Karo "Heat" Parisyan
When 21 year old Karo Parisyan made his Octagon debut with Gene LeBell and Gokor Chivichyan in his corner, it was like a toddler entering a sandcastle competition with a bulldozer and a case of dynamite. And the result was the same: all hell broke loose.
Born in Yerevan, Armenia, August 28, 1982, Karoís parents opted to migrate to America for a better life when Karo was six years. A temporary hiccup with their paperwork saw the family spend six months in Russia, before eventually arriving in the US. Karo enjoys America, but can remember his early life in Armenia before settling in Hollywood, California, where he has lived for the past fourteen years.
At nine years Parisyan commenced judo lessons with fellow Armenian Gokor Chivichyan. "I was a rough kid. I used to beat up on my sisters. ĎMy father said your sisters donít have your strength. Iíll take you somewhere where you can take your anger out on other people.í So that was pretty much how I got into martial arts," says Parisyan.
Karoís father met Gokorís brothers while they were all living in Armenia, and took Karo along to train with Gokor in California. Gokorís coach was none other than "Judo" Gene LeBell, and at age ten, Karo was training under both men.
Parisyan then became involved in grappling, which he regarded as being an easy transition from judo. Today, he also displays excellent striking skills. "Believe it or not, Iíve picked up a lot just by watching and working on my own striking, on the bag. And Iíve done some training with Gokor. Iíve also worked out with Muay Thai friends of mine. I have done a lot of damage by striking, and won one fight by knockdown. The other victories have been by submission, groundínípound and all that stuff."
Karo Parisyan is the first UFC fighter to have successfully adapted his judo style to the Octagon. "Thank God Iím one of the fortunate guys in Mixed Martial Arts that the judo works for. I am a judo guy and I can actually display my judoÖItís not that because Iím a judo guy that I have to do it. If it doesnít work for me, Iíll never do it. But it does work for me, and I do it somehow. I donít know if I have the rhythm, orÖIím just one of those guys who can do judo, and throw opponents without the gi sometimes. But some guys do need gis to grip onto. So yes, judo is a very big gun that I use in MMA."
In UFC 44, Parisyan faced experienced all-rounder Dave Strasser. The welterweights commenced their bout toe-to-toe, before Karo initiated judo throws and attempted a leg-lock. Later in the round, Parisyan tried for a knee-bar. He eventually defeated Strasser by taking him down with a sumi-gashi that resembled a crocodile death-role, and submitted Dave by kimura arm-bar, 3.52 into Round 1. "The victory was like a dream come true," says Karo.
Gokor Chivichyan specialises in sambo and judo techniques: the sambo leg-locks often being employed by Karo, as displayed in UFC 44.
Karo Parisyan is a dedicated athlete. His workout schedules do include weights, but he eases off from the lifting prior to competition. Karoís typical sessions see him training for approximately three hours, five days a week. "Iím extremely happy and I want to do the best I can. All I do is, I train and I pray. And I hope the outcome is good."
And Karoís life is a rough and tumble affair outside the ring. "Iíve also done a couple of movies. Iíve been a stunt double on TV shows. Basically, Gene LeBell and a lot of the guys I work out with Ė many of them are stunt guys Ė so they hook us up all the time. I was in the movie Tucker. Letís seeÖnot too many stunt doublesÖbut Iíve done acting as well. I was in Break-Up to Make-Up, Never Die and Ultra Violet.
"Gene still coordinates the stunts. Heís seventy-one this Thursday (9 October 2003). Gene Lebell is a great man: one of the most wonderful people Iíve ever met in my life. Heís so kind in every way. Heís a great martial artist, a pioneer of the sport. Heís a legend."
Parisyan now boasts an 18-2 MMA record. But with six Junior National belts to his credit, Karoís true love has remained Judo. "I still compete in judo all the time. Iím in the Olympic trials for 2004."