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Gamburyan: I Won't Be Surprised if I Knock Aldo Out With a Flying Knee

If you like your fighters humble, friendly, and loquacious, look elsewhere. Manny Gamburyan is not for you.

Gamburyan isn't the guy you're going to see eagerly signing autographs and doing fist-pose photos with fans in crowded shopping malls. He's not the cuddly, PR-friendly fighter. He's five-and-a-half feet of angry Armenian, and he doesn't care that you don't think he has a chance in his title shot against Jose Aldo at WEC 51 on Thursday night.

"I get excited when I hear that. I love being the underdog," Gamburyan told MMA Fighting. "That's how it was when I fought Mike Brown too, right? I wasn't supposed to win that either, right? I'm something like a 6-1 underdog. That's better for my fans and my friends, because now they can bet on me and make lots of money."

It's hard to tell if Gamburyan is fed up with always being counted out before he ever steps in the cage, or if he's just tired of being asked about it.

Nobody gave him much of a chance on season five of "The Ultimate Fighter," he points out, but he still made it to the finals before a shoulder injury did him in during the finale.

After he dropped to featherweight and won two straight in the WEC, people said he was in over his head against former champ Mike Brown. That is, until he knocked Brown out in the first round.

According to Gamburyan, it's the same story now that he's facing Aldo. People think he'll be too slow on the feet and vastly outmatched in the striking game.

"People thought I couldn't stand with Mike Brown too," Gamburyan said. "But I've worked a lot of my boxing. I knew I had a chance to knock him out, and that's what I did. When I fight, you should expect anything and everything. I won't be surprised if I knock [Aldo] out with a jumping knee."

If it does happen that way, Gamburyan might be the only person in the MMA world who isn't surprised. Most oddsmakers have him somewhere in the neighborhood of a 4-1 underdog on the day of the fight, and fans seem to be regarding the main event bout as another chance to see Aldo show off his skills rather than as a truly difficult test for the Brazilian.

The good news for Gamburyan is that since there's almost no one picking him to unseat the champ, he doesn't have to worry about living up to expectations. For all practical purposes, there are none.

"There's no pressure on me," said Gamburyan. "He's the champ, so the pressure's on him. Nobody thinks I can win, so there's no pressure on me. Maybe when I get the belt it will be different, but right now it's all on him."

Still, what most people see when they look at Aldo is the terrifying hand speed, the kicks that you don't notice until they've already thumped against your body or your legs. They see a guy with no obvious weaknesses.

But when you talk to Gamburyan, you get the sense that either he sees things others don't, or else you must be watching two different fighters.

"He has a lot of holes," Gamburyan said, as if this was somehow common knowledge. "His stand-up is pretty good, but he makes a lot of mistakes. I'm just going to go in there and try and capitalize on those."

If he can locate those holes, Gamburyan will be only the second fighter to ever successfully do it, and the first since Aldo's move to the WEC in 2008.

It's okay if nobody but him thinks he can do it, Gamburyan said. He's the only one who needs to.

"We all saw what happened to Fedor," he said. "Nobody expected him to get caught in a triangle choke and armbar at the same time. But it happens. A fight's a fight. Everybody's beatable, nobody's invincible."