Jared Papazian fighting for UFC job

As it is with just about any fight inside the confines of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's octagon, Jared Papazian's flyweight bout against Tim Elliott features its share of story lines, subplots and stipulations.

There's also some smack talk and hype.

It's Papazian's 125-pound debut and Elliott's chance to rebound after a loss to a world-ranked contender. And a victory by Papazian, which would be his first in the UFC, would likely make him an immediate player in the 125-pound division.

But for Papazian, at the root of it all, it's pretty plain, simple and pivotal as it relates to his career.

"My whole job right now is to save my job," said Papazian, who trains primarily at Burbank Gracie Barra under former UFC fighter and Glendale resident Alberto Crane. "I don't care how I do it as long as it's exciting and I get the win.

"If I lose, I know I'm getting my walking papers."

Papazian (14-8) will take on Elliott (8-3-1) to lead off Saturday's "The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale" card live from the The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. The three-round flyweight bout will be the first of a scheduled 12-fight card and will stream live on Facebook with a start of 2:45 p.m. The main card, beginning at 6 p.m., will air live on FX and feature heavyweights Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione squaring off in the main event.

"I think it's gonna be a great fight," Papazian said. "I think that's why they put us together. They know that we're both gonna bring it."

Exciting or not, though, Papazian's well aware that he needs a win to stay in the UFC. Riding a two-fight losing streak that began with a hotly-contested decision loss to Mike Easton in his January UFC debut and followed by a submission loss to Dustin Pague in June that had some controversy do to the referee's reprimand of Papazian using his feet on the cage, Papazian faces a well-rounded opponent.

"He's very well-rounded," Papazian, 24, said. "He's wild, he's exciting."

Elliott owns three knockout victories and four submission wins and also comes in brimming with confidence.

"I saw some YouTube video or whatever that he did, saying all 125-pounders were too polite and he's gonna bring some noise to the division, some stupid [expletive] like that," Elliott said. "I feel like the UFC is kind of giving me a gift having me fight Papazian."

Elliott, 25, is coming off a decision loss in his UFC debut in May against John Dodson, who will be the first to challenge first-ever UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson for the title. Hence, despite coming off a loss, Elliott said he's got his fair share of momentum.

"I believe that I've already fought the best 125er in the world," said Elliott, who had previously won eight consecutive bouts. "So everything after that is just building my confidence."

Previous to his two-fight skid, Papazian had won three straight contests and eight of his last nine.

Now, with his job on the line, he ventures into the new territory that is the 125-pound division — the newest for the UFC in the men's ranks. Elliott also believes he has an advantage there, saying he could make 115 without trouble.

Papazian, who's fought as high as 185 as an amateur and as high as 155 professionally, made a test-weight cut earlier in the year and it went without a hitch. In his preparation for the weight class and Elliott, he's also been working on his quickness and reflexes in Westlake at Woody Clifford's Sportswest Performance. In addition, he's been working his striking with Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club and on his takedown defense with UFC fighter Manny Gamburyan, among others.

Papazian predicts Elliott will look to take the fight to the ground, while the former's game plan is always to stand up and bang.

"I know he's gonna want to take me down," Papazian said. "I feel like when I hit him, he's gonna want to take me down."

Nevertheless, Papazian always predicts an exciting fight and believes that's likely the biggest reason he's getting a third bout in the UFC after two losses.

Elliott also agrees it will be an exciting fight, but has a slightly different take.

"I'm gonna make it exciting," said Elliott, who predicted a fight of the night or knockout of the night. "I feel he's pretty one dimensional. I don't think he's really that exciting, I think people just bring the fight to him.

"I don't plan on getting hit too much. I plan on making it a one-sided slugfest."

And so there's some smack talk, some subplots and the promise of both fighters that the bout that leads off Saturday's card is the one to steal the show.

Said Papazian: "I put on exciting fights and that's what [the UFC] likes."

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World