Can Karo Parisyan Overcome Panic at UFC 123?

It's no secret that Armenian judoka Karo Parisyan is one of my favorite MMA fighters. Karo is one of the true technical innovators in…

By: Nate Wilcox | 13 years ago
Can Karo Parisyan Overcome Panic at UFC 123?
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

It’s no secret that Armenian judoka Karo Parisyan is one of my favorite MMA fighters. Karo is one of the true technical innovators in MMA history. While more decorated judo players, like Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida, had competed in MMA before him, Parisyan was the first to pull off really flashy judo throws in modern MMA.

Parisyan made the grip modifications necessary in a no-gi environment to land text book judo techniques like seoi-nage, osoto-gari, and tai-otoshi with a consistency that made him a fan favorite. While he missed his one title shot opportunity when he got hurt and had to drop out of his bout with Matt Hughes at UFC 56, he built an impressive UFC record and was a staple of top 10 lists until 2008.

That’s when a nasty combination of his lazy training habits, painkillers and panic attacks brought his UFC career to a halt. He gets a shot at redemption against Dennis Hallman this Saturday at UFC 123.

Sherdog details Karo’s ordeal:

In the afternoon before his bout with Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 13, Parisyan’s body began behaving strangely. He urinated 45 to 50 times in the hours leading up to the fight. He could not sit down or relax.

A flood of concerns raced through his head: purchasing a new house, relationships with women, expectations from his friends and family, pain medications he was taking. There was also the small matter of having to walk out in front of more than 6,000 people and fight another man in a cage.

“I didn’t want to fight,” Parisyan says. “I was terrified of everything. I was cold, I was shivering and I had to get up and fight in the UFC against a guy who worked his ass off to knock my head off. After the fight, I didn’t care about anything. I was just relieved that I was done.

“It was tough to see him like that, real tough,” (training partner Andy) Dermenjian says. “It’s almost to that point where he’s like a brother to me and you can’t help him. You can’t do anything. Me and him stood up all night, and I watched him walk left to right, left to right, left to right all night long. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I knew there was nothing I could do for him.”

Sergio Non talked to Karo and got him to open up about the anxiety issues:

People have killed themselves having half of the (stuff) that I went through. I’m not being cocky. I’m not being (a jerk). I’m being honest here.

In the past two years I’ve been through stuff. I’ve been through hell and I’ve been back. People don’t know what I went through.

“Karo is a mess.” I might have been a mess. I might still be a mess in a certain way. But I’m trying to put that leg forward.

Here’s hoping that Karo can pull it together for one more run at the UFC belt.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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