GLENDALE — When 2009 ended, Karen Darabedyan's stock was rising as a burgeoning lightweight in the world of mixed martial arts.
But since his World Extreme Cagefighting debut saw him defeat former company kingpin Rob McCullough in November of last year, Darabedyan has fallen upon a stunning two-fight losing streak for which he arrives at Saturday's Shark Fights 13 pay-per-view card in dire need of a victory and a change in momentum.
"It's very important," Darabedyan says of getting a win over Daniel Straus in Saturday's lightweight matchup as part of the 10-fight card emanating from the Amarillo Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. "I have to win this just for my sake, just to get my confidence back."
The always-candid Darabedyan (9-3) doesn't shy away from admitting that a first-round submission loss to Bart Palaszewski in March and a June loss to Mark Kerr via the same predicament have made the year a forgettable one.
"It's been a crazy road," said Darabedyan, who previously fought a bout under the Shark Fights banner in September of 2009, defeating Estevan Payan before beginning his run with the WEC. "These last six months haven't gone as planned. I need this win just to be happy, just to get my confidence back."
Not exactly aiding matters was the fact that Straus (12-3) was a late replacement for Darabedyan's original opponent, Marcus Hicks, as Darabedyan found out he would be fighting a new opponent roughly two weeks out.
"Well, you're training for one guy and then you have to adjust to new personnel," Darabedyan said. "But a fight's a fight, so I'm OK with it."
Darabedyan, a Glendale resident, doesn't know much about Straus other than he comes from a wrestling background, which is evident in the few clips available on the internet of some of his past fights.
"He likes to take you down and lay on you," said Darabedyan of Straus, who's won six fights by decision, three by knockout and three by submission, though all three submission wins have been tapouts via punches. "I think that's his game."
Straus, who's fought all 15 of his career fights in under two years' time, also poses the problem of being a southpaw, as Darabedyan's never fought a left-handed fighter in MMA competition, he said.
Darabedyan is expecting Straus to come out looking for the takedown and said he's comfortable on the ground working his submission game or might even try and turn the tables and take down the Ohio-based fighter. But his game plan going in is to keep the fight standing and work his striking game.
"I'd love to keep it standing and pick him apart," Darabedyan said.
Darabedyan, whose fight will be streamed live on sherdog.com at 5 p.m. PDT before the pay-per-view broadcast begins, flew out to Texas on Wednesday and, as of late Thursday night, was right on track with his weight cut, as fighters weigh in today.
"I feel really good," said Darabedyan, who will be cornered by his manager Darin Harvey, Glendale Fighting Club trainer Edmond Tarverdyan and Team Hayastan's Gokor Chivichyan, his longtime head coach. "I feel like I can push the pace."
But above pushing the pace, fighting impressively and all else, winning is the goal at hand, as Darabedyan tries to get his crazy road back on track.