GLENDALE — Just 22 years old, Karen Darabedyan’s fast-rising mixed martial arts career has taken its most monumental turn yet.
Live and in living color, the Glendale fighter will make his World Extreme Cagefighting debut Nov. 18 at WEC 44 in Las Vegas when he takes on former lightweight champion “Razor” Rob McCullough as part of the live broadcast airing on Versus. The announcement came as Darabedyan agreed to a reported five-fight contract with the organization on Tuesday.
“I think just about everything,” said Darabedyan of the emotions he was experiencing. “I’m really excited, I’m nervous.
“Finally, all these years and I get on a big show, it’s on TV, everybody will be watching.”
Darabedyan made his mixed martial arts debut in July of 2006 and has built an 8-1 record. He’ll now debut for the WEC, which is owned by Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“This is a huge step up,” said Darin Harvey, Darabedyan’s manager. “It’s from the small time to the big time.”
Talks between Harvey and the WEC had been going on for roughly a month and, originally, plans were thrown around for Darabedyan to fight in December for the company. However, McCullough’s original opponent, Anthony Pettis, withdrew from the fight due to an injury and the opportunity was given to Darabedyan.
“That’s why I tell my athletes to be ready at any time,” Harvey said.
Despite a bit of short notice and the caliber of opponent, Darabedyan didn’t hesitate when offered the chance.
“Fighting Rob, being on the main card, I said why not,” Darabedyan said.
McCullough (17-5) is likely to be the most formidable and certainly the most well-known opponent Darabedyan has faced. The 32-year-old, who has trained with Tito Ortiz as a member of Team Punishment and is married to adult film actress Lexxi Tyler, is a former WEC lightweight (155 pounds) champion.
In direct contrast, Darabedyan is far from well-known, at least not yet, anyhow.
“He’s absolutely on his way,” Harvey said. “He’s the best 155-pounder in the world nobody’s heard of. ...Win or lose, his name will be on the map.”
And Darabedyan’s hoping that his unknown status may very well help him get the win as McCullough is likely unfamiliar with Darabedyan’s game and will be hard-pressed to find footage of his fights.
Upon hearing the news Tuesday, Darabedyan was back training hard for the fight on Wednesday.
“I don’t have too much time [to train], but I think I have just enough time,” he said. “It’s not the best, but I have to do what I have to do.
“I have a pretty tough fight on my hands, but every time I’m pushed, I push a little bit harder.”