC promoter Tom Huggins didn't get to enjoy his promotion's inaugural show as much as one would anticipate. Perhaps it's because he's already promoted more than 160 shows in his 15-plus years in the game, or because he got a worse diagnosis than any fighter on the card from the event doctor, who told him he had fluid build-up in his lungs. Nonetheless, Huggins was pleased with the "The Uprising" in Brisbane.

"There were good fights. Other than that, it was what it was supposed to be: a first show," said Huggins. "It's all about footage and content. That's what your model has to be if you want to make money. As far as a business model in the industry, the only company that gets big ticket sales in all kinds of different places is the UFC."

Saturday night, Impact FC played before a modest crowd inside a Brisbane Entertainment Centre configured for less than 3,000 people. At this juncture, Huggins has de-emphasized ticket sales as a necessity for Impact, stating that the backbone of the promotion is through its international television and pay-per-view alliances. However, he feels that the promotion's July 18 card at the Sydney Entertainment Centre will have more seats filled.

"Sydney will be a lot more intensive. Probably 80 percent of this show was dress rehearsal, working things out with the production team," said Huggins. "I'm expecting a bigger crowd in Sydney. Guys like Ken [Shamrock] and others have gotten a lot more casual and local interest."

Impact's second card on July 18 in Sydney will air live on pay-per-view in the United States, Canada and Australia, in addition to being available online and will be free-to-air in Brazil on TV Esporte Interativo. The telecast will feature the live main card of the Sydney event and will mix in the best bouts from the July 10 card throughout the show in the same fashion that the UFC sprinkles preliminary bouts into their PPV telecasts.

A smaller yet still salient success of the inaugural Impact FC was less noticeable, but for Tom Huggins, it was a throwback to the sport's past.

"In the old days, there were a lot of relationships between fighters that surprised you. They were organic connections, though. Just guys at shows who became friends, and had a connection that goes deep in the sport and beyond that," explained Huggins. "I think some of those were made with this event."

It's hard to argue with Huggins. Hotel Urban in Brisbane was as much a hangout as it was a home for all those associated with the card over the course of the week. For some, it was simply a matter of meeting small idols: Referee "Big" John McCarthy and cutman extraordinaire Jacob "Stitch" Duran seemed to be taking endless barrages of photos not with fans per se but with fighters who happened to be fans.

However, the connections in some cases were more profound. After defeating Ben Mortimer in the evening's first bout, Karo Parisyan returned to cageside to corner former UFC champion Carlos Newton in his bout against Brian Ebersole, simply because they clicked in the locker room.

Mark Hunt, who was in town cornering Fabio "Galeb" Fernandes, got to chatting with former opponent Josh Barnett and trainer Erik Paulson, and he now plans on spending some portion of his training camp for his September UFC debut at CSW in California. Meanwhile, Team Quest coach Heath Sims offered hulking Brazilian Geronimo "Mondragon" dos Santos the opportunity to come out to train in Murrieta, Calif., and continue to refine his game.

"This is how it always was back then, and really how it always should be,” Huggins said. “I don't want my guys sequestered in their rooms. I want them to be focused and to win, of course, but I want them to have fun.”

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