Jared Papazian drops third straight in octagon

LAS VEGAS – Ahead of his third fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Jared Papazian knew his job was likely on the line after falling in his first two appearances inside the octagon.

And Papazian fought tenaciously as if his job depended on it, but it was far from enough, as Tim Elliott spoiled the Burbank-trained fighter’s 125-pound debut – and likely his stay in the UFC – with a dominant unanimous decision win Saturday afternoon at “The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale” in Las Vegas at The Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

The fight, which led off the 12-bout card and streamed live on Facebook, saw Elliott (9-3-1) win by scores of 30-25 twice and 30-26. Two judges scored the final round 10-8 for Elliott, while all three scored it the same in the first round when Papazian (14-9) was penalized for an illegal knee to Elliott’s head when he was down. The bout was also the UFC Fight of the Night, as announced by UFC President Dana White at the post-event press conference, with both Papazian and Elliott awarded $40,000.

"Elliott fought a good fight and was the better man tonight," said Alberto Crane, Papazian's lead trainer at Burbank Gracie Barra. "Jared has a heart of a lion and will continue to improve and will be back."

While the scores reflected an easy night for Elliott, it certainly wasn’t, as the fight – like many of Papazian’s recent bouts have been – was action-packed with the latter having his moments, as well.  That didn’t soften any bad blood on Elliott’s end, though.

“Fight was super tough,” Elliott said. “I hit him with hard shots and he rocked me more than once in that one.

“All the guys at 125 pounds are good guys and deserve to be here except for the one I just fought. Hopefully he’ll get his walking papers today.”

Papazian, who was introduced as fighting out of Burbank where he trains primarily, landed what was likely the bout’s most telling blow when he kneed Elliott in the head. Elliott was falling backward at the time and it appeared that his butt hit the mat simultaneously with Papazian connecting with the knee. It was ruled that Elliott was down and therefore illegal, though, and Elliott was wobbled badly. With many in the press believing the fight would be stopped, after a doctor’s consultation and a delay for Elliott to recover, it was allowed to go on. Not long after the action commenced and Papazian had a point deducted, he was floored by a right hand. Elliott, who had attempted a guillotine on two occasions early in the first, followed with top control on the ground and began a barrage of savage ground and pound with hammer fists and elbows.

“That was the tightest guillotine I’ve ever had and somehow he was able to get out of it,” Elliott said.

Elliott, who had notched a pair of takedowns off single-legs in the opening round, landed two more takedowns in the second round before landing on a head kick-punch combo, as Papazian was bloodied from the lip. Elliott would land another brief takedown before the round expired, but Papazian landed his share of kicks and punches – usually straights and uppercuts. However, every time Papazian came on, Elliott answered and appeared to be the fresher fighter.

The third round saw Elliott land another takedown, but Papazian reversed to get on top. After the ref stood them up, the two traded in the center of the octagon with Papazian nodding in approval. A straight left by for the southpaw Elliott, which worked well much of the fight, dropped Papazian shortly after. From there, Elliott took control, working effective ground and pound from the top before Papazian rolled through and Elliott took his back. Elliott would work more punches from the back, while trying to slip in a rear-naked choke. Papazian fought it off valiantly and eventually worked back to his feet. It wasn’t for long, though, as an Elliott double-leg took Papazian back down and took his back again, where the round would end with Elliott pushing himself up off his opponent. It was a move Papazian took exception to, walking toward Elliott, who had some harsh trash talk leading up to the fight, before the ref pushed them apart.

"The plan was to keep it standing and defend takedowns and get up when he did [get taken down]," Crane said. "He basically stayed too long in the pocket after his punches and in the process gave up the takedown openings. Elliott did a good job emposing his takedowns and finishing them because of that. Jared did a great job defending Elliott's subs, but waited too long to get back up to his feet."

All three of Papazian’s UFC losses have come in 2012, the previous two in the bantamweight (135 pounds) division before moving down to the flyweight class.

Along with Crane, who resides in Glendale, there were other locals in attendance, as Papazian was also cornered by Glendale’s Edmond Tarverdyan, who also trains UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and UFC featherweight Manny Gamburyan at the Glendale Fighting Club. Both were also on hand.

Adding to the bad night for Papazian, his left hand was cut open after fight when a paramedic was cutting off his hand wraps. The cut required 10 stitches, Crane said.

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