Georgi Karakhanyan (23-4-1) returns in Bellator 132’s main card. After leaving Bellator in 2011, Georgi went on a successful 9-fight winning streak leading all the way up to a WSOF lightweight championship title victory over Lance Palmer. We ask what it’s like coming back after nearly 4 years and what it will take to defeat his opponent Bubba Jenkins at Bellator 132.
Scifighting: What brings you back to the Bellator after fighting in WSOF and Dream?
Georgi: I like the organization a lot. When I left WSOF, my manager got me a contract with them and told me they were interested so I was glad to be back with Bellator.
SF: What are the most important factors when incorporating striking with a jiu-jitsu background like yours?
Georgi: To not just focus on the submission. Maybe stand like you’re going for a submission but throw an elbow. Pretend like you’re going for a punch but go for a submission. If you can’t get it, just let it go and move on. A lot of the jiu-jitsu guys just hold onto something and just go for it the whole time. If it doesn’t work, you just start punching your opponent and stand back up.
SF: So adaptability is the key factor.
Georgi: Yes. To me, I like a lot of violence and I like to punch people in the face so even though I love going for submissions I mean, there’s nothing better than punching someone in the face and seeing them break.
SF: Your opponent Bubba Jenkins does not have the same amount of fighting experience as you. What are some characteristic mistakes of less experienced fighters?
Georgi: They take fights at the wrong time in their career. They think that because they’ve been NCAA Division 1 champions they can come in and fight. Look at Daniel Cormier, he’s a sick wrestler but it’s a different world when you fight in MMA. I mean it’s a great base, I wish I was a wrestler coming into MMA. I know some of the accomplished wrestlers are very stuck up. Sometimes they think oh, I’ll just hold the guy down and keep him down but it’s different man. You might have no wrestling experience but you will take down a very experienced wrestler because it’s an MMA fight, so that’s the most important thing.
SF: Where do you see MMA going in the future? How is the professional level developing?
Georgi: I think we’re moving towards excellence. We need more organizations-I feel like as a fighter, Bellator is doing a lot of great things and I feel like Bellator will be this year’s #1 organization even though UFC is up there. If you really look at the Bellator roster, there’s a lot a lot of tough fighters that don’t get recognition because they don’t open up their mouth like some of the UFC guys. I feel like Bellator will be doing a lot of great stuff this year.
SF: As a Moscow native, how long do think it will be before Bellator hosts an event in Russia?
Georgi: I’m hoping either this year or next year. I hope I’m on the card because I have a lot of support from Russia, a lot of fans that support me on a daily basis and I have a lot of family members there. Hopefully if we go to Russia we’ll go to Moscow, that’s a good spot to throw a show.
SF: You took a boxing match against Tatsuro Irie in 2012. What made you want to test your skills in the ring?
Georgi: It was hard for me to find any fights here. I just wanted to test my skills in the boxing ring, sharpen up my tools and see what it felt like. It’s for sure way different than MMA, I just had to keep my hands up and after the first round it felt just like sparring at the gym. It was just fun and it was a good experience. I also want to get into kickboxing, hopefully Glory. I like kicking coming from a soccer background so hopefully that will happen one day.
SF: We’re big fans of Glory too. It will be interesting to see how Bellator and Glory alternate their fight roster.
Georgi: Joe Schilling was training for his fight with Melvin Manhoef with us. He was at training camp with us so it was cool to spar with a guy like him even though he was way bigger than me, I learned a lot of stuff from him. When I was in WSOF I was in talks with Glory, but we could not work anything out because of the contract. Now that I’m with Bellator maybe we could do something.
SF: You first started in Bellator in 2010 in the featherweight tournament. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of the tournament format?
Georgi: The advantages are that for people like me that like to stay busy a lot, you win and you keep going. The disadvantage is that there’s so many tournaments that you don’t know who won last year or this year. Other than that I feel like the way it’s going right now, it’s way better.
(Georgi Karakhanyan wins the WSOF featherweight title)
SF: What is your gameplan against Bubba Jenkins? He has a very decorated wrestling pedigree as an NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion.
Georgi: Even though he has a good wrestling background I’m not expecting him to just wrestle me. I have to go in there and be prepared for anything, just be 100% ready for anything. Fighting changes you as a person, It makes you a totally different person. Right now I don’t care about anything, I just want to go out there and fight. I’m expecting everything from Bubba.
SF: Is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
Georgi: Thank you for everything and thanks to my supporters. Tune in January 16th to Spike for Bellator 132.