In search of the right path to mixed-martial-arts stardom, the journeys of Sevak Magakian and Karen Darabedyan have taken them to the country's heartland.
On Saturday night at the O'Reilly Family Event Center in Springfield, Mo., the Glendale fighters will take an important step when they venture inside the cage at ShoFight MMA 20.
For Magakian (10-3), who faces off with Strikeforce and Bellator veteran JP Reese (6-2), a former University of Missouri wrestling standout, in a lightweight contest upon the main card, it will be a hopeful last step — provided a victory is to be had — before venturing into the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"I have to win this fight," Magakian said. "I don't want it to go to the judges' decision. It's his hometown, so I want to finish him."
And for Darabedyan (9-4), once a burgeoning star in the ranks of World Extreme Cagefighting, it is the hopeful genesis of a comeback to the sport more than 20 months in the making, with last-week replacement Mike Brazzle (1-1) looking to act as a spoiler.