Neither is standing center stage and competing.
But when the roles are intertwined and come crashing to a head, things can get a little chaotic. Perhaps that’s the theme for Saturday night’s Lights Out Promotions “Chaos at the Casino 2” hybrid fighting event, which will feature a mix of muay Thai kickboxing, boxing and mixed martial arts, with Glendale’s Crane and Tarverdyan set to compete against Daniel McWilliams and Dominic Gutierrez, respectively, as headliners of the card emanating from Hollywood Park and Casino.
“I just look at it as excitement. I’m definitely coaching a lot more than fighting lately,” said Crane, who lives in Glendale and runs Burbank Gracie Barra. “We’re all kind of excited for each other.”
Crane prodigies Damian Marzett and Rob Gooch will also be fighting on the card in MMA bouts, while Tarverdyan’s longtime trainee Gapo Tolmajyan will be boxing.
“I’ve been doing a better job of it,” said Tarverdyan of balancing his own training at the Glendale Fighting Club with preparing his charges, which include Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, UFC featherweight Manny Gamburyan and rising boxers Art Hovhannisyan and Tolmajyan. “It was tougher [the first time]. Now, I worked out my hours better.”
Tarverdyan (1-0), a former muay Thai kickboxer and well-regarded striking coach, made his MMA debut at the first Chaos event May 5 and won via a first-round knockout. This time around, he’s going for another knockout against journeyman Gutierrez (4-14), who’s never been knocked out, in their 155-pound lightweight bout.
“I’m gonna change that,” Tarverdyan said. “I love to fight people like that, I like a challenge.”
Tarverdyan is set to be cornered by Rousey, Gamburyan and Andy Dermenjyan, his wrestling coach.
“For this fight I’ve got a great corner,” Tarverdyan, 31, said.
Rousey recently had her first UFC title bout against Liz Carmouche on Feb. 23 announced, while Gamburyan’s fight against Chad Mendes the same night was announced Wednesday. Hence, Tarverdyan, described by Rousey as “the most unselfish person” when it comes to balancing himself and preparing his fighters, had already begun breaking down his charges’ bouts.
“I started thinking about [Rousey’s] fight more, that’s when I really started figuring out I take training them [as more important] than myself. ... Then we found out Manny’s fighting Mendes, so I started watching stuff on him. I’ve been spending more time on them.”
Still, when Saturday night comes, Tarverdyan assures he’ll be plenty prepared to deliver.
“For my fight, I’m ready,” he said.
Tarverdyan also cornered Jared Papazian, along with the latter’s lead trainer, Crane, on Dec. 15 during the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.” So, these have been busy days for both.
Crane, 36, has been busy building up his Gracie Barra Burbank studio and hasn’t fought since July of 2011, when he won his third consecutive fight. For a 20-fight veteran whose Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt résumé reads as one of the finest in MMA, there’s still an itch to fight, though.
“It’s something I’ve done my entire adult life. I get that urge to get out there and do it,” said Crane, who is a two-fight UFC veteran during a time in which Tarverdyan also aided in his training. “I have dreams of fighting in the UFC again, so you never know. I just have to take care of Saturday and move forward.”
And Crane, who’s won 14 bouts by submission, including his last three, is quite confident he’ll take care of Saturday and McWilliams (10-22) in their 175-pound bout.
“It’s gonna be the same story. If he’s smart, he won’t want to grapple with me,” Crane said. “It’s just a matter of me doing what I want to do.”
Marzett, a former football player for the University of California, will make his MMA debut against Gabe Lopez (1-1) in a 185-pound middleweight bout, while Gooch (2-1) will take on fellow featherweight Max Cisneros.
Tolmajyan (12-2-1, two knockouts), coming off a close unanimous decision loss to the undefeated Abraham Lopez in March on ESPN2, will take on Sandoval (7-10, four KO) as the former looks to get back into the big time.
Finally, ballyhooed muay Thai knockout artist Alfred Khashakian, out of Glendale, will make his MMA debut against Mike Kabuska.
Doors are set to open at 6 p.m. with first bell scheduled for 7.
For information and tickets, visit www.teamlightsout.com.