Karo Parisyan has been that contender who has always been on the cusp of a UFC welterweight title shot. In 2005, he was slated to take on then reigning champion Matt Hughes at UFC 55 when he was forced to withdraw due to an injury. Parisyan never did receive his shot at the belt after healing and had lost to Diego Sanchez in his second fight back from injury.
He then defeated his next three opponents and was matched up in a potential No. 1 contender bout against Thiago Alves. Unfortunately for "The Heat," he succumbed to a knee and a succession of punches that forced the referee to call the bout.
Now, the Armenian is looking to get back to his old form against a high level judoka in Yoshiyuki Yoshida. One thing that he'll also have to fight is a recent influx of panic attacks. "I had some panic attacks going on and I didn't even know what it was until I went to the doctor," explained Parisyan in a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio. "I'm trying to cope with that stuff... at the same time, just training and trying to make my way up to the top again."
Now that he has pinpointed what has been affecting him, he has been figuring out how to suppress the attacks. "Hopefully," he said when asked if he had the attacks under control. "That's the one thing that you have to figure out... what triggers that (stuff) and once you figure it out, you try to stay away from stuff like that. Life is a whole experience."
The experience was traumatic for the UFC veteran and prior to him having these panic attacks, he didn't even know what one was. "Everyday you find something new about yourself. I didn't even know what a panic attack was. The truth is that it's not about panicking. It's like your mind travels 135 MPH. Your heartbeat goes through the roof and you can't find yourself. The worst part is when you tell yourself, 'is this ever going to leave me? Am I ever going to get through this? Am I ever going to heal?' It starts kicking your ass."
Parisyan had even made a trip out to Greg Jackson's camp to train, but unfortunately, the panic attacks seemed to keep him from staying there too long. Luckily, Jackson was able to come out for a little while and help Parisyan prepare for his upcoming bout.
"He had like eight guys fighting the day he came out here," commented Parisyan gratefully. "He still made the trip out here to help me out, see where I'm at in my training, my conditioning. We worked on some technique. We put the game plan together and we'll see what's going to happen."
One serious part of Parisyan's game that he has been working on diligently is his cardio. Many people have long said that his biggest weakness is his endurance and stamina. Realizing that he needed to work on that, he has taken a very serious approach to improving that part of his game. "I'm trying to concentrate on cardio. Doing a lot of sprint work, grappling, sparring, all kinds of stuff. A lot of pad work. Training is going pretty good. First time I'm going injury free. Everything is going okay so far."
Yoshida is the toughest Judoka-turned-mixed-martial-artist that Parisyan has ever faced. He believes he is a better overall fighter than Yoshida, and that will be the difference maker in the fight. However, Parisyan holds a lot of respect for his opponent and was nothing but complementary about him.
"He's a real good judo guy. He has good ground and pound. He has fairly decent submissions. His strength is my strength so I think when we clash it'll be fireworks. This is the first time I fought a real athlete. No disrespect to the guys I've fought before. This is the first time I'm fighting an Olympic caliber judo guy and I have a lot of respect for him. I'm going to go in that cage and give it my all," said the 26-year-old.
"I think I'm a better MMA fighter than he is, however you never know what will happen in a fight. I'm just hoping and praying that I'll come in good shape for this fight and give the crowd what they want to see."