It hasn’t been the easiest three years or so for Georgi Karakhanyan, but the veteran featherweight says he’s still got plenty left in him.
Karakhanyan won WSOF’s featherweight title in December 2013 when he submitted Lance Palmer. But in his first defense six months later, he was stopped by Rick Glenn and lost the belt. He headed to Bellator after that, but has managed just a 3-3 record in the six fights in his second stint with the promotion.
On Friday, Karakhanyan (26-7-1 MMA, 5-5 BMMA) takes on Daniel Pineda (22-12 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) at Bellator 182, which takes place at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y. The main card airs on Spike following prelims, including Karakhanyan-Pineda, on MMAjunkie.
“I’m still hungry,” Karakhanyan told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’m still training with the same drive. I’m still training like I’m 21. If I wake up one day and don’t have that motivation, then there’s no point of fighting. I still have big goals – big, big plans. I get this question a lot about my age, but I still have the same big plans and big goals.”
Karakhanyan turned 32 in May. By conservative estimates, he still could have quite a few years left in the sport. On Friday, a win over Pineda could be crucial for the Moscow-born California resident.
Prior to surrendering his WSOF title to Rick Glenn, he was on a nine-fight winning streak. But when he’s gone up against slightly tougher competition since then, he hasn’t been able to get his hand raised.
Since returning to Bellator, Karakhanyan has decision losses to Daniel Weichel, former champ Pat Curran and Emmanuel Sanchez, the latter coming at Bellator 170 in January. His wins are over Bubba Jenkins twice and Kirill Medvedovsky, all by finish. A win over Pineda might start to raise his stock again, given his opponent is a seven-fight UFC veteran.
“(What stands out is he’s) overall, well-rounded – a good grinder,” Karakhanyan said. “He’s a good wrestler and mixes up real good. But skill-wise, I don’t think he matches up with me. (When) fight day comes, we’ll see.”
Karakhanyan said he has one more fight on his contract with Bellator after the Pineda bout, and after that, he’s open to moving on – perhaps even to a promotion like ACB in Russia.
“From what I’m hearing, they want to keep me busy, so they said, ‘You’ll have one more fight this year,’” Karakhanyan said. “After that, we’ll see if I stay there or – the Russians are paying real good money, so maybe we’ll just travel there.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.