McCullough’s original opponent was Anthony Pettis, but he was forced to withdraw due to an injury, which opened the door for Darabedyan. It was an opportunity too good to pass on for Darabedyan despite the short notice and the caliber of opponent. It was a chance to fight for the WEC, which is owned by Zuffa, LLC, which also owns the UFC, on a televised card.
“It’s a huge opportunity, a lot of times it takes guys three or four fights to get on the televised portion of the card,” said WEC General Manager Reed Harris.
The one glaring difference between the fighters is the aforementioned experience factor.
McCullough has won nine fights by knockout, which is as many fights as Darabedyan has fought period. And, while the big stage is nothing new for McCullough, Darabedyan is admittedly nervous about this fight, but he’s nervous for everyone of his fights, he said. Nonetheless, it’s clearly a huge intangible leading up to the bout.
“Rob’s mentally tough,” Harris said. “I think that’s the challenge for Karen is can he be mentally tough. He’s got the skills, but Rob’s got a lot of experience in that cage.”
Added McCullough in an interview with www.wec.tv: “I definitely say being the veteran of it gives me a little bit of an advantage. I think due to the fact he’s never fought in a big show, he’s gonna have a little bit of the big-show jitters. ...I’ve seen him fight, he’s a tough guy, so I’m planning on a really good matchup.”