With no major MMA events happening this weekend, I had to look to the regional circuit to find the fight of the week.  Even though there isn’t a UFC event, there are a host of UFC veterans and stars fighting this week.  After going through the names, one stood out more than the rest: Karo Parisyan.

Parisyan will square off with John Gunderson for the vacant ShoFIGHT welterweight title at ShoFIGHT 20 on June 16 from Springfield, Mo.  Parisyan is a name well known to many MMA fans.  He was a consensus top 10 welterweight for years and was always on the cusp of getting a UFC title shot, but things just never worked out.

Parisyan is also well known for the way he left the UFC.  After years of competing on the biggest stage, he developed severe panic attacks that forced him to struggle in and out of the cage.  Parisyan was scheduled to train with Greg Jackson, but had to leave after an attack.  He also backed out of his scheduled bout at UFC 88 right before the weigh-ins.

After apparently getting his panic attacks back under control, he defeated Dong Hyun Kim, only for everyone to learn that Parisyan was also struggling with a painkiller addiction.  The fight was overturned to a no-contest.  The UFC gave Parisyan another chance at UFC 106.  He once again backed out the day before the weigh-ins, but was brought back for one more chance at UFC 123 where the former top 10 fighter lost and disappeared from the organization with a whisper.

Since leaving the UFC, Parisyan has had mixed results, but now finds himself in a title fight.  His opponent may not be as well known as Parisyan, but Gunderson is a long-time veteran.  He first appeared on the big stage as part of Ken Shamrock’s IFL team, but he had been competing in the sport for five years by then.  Gunderson did find his way to the UFC’s big stage where he went 1-2.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match-up against one another.

Striking:  Parisyan – 5, Gunderson – 5

Neither man is really know for their striking game or power.  In 29 fights, Parisyan has never been able to knock out an opponent, although he does have one submission due to strikes.  Gunderson isn’t much better.  In 48 fights, he has only been able to knock out four opponents.

Parisyan (L) delivers a head kick (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

Both fighters have suffered some knockout losses.  Parisyan in particular can be drawn into some wild brawls and exchanges that have made for some really exciting fights but don’t really give him much of an advantage.

I would be shocked if this fight came down to these two fighters’ striking skills.

Clinch:  Parisyan – 8, Gunderson – 6

Parisyan’s size and strength advantage will play a role in the clinch game.  When you mix in his versatility and intensity in this position, it gives him a clear advantage.  In addition to laying into an opponent with elbows or knees, Parisyan will use his judo from the clinch to execute beautiful throws.

Gunderson’s clinch game is used more to drive an opponent against the fence and grind for a takedown.  He has shown a limited offensive attack out of the clinch in the fights I have seen.

Ground Game:  Parisyan – 8, Gunderson – 7

Both men will look at some point to get this fight to the ground.  Between them, they have 36 submission victories.  Both men possess solid submission skills from both the top or the bottom, if necessary.

Gunderson (top) pounds away (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Defensively, Parisyan has never been submitted in his career while Gunderson has been submitted just five times.  Parisyan also gets a slight edge in this area based on the competition he has faced and been able to defend against, including guys like Matt Serra and Nick Diaz.

Wrestling:  Parisyan – 5, Gunderson – 6

Neither fighter has superb takedowns or amazing traditional wrestling skills.  Parisyan will look to his judo throws to score takedowns more than wrestling.  Gunderson also does not have stellar wrestling, but what he lacks in pure wrestling skills he makes up for in determination.  If he can get his hands on an opponent’s legs, he will drive and drive until he finally secures a takedown.


The x-factor for this fight has to be the mental game.  Physically, Parisyan is a top-level talent.  However, he has struggled with addictions and panic attacks.  Even beyond these struggles, Parisyan has been lulled into fighting opponents’ games far too often.

Total:  Parisyan – 26, Gunderson – 24

Verdict: Parisyan has a clear edge in this battle.  He has faced the tougher competition in his career.  In addition, stylistically, this is a fight Parisyan should win.

Top Photo: Karo Parisyan works from the top position (Jeff Clark/Sherdog)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.