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Guns blazing, UFC fighter Jared Papazian takes his shot

Burbank-trained UFC fighter has changed a lot, but his fighting heart has never waned

June 02, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

Having been in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and beyond to the tune of 20 mixed-martial-arts bouts in addition to far too many jiu jitsu competitions to number, Alberto Crane still comes off as very much a calm and cool customer, with an easy, soft-spoken and mild-mannered personality.

That's when he's not cornering Jared "The Jackhammer" Papazian, though.

"Jared doesn't make it easy," says Glendale's Crane, who trains Papazian at Gracie Barra Burbank. "He's always fight of the night, whether it's a small show or the [Ultimate Fighting Championship]."

On the roller-coaster ride that's been his rise to the UFC stage, one would be hard-pressed to find a bout that's been easy for Papazian, that wasn't nailbiting for his corner and, perhaps most importantly, wasn't thrilling for those in the seats around the cage.

"He's an extremely entertaining fighter," says Papazian's manager and cornerman Darin Harvey. "He never makes it easy on us. You never know what's gonna happen."

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Nobody's sure just exactly what's going to happen when Papazian (14-7) enters the octagon on Friday to face off with Dustin Pague (10-5) live on Fuel TV as part of the UFC on FX 3 live preliminary card at the Bank Atlantic Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But Papazian does offer up at least one assurance.

"As long as he comes in bangin', I'll come in bangin' and I know we'll have another fight of the night," he says.

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As a trip to Florida and a second fight under the bright UFC lights draws near, the only fight and the only fighter Jared Papazian is looking for is Dustin Pague. Indeed, much has changed since a scrap with 10 guys fortuitously began his MMA days.

"I got jumped by 10 guys," says Papazian, an El Camino Real High product who still makes the trek from West Hills to Burbank everyday. "I started training at 17 years old, just to learn to fight, not to get into it, but it became a passion."

It was a passion that quickly became a professional career, but one seemingly on the fast track to being that of a journeyman. On the regional Southern California circuit, Papazian was quickly thrown into fights in which he was overmatched, he never fought for a promotion more than once and he was developing a reputation as a guy who talked a lot of trash.

"I had a manager that didn't care. I had a manager that just took money," Papazian says. "I didn't really have a home gym or anything."

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