Bloody Elbow Exclusive Part 2: Karo Parisyan Talks Chris Leben and MMA Politics

Welcome to part 2 of my explosive interview with Karo Parisyan. In part one we discussed his judo credentials as well as training with…

By: Matthew Roth | 12 years ago
Bloody Elbow Exclusive Part 2: Karo Parisyan Talks Chris Leben and MMA Politics
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Welcome to part 2 of my explosive interview with Karo Parisyan. In part one we discussed his judo credentials as well as training with Gene LeBell. Karo also broke down his thoughts on Ronda Rousey and why he chose to pursue the UFC instead of the Athens Olympic games. As previously stated, Karo may be his own worst enemy. He’s brutally honest about everything and many may see his honesty as a negative character trait. I for one appreciated how straight forward and forthcoming he was to my questions. If you haven’t yet read part 1 please do.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – We kind of started to talk about it but I want to get more in depth. You started judo as a kid and you’ve been fighting professionally since 1999…

Karo Parisyan – No, 1996.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – ’96? That was your first professional fight?

Karo Parisyan – I was 14 years old an fought in Mexico.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – Alright so since 1996 and you’ve kept an incredibly active schedule for close to two decades. What kind of toll does that take on the body? Do you wake up in the morning and it’s hard to get up out of bed? Are there lingering issues from those 15 years of MMA and probably another 10 of just judo?

Karo Parisyan – You know, I’m fortunate to say that the only serious injury that I’ve had is when I tore my hamstring when I was supposed to fight for the title. To be a judo guy as long as I have and fighting, I haven’t had that many serious injuries but overall your body eventually starts to crumble. I will be in the best shape of my life and at practice we’ll just have some crazy training randomly and the next day, the next morning when I wake up to get out of bed, I will still be sore. People don’t understand that when I had these anxiety panic attacks and this big fall out of my career, people didn’t want to understand. Can you imagine fighting and training for two decades, 20 years, that’s a long time. 21 years training and competing your entire life. I had a childhood, I did what I had to do but we didn’t have these video games and all this stuff all the time. Today, kids get anything they want. We didn’t have that stuff. I mean we did to a point but it was training. We couldn’t run and do stupid stuff at practice. We had discipline. As crazy as I am and as stupid of stuff as I’ve done, I still have some sort of discipline not to cross that line. That’s how it was. Eventually it takes a toll on your body and you know what? Body, fine. I can deal with the physical pain. It’s the emotional part that kicks your ass a lot where you’re terrified to stand up. You’re knees are shaking to walk in the cage because you’re having panic attacks. People have to understand that. I don’t know. I don’t know.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – Sticking with the same subject…this past week the big story was Chris Leben. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about…

Karo Parisyan – I know and I’ve got a lot of stuff to say about that so come on and give me the question.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – So I guess the first question is that you found yourself in a similar situation. When you had your issues with the UFC, did they try and help you out? They’ve offered Chris help emotionally and also trying to find him rehab for his pain medication.

Karo Parisyan – I know, are you done with the question? It was surprising to me. My friend from Cage Potato Mike, he called me and told me this stuff. When I got popped for it for two pain medications with a prescription. Everybody turned on me. “Oh my god why did he get popped?” I understand why Dana got hurt because of my situation with him. I had a legitimate reason. I had a legitimate script. And I got suspended for 9 months, $32,000 fine, are you f*cking kidding me? I heard Leben got suspended with no fine. Leben’s been suspended for a year. Are you kidding me? Who am I? Am I the red headed stepchild here? What the f*ck happened to me? Apparently commissions are different. Well it should be the same f*cking punishment for everything. That’s the way I see it. Come on, are you kidding me? I didn’t take an enhancement drug to help me beat Dong Hung Kim. On the contrary, I was f*cking drooling in the second round. I didn’t even know where I was because I was on pain medications for my leg. I still won the fight and they took $32,000 from me and at the same time I got a 9 month suspension for that? It doesn’t make anything sense. You should put two and two together and it doesn’t make any sense. And if someone tells me it makes sense let them come tell it to me and maybe I can put it in better terms. I feel that it is really unfair for what I went through. I’m not saying that Chris didn’t go through the same thing. I know somewhat what Chris might be going through. I wish him the best. But I’m just saying that I’m a fighter too. I paid my dues too. I put this sport on the map too in certain ways. I shouldn’t have been treated any differently than Chris or any other fighter.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – Staying on topic, do you think it’s just the nature of the business and sport…

Karo Parisyan – It’s the politics. It’s what I mean when I say the soap opera and the politics behind it. That’s the politics. That’s the bullsh*t that goes on in the sport of mixed martial arts. Whether people want to accept it or not, that’s what it is. I’m never afraid to say it or do it. I’ll say whatever I want whenever I want and if anybody has got something to say, they can say it to me. Listen, my biggest problem has always been that I’ve been too honest in my interviews and it always bit me in the ass. But I’m being honest. It’s not fair. There should be a certain thing. If you do this, this is what you get. No. It’s not fair. If I didn’t get that. If I got this then why didn’t he get the same thing? And it didn’t even make sense. The rules don’t even make f*cking sense.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – I guess my question isn’t so much about the politic end but just as a pure sport. Do you believe that the longer somebody competes in this sport that there will be a greater need for pain killers?

Karo Parisyan – Of course. It’s common sense buddy. Think of it this way. Listen, I never wanted to take the pain medication. I didn’t even know what the f*ck a vicodin was. My friends would talk about it. I was like “who the hell takes a pill? Isn’t a pill like if you’re sick you take a pill?” And they’re like “Yeah”. Like if you talk about drugs, cocaine yeah that’s a drug. But like when they would talk about vicodin and pills, what are you guys even talking about? Who takes pills? I didn’t know anything about it. I tore my hamstring and I got the pain medications and I still didn’t know what the hell vicodins were. But eventually when you’re body starts to crumble and you can’t get out of bed in the morning because your body hurts so much that you can’t even bend down bro. You can’t even bend down to pick something up because everything hurts. Because you got your ass pounded yesterday by 10 friggin guys at the gym. I came out wrong what I just said but you know what I’m talking about. You got beat up. Eventually your body is gonna want something to recover. Yeah there’s other stuff. Yeah let’s be healthy. Let’s do this. Yeah that’s fine. But eventually, if you break something. I have a big knot in the back of my hamstring that was killing me. I didn’t do anything for it. I took a pain medication here and there. I didn’t have to but I did. It’s an addictive thing that’s why people take it and sometimes they start getting addicted to it because it’s a narcotic. But the longer you’re in the sport, the more odds there is that you’re gonna touch that stuff.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – I guess the final question is, looking back on everything. You’re career in the UFC and in judo, do you have any regrets or where you go “I really wish I could have done this differently”?

Karo Parisyan – Yeah I mean I wish I didn’t take those pain medications before that fight. Listen, there’s a lot of things in my life that I can kind of look back and say “I wish I didn’t do this” and “I wish I didn’t do that”. I’ve always said in interviews with people that I dug my own grave. I man up to it. I never blame people. I blame people when people try and step over and walk away. That didn’t give me a hand to pick me up. People that claimed they were friends and family and etcetera. But there’s always going to be things. I can’t pinpoint something. Yeah I wish had trained more for the fight. I wish I hadn’t taken the pain medication to get popped for it. I wish say that a chick that she left me god knows how long ago. I wish I didn’t do all this stuff. But then again, you’ve done it. You’ve gotta look ahead and go on. I’m very pissed at myself man. I’m so upset at myself that I can’t even look at myself in the mirror sometimes for what I’ve done. But when you look at your career and your life, it’s not about the career man. I’ve been fighting all my life, fine. I’ve been doing all this stuff but I have a personal life too. And everything that happens in your career, whether you want to bring it home or not. It automatically comes home. It happens. I don’t know man. My life is a soap opera. If they put a camera on me as a reality show, it would be a unbelievable, I can tell you that much.

Matthew Roth (Bloody Elbow) – Karo I appreciate your time, this has been great. Is there anything else you want to add?

Karo Parisyan – No man, I always say after every interview to the fans, I have a lot of true fans man. I have a lot of true fans and they know who they are. I love each and every one of them with all my heart. If there were no fans out there then no body wants to watch me fight. No body wants to say hi or whatever. There is no Karo “the Heat” Parisyan, it’s all bullsh*t, you have to have people like you and want to watch you fight. And I hope that I can still bring that. I’m only 29 years old, I’m not 30 yet. And I hope I can still bring it in the next six or seven years. It’s like my second era of my life. I had a good run for about seven or eight years when I got in the UFC and I had a little bit of fall out. I want to make that run one more time. It’s such a small part of my life and I don’t want to screw it up. I’ll make that run one more time and I’ll drop jaws.

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Matthew Roth
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