Manny Gamburyan had his first fight in the UFC at The Ultimate Fighter 5 finale in 2007. He lost to Nate Diaz in the finals as a lightweight. Eight years later he’s now 34 years old and competing as a bantamweight. He’s had 13 UFC fights, with four WEC bouts in-between. He’s faced everyone from Leonard Garcia to Jose Aldo. Gamburyan has been around a long time.
Perhaps that why it feels like a slap in the face that Bryan Caraway, the guy he’s been actively lobbying to fight next, is giving him the cold shoulder. Gamburyan said during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that Caraway
"I just felt real disrespected," Gamburyan said. "I really want to punch him in the face dude. Even if I see him on the street or anywhere outside of a fight, he better walk with a bodyguard or something like that, because I want to punch him."
The contentiousness between Gamburyan and Caraway -- himself an alum of TUF 14 -- goes back to the taping of The Ultimate Fighter 18, when Gamburyan’s training partner Ronda Rousey was coaching opposite Caraway’s girlfriend, Miesha Tate. With the Tate and Rousey rivalry at a pitch for reality television cameras, the peripheral coaches began to spat as well. Things between Rousey’s head coach Edmond Tarverdyan and Caraway also got heated.
At one point, Gamburyan says, a grappling match was purposed by Dana White between him and Caraway, to help quash the tension. Gamburyan says that Caraway balked at the idea, declining to participate.
The history between the two goes into why Gamburyan, who has won back-to-back fights against Cody Gibson and Scott Jorgensen since dropping to bantamweight, wants a piece of Caraway, who is coming off a decision victory over Eddie Wineland at UFC on FOX 16 in Chicago.
"It’s one of those fights I’ve wanted to have for a long time," Gamburyan told Ariel Helwani. "When we were on the show with Ronda things weren’t going well between me and Bryan Caraway. Why not get in there in fight since Miesha and Ronda are going to fight. I’m looking for that third fight actually."
Ideally, with Tate now locked into a title shot against Rousey (should she defend her title at UFC 190 against Bethe Correia), Gamburyan would like to make himself part of a package deal. He wants a fight
"Most likely, if everything goes well, me and Bryan should be on the same card also," he said.
It’s not just the rivalry that is peeving Gamburyan, though. It’s Caraway’s disregard for him as an opponent. After beating Wineland, when asked if he’d be interested in a fight with either Gamburyan or Aljamain Sterling, Caraway said he wanted to get somebody higher ranked that help him make headway towards a title shot.
This didn’t sit well with Gamburyan.
"He says I need to work on some stuff before I can fight him," he said. "Let me tell you something, man. When I was fighting with the UFC, this guy was still in diapers. I’ve been in the UFC for nine years. I’ve been fighting since I was 15 years old.
"I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about, me, I need to work on some stuff. Just say it out loud, ‘I don’t want to fight you.’ I’ll move on and I’ll never call you out anymore. But to sit there and tell all the people, all the media and everyone else that I need to work on something, that’s not the proper way. He can man up and tweet or go on [The MMA Hour] and say you know what Manny, I don’t want to fight you. I promise you I’ll never call him out again."
When it was brought up that the No. 6-ranked Caraway regarded him as a step back, Gamburyan said his name value alone is worth the price of booking.
"I’m not a step back," he said. "I’ve been in this game for so many years. What is it exactly you lose if it’s a step back? Because I’m not ranked? I’m one of the biggest names at 135 pounds. He’s never fought a bigger name than me."
Gamburyan couldn’t hold back from taking one more jab at Caraway before switching topics.
"Who is this guy?" he said. "He’s not even Bryan Caraway. He’s Mr. Tate."