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Glendale MMA fighters Sevak Magakian and Karen Darabedyan prepare for ShoFight

MMA: Magakian, Darabedyan off to 'Show-Me' state for important bouts Saturday night.

June 14, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

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.

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"Now, I'm against the wall," Darabedyan said. "It's a do-or-die situation. I have to go in there and make a point.

"It's not about who I'm fighting, it's about myself."

Just like Darabedyan, Magakian isn't fighting his original opponent. Originally, Magakian was set to face UFC veteran John Gunderson (33-13-2), but Gunderson is now a main event replacement who will headline the card against Karo Parisyan (20-8), a training partner of Magakian and Darabedyan's.

"I was so mad," said Magakian, who added that he learned about the change by seeing it on a website rather than receiving news personally. "I wanted that fight against Gunderson because he was a name."

Now, Magakian, who's riding a three-fight winning streak, will square off with the affable Reese in a 155-pound tilt.

"I know he's a good wrestler from Missouri," said Magakian, who arrived in Missouri on Thursday night with Darabedyan among an entourage of roughly 15. "That's all I know.

"I'm comfortable with wrestlers."

Reese's roots are in Missouri, but the 31-year-old lives and trains in Florida as a member of the highly regarded American Top Team.

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