Jewel City 'Diamond' looks to shine under lights once again

"There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Bruce Lee

A "Diamond" in the rough world of muay Thai kickboxing, Edmond Tarverdyan was once a champion.

The Glendale High graduate was a champion who had trained in martial arts since he was but 7 and started training others when he was, amazingly, only 16 and running his own gym.

Now, the 30-year-old Tarverdyan is regarded as a successful combat sports trainer and coach with a keen eye for striking and a budding stable of talent that includes the likes of undefeated boxer Vanes Martirosyan, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Manny Gamburyan and undefeated Strikeforce women's champion Ronda Rousey, among others.

But tonight, Edmond Tarverdyan the trainer and coach will take a back seat, as Edmond "The Diamond" Tarverdyan returns to combat for the first time in four years and dips his educated feet into the waters of mixed martial arts for the very first time.

"He's a great coach, a great trainer, but to be honest, he's pretty good at everything he does," George Bastmajyan says.

Bastmajyan is the man behind just about every going-on involved in tonight's "Chaos at the Casino" card at the Hollywood Park Casino, which Tarverdyan will headline in his 155-pound matchup against Phil Nunez. Bastmajyan, a cut man, corner man and former muay Thai kick boxer, is also one of Tarverdyan's closest friends, as the two are seemingly shoulder to shoulder in every venture involving the Glendale Fighting Club gym and their Lights Out Promotions.

There were myriad factors that led to Tarverdyan deciding to return to competition and debut in MMA.

Not the least of which was quite plain and simple for a man such as Tarverdyan, who's a fighter in spirit and has immersed himself in martial arts for the majority of his life.

"I really miss it," Tarverdyan admits.

In addition, Tarverdyan admits to being inspired by the likes of Rousey, who's become a sensation in the MMA community and beyond following her ascent to the top of the women's fighting world. Having caught the eye of fans, media and promoters alike, Rousey has quickly become a star thanks to her beauty, intelligence and flat out dominance in the cage. But for Tarverdyan, it's been her dedication and work ethic that has propelled him.

"She just works so hard. That girl was in [the gym] every day before me," Tarverdyan says. "Manny was the same way."

And with the likes of boxers Art Hovhannesyan and Gapo Tolmajyan, Tarverdyan is there each and every fight to see his charges fighting to make names for themselves and climb to prominence.

And with Martirosyan and Gamburyan and Rousey, Tarverdyan has been there at the biggest venues among the most prominent names.

And within Tarverdyan, a fighter's heart clearly beats, one striving to compete and win inside the cage or in the middle of the ring.

"Edmond's an amazing person that loves to challenge himself," Rousey says. "He's been running his own gym since he was 16 … I think he just wants to challenge himself."

Ultimately, it came down to Bastmajyan and Tarverdyan and a Las Vegas conversation not long after Gamburyan had lost a close decision to Diego Nunes at UFC 141. Nunes was able to narrowly outpoint Gamburyan largely based on sticking to the outside and using his kickboxing, particularly leg kicks. In large, Tarverdyan realized one last time that he could fight at that level and he could succeed. And his friend believed the very same thing, but more importantly believed he would regret never having taken his shot.

"I told him, 'Man, you're 30, you're gonna look back and think why didn't I do it,'?" Bastmajyan says.


So Tarverdyan is doing it.

He will attempt to do what many before him have done in MMA, emerging from one avenue of fighting in the hopes of building an overall game.

"That's the key for most fighters in MMA that are specialized," says Rousey, who's very much an authority on the subject.

Boasting an Olympic bronze medal in judo, Rousey's grappling and submission skills are mind-spinning and bone-breaking. Still, she has often been criticized as being a "one-trick pony." But all Rousey has to do is point to the glistening gold Strikeforce championship belt that hangs upon her slender waist.

In many ways, Tarverdyan is looking to follow suit, taking what most believe is a phenomenal striking game into mixed martial arts, while working with top-level judokas like Rousey, wrestlers such as Martin Berberyan and jiu jitsu players like Alberto Crane. By all accounts, Tarverdyan is quickly picking up what those that are training him are putting down.

"His takedown defense is comparable to Jose Aldo's — I swear to God," Rousey says.

Aldo is the 145-pound UFC champion and considered one of the top-10 best pound-for-pound fighters in the MMA world. And if Tarverdyan decides that he is going to pursue a fighting run past tonight, he has his sights set on dropping down to 145 and pursuing the best in the weight class and a shot at the UFC.

"I know I can beat [the best]," Tarverdyan says. "If I didn't, I wouldn't fight."

Those who train beside him and work with him are already confident that he has stand-up skills on par with the very best in the MMA world.

"I would rank him as an 'A'-striker," Bastmajyan says. "Anderson Silva's an 'A'-striker, Jose Aldo's an 'A'-striker, Edmond's an 'A'-striker."

And with his striking skills as a foundation, a motivated Tarverdyan may very well be taking the first step to something special.

"Edmond's a very talented guy, I have no doubts in Edmond's abilities," says Roman Mitichyan, a two-time UFC veteran who teaches alongside Tarverdyan at GFC. "The guy's been taking everything very seriously."


On Thursday afternoon, Rousey wasted little time in answering a text message with a phone call to offer comments on Tarverdyan.

Rousey's about as busy as it gets. She's speaking on behalf of the legalization of MMA in New York, making appearances on "The Ultimate Fighter," doing photo shoots with Maxim and this and that. But when thanked for her time, she quickly replies, "Anything for my trainer."

As a trainer in the world of boxing and MMA, Tarverdyan has made a name for himself over the last half-decade and he's built loyal ties with the likes of his young students that he predicts will be tomorrow's champions or boxers such as Martirosyan and mixed martial artists like Rousey, his first world champion.

But tonight, Tarverdyan won't be training or teaching or shouting instructions, he'll be taking center stage.

"I expect a lot of Glendale to be out there," Tarverdyan grins.

Upon a Cinco de Mayo evening in which Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto will likely draw a million to pay-per-view and plenty more will turn on FOX to watch the UFC, Tarverdyan will draw a very loyal and sizable fan base to watch him rather than those that he trains. Whether or not it's the start of something or simply a one-night shot at glory remains to be seen, but it really matters not tonight.

"Edmond's brilliant," Rousey says. "He's good at whatever he tries to do. I have every confidence in him."

Tonight is Tarverdyan's night to step out from the corner. Tonight is the "Diamond's" night to shine.

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