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Karo "The Heat" Parisyan wants a title shot

Look at several of the top welterweights in mixed martial arts and you will notice one thing that they have in common ? Karo "The Heat" Parisyan has beaten them.
The current UFC Welterweight champion Matt Serra fell to Parisyan back in 2005 via unanimous decision. The Bodog Welterweight champion Nick Thompson was stopped in the first round against Parisyan just over a year ago. And Nick Diaz ? who knocked out Pride Lightweight champion Takanori Gomi but had the decision reversed to a no contest after he tested positive for marijuana ? lost a split decision to Parisyan in 2005.

Despite all his success, having already fought eight times in the UFC going 6-2, the 24-year-old Parisyan is still waiting for his shot at the belt. He hopes to keep on winning and getting a title shot in the not too distant future.

"I'm trying to get a title shot by the end of the year. I don't know if I will get it, only God knows. I just pray and train and I hope that the outcome is good," Parisyan told MMAFighting.com. "I do get impatient waiting for a title shot. I am like top five in the world. If you stack up your wins they can't deny you a title fight. I basically just look to win and if I am worthy enough, then the UFC will give me a title fight; if I'm not then I wont get it."

Unfortunately for Parisyan, a series of setbacks has forced him to climb back up the ladder, virtually from the bottom. First, at UFC 56, Parisyan was to face then welterweight champion Matt Hughes. The fight was not meant to be, though, as Karo tore his hamstring and was forced to back out of the title opportunity. Instead, Joe Riggs stepped in, came in overweight, and was submitted in the first round.

Then, after stopping Thompson, Parisyan lost a close decision to Diego Sanchez in what was one of the best fights from 2006. Now "The Heat" finds himself having to face former Ultimate Fighter contestant Josh Burkman this Saturday at UFC 71 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Whether or not a victory will mean at shot at the winner of Serra and Hughes is up to the powers that be.

"I had my title shot and I tore my hamstring before the Hughes fight and I had to come back and work my way up and it messed up a lot in my head," Parisyan said. "But it is what it is and I just have to deal with it, move on and stack up my wins."

"I have a victory over Nick [Diaz]. I have a victory over the current world champion Matt Serra in a dominating way, thank God. At the same time I have a victory over Nick Thompson who just took the title in Bodog in Russia. I can sit there and say listen, I have victories over all these guys and I have beaten them in a very decisive way, I would like to get a title shot. It is all up to Dana and Joe Silva. What ever they decide my path is I want to take it, but I will hopefully beat Josh Burkman and I am going to ask for them to give me a title shot."

Even though Karo has his sights set on winning the UFC title, he knows that he can't overlook Burkman.

The Salt Lake City resident has a 4-1 record in the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back decision victories over Chad Reiner and Josh Neer. His only loss was a second round submission defeat at the hands of Jon Fitch.

Burkman trains with Randy Couture and Team Quest. He is an experienced wrestler. Karo describes him as, "good at everything, not great at any one thing."

Parisyan, who was born in Yerevan, Armenia and now lives in Northern Hollywood, Calif., is expecting this matchup to be an exciting fight for the fans.

"He is very athletic and he has a lot of confidence ? he says he will be the first guy to finish me ? well we will find out," Parisyan said. "He is a tough guy. He has pretty heavy hands, is a good wrestler. I think skill-wise my skills are a lot higher than his."

Parisyan's cousin, Manny Gamburyan, who is now making a name for himself on The Ultimate Fighter 5, has been in Parisyan's corner ever since the two came over from Armenia. If anybody knows Karo, it is Manny ? and vise-versa. Gamburyan says that what makes Parisyan so unique is his fighting style in-and-of itself.

"We both know each other very well and when we fight we don't fool around, we just go 100 percent," Gamburyan said. "He has techniques like you have never seen before. He is a different fighter than anybody out there, that's what makes him so good."

When Parisyan reflects back to his time spent in Armenia, a scene that he says resembled De Niro's A Bronx Tale ? you can see exactly where Parisyan the fighter was born.

"I didn't go to school much back there," Parisyan said. "Basically I would eat, sleep, wake up, fight, stuff like that."

Parisyan's family came to California in 1989 looking for a better life for his two sisters and himself ? the dream that would bring the Gamburyan family to the United States two years later.

Gamburyan started training at Gokor Chivichyan's Hayastan Academy where Parisyan later joined him. From there they met and learned under "Judo" Gene Lebell and the Armenians went on to become two of the elite Judo practitioners in the world.

Parisyan got his start in MMA as a young fight fan.

"I remember watching the first UFC when I was 10, 11 years old and I fell in love with it," Parisyan recalled. "A bunch of us went down to Mexico to fight, I was a 13-year-old kid. I fought a Mexican fighter by the name of Daniel Lopez with a good reputation and I fought him for five rounds. That's what started it."

Lebell had seen the makings of a great fighter from the moment he starting training Parisyan. Parisyan was 8-years-old and a natural, according to Lebell. So too was Manny. They would enter into Judo competitions and flip-flop placing first and second.

"I hope that Karo becomes one of the great ones," Lebell said. "You have to work hard for that, you have to be a fanatic and he and his cousin are fanatics."

What has jumped out at Lebell since he first started dealing with Karo is his strength, which he describes as being strong for not only welterweight, but also any weight class. Parisyan also is incredibly well coordinated ? as is evidence by his now legendary throws ? and that he has a killer instinct. Put all these ingredients together and you can see how Parisyan has achieved such great success.

Before Parisyan can be considered one of the greats, though, he has to work his way back up the ladder. That starts with Burkman. While "The Heat" hopes for a title shot before the end of the year, even he knows that in the talent-laden welterweight division, that timetable might be ambitious.

For the time being, Parisyan will look to keep on winning, because if he keeps on winning, then they can't deny him his dream.

"I still have to take care of Josh right now. I haven't fought and won yet, so I have to do my best right now," Parisyan said. "I am training my butt off trying to keep in top shape for this fight. Most of my fights I don't train that much. For this fight I have been training very hard and God willing I will get a decisive victory over Josh Burkman and continue to stack up the wins."

With Hughes and Serra to fight at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter 6, where they will both be coaches, and a match up between George St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck slated for UFC 74, this game of musical chairs means that it may be a while before Parisyan gets his shot at the crown.