Featherweight Georgi Karakhanyan had a pretty good year in 2012. For starters, he won three fights in three different promotions. One was a title defense in the Tachi Palace Fights promotion.
But now, he may be ready for greener pastures. The 27-year-old former professional soccer player is 20-3-1 and hasn’t lost in two years, when, as a 24-year-old, he succumbed to the highly respected fists of Patricio Freire. That was during his stint with Bellator.
Now, it might be time for a stint in the Octagon. Here are five reasons why I think the UFC should sign him.
Things are looking up for the featherweight division. The weight class has enjoyed a talent infusion, as successful fighters like Anthony Pettis, Frankie Edgar, Clay Guida, Dennis Siver and even Nik Lentz have, for various reasons, made the move to 145 pounds.
Nevertheless, things get a little spotty outside the top 10, with many of those fighters having suffered key losses lately or just generally failing to capture the imagination of the masses. Karkhanyan’s addition would give the brain trust an interesting new puzzle piece when making undercard match ups. Karakhanyan has a rare blend of youth, at just age 27, and experience, with 24 pro fights already under his belt. And he hasn’t been plucking those wins out of the recycling bin, either. His two most recent victims were formerThe Ultimate Fighter contestant Micah Miller and longtime Dream veteran Hiroyuki Takaya.
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It’s not unimportant that during his regular rotation of California combat gyms, Karakhanyan regularly works with a wealth of UFC-level talent.
At Hye Fighters, an Armenian combat sports gym, he teams with Gegard Mousasi, Manny Gamburyan and Jared Papazian.
At Millennia MMA, he learns alongside fighters like Lorenz Larkin, Charlie Valencia and top planetary flyweight Darrell Montague (and while we’re talking about the UFC signing fighters, why not this guy?).
At the Glendale Fight Club, he works with UFC bantamweight slugger Francisco Rivera and some girl named Ronda Rousey.
He’s also a close partner with featherweight standout Cub Swanson and actually cornered Swanson for his huge win on Saturday over Dustin Poirier.
So if it’s a professional pedigree that you want in your UFC signee, Karakhanyan has it in spades.
Karakhanyan is currently a free agent. The promotion for which he holds a belt, Tachi Palace Fights, is very much in limbo. Perhaps that, as well as his recent eye-opening win streak, are what have made him such a sought-after commodity on the recent market.
Not surprisingly, Bellator is in the running to lock him up. More surprisingly, so is the Glory MMA/kickboxing outfit. He has reportedly met with UFC officials as well. No matter where he goes, now is the time for action if you’re a promotion.
That brings me to my next slide.
The thing is, Russians are sort of good at fighting. And Bellator is quickly building a very nice brand in that arena. It’s definitely better than being known for signing criminals.
For the record, Karakhanyan was born and raised in Russia and is now an American citizen. But it’s certainly not a stretch to consider this signing another valuable addition to any promotion’s roster of Russian fighters—or for the signing to be promoted as such.