'Diamond' shines bright

INGLEWOOD – In a split second, Edmond “The Diamond” Tarverdyan delivered devastation and announced his presence to the mixed-martial-arts world with authority.

A former champion muay Thai kickboxer who has made his name as a trainer and proprietor of the Glendale Fighting Club navigating the striking careers of prominent MMA fighters and boxers, Tarverdyan used a fortuitous knee to knock out Phil Nunez in the first round of the “Chaos at the Casino” main event Saturday night at the Hollywood Park and Casino in the first round of the former’s MMA debut.

“I just wanted to be patient, sucker him into a shot,” said Tarverdyan, who delivered a fight-ending knee to Nunez at the 2:18 mark of his first MMA bout.

Tarverdyan’s triumph was one of a cavalcade for local fighters on the night, as Roman Mitichyan, Sako Chivitchian, Vito Gasparyan and Alfred Khashakyan thrilled the partisan crowd with victories.

“[I was] confident, but not underestimating,” said Mitichyan, whose MMA bout against William Sriyapai ended the card and was billed as the featured event, concluding in just 52 seconds as the Glendale resident coaxed a tapout via straight leg lock.

Chivitchian, fighting for the first time since an Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in December of 2010 was followed by significant neck and knee injuries, earned a hard-fought split decision over Preston Scharf.

Gasparyan, a former Glendale resident who currently lives in Burbank, also made a return to boxing after a lengthy layoff and easily dispatched the overmatched Sergio De La Torre with a second-round knockout.

Glendale’s Khashakyan, reportedly competing in his final amateur muay Thai bout before turning professional, ended opponent Victor Joval’s night with a second-round stoppage, as well.

Restless after a lengthy intermission followed by myriad in-ring speeches, the heavily Armenian crowd was revved and ready for Tarverdyan from the moment “Eye of the Tiger” accompanied him to the ring. The crowd chanted “Ed-Mund” throughout much of the bout, and following the sudden and spectacular KO, it euphorically erupted. Tarverdyan turned to the crowd, raised both arms to briefly quiet them before landing a mid-ring back flip that sent the fans into a delirium once again.

Showcasing a cerebral and methodical approach throughout his fight, the back flip was an acrobatic impulse Tarverdyan said he didn’t plan. As for the bout, Tarverdyan (1-0), who came in at a toned 155 pounds for the bout, came out in a crouched, orthodox stance with his hands wide apart.

He picked his shots and switched to south paw and back to orthodox and landed single punches and kicks, taking the center of the ring while Nunez was noticeably wary of engaging. Nunez notched a takedown, but Tarverdyan said he slipped, which was evidenced as the Glendale High graduate immediately threw Nunez to the side and sprang to his feet.

Undefeated and top-ranked pro boxer Vanes Martirosyan, who’s been trained a great deal of late by Tarverdyan, was in his coach’s corner and yelling that the uppercut was open throughout.

“Vanes was saying uppercut, uppercut,” Tarverdyan said.

Instead of an uppercut up the middle, though, Tarverdyan went with a knee, as Nunez dipped down and went for an overhand right.

“I just took a step forward,” said Tarverdyan, who promptly and perfectly delivered a knee to Nunez’ chin, sending him flat on his back. “It’s precise timing.”

After the bout, Tarverdyan was joined by many of the fighters he’s trained, who also cornered him, along with some of his young students.

Weighing his future, he said: “I fight for them, to make them happy and to teach them. … I think I’m a great teacher and I think that I love that as much as fighting.”

He concluded that he plans on juggling his own fighting career with that of his trainees, returning to fight in the hopes that he can quickly ascend into the ranks of the UFC.

“It might take a little bit away from [being a trainer],” Tarverdyan said. “We’ll see. I’ll have a few more fights and see if it happens.”

Chivitchian’s last bout had been a close decision loss to Kyle Watson in the UFC . He made his return with a close split decision win over Scharf (12-13), winning on two scorecards, 29-28, and losing on another by the same tally. The Glendale News-Press scored it 29-28 for Chivitchian (6-1), giving him the first two rounds.

“I knew it was gonna be a little bit close,” Chivitchian said of the decision in a postfight in-ring interview. “Preston, he’s a tough guy.”

Chivitchian showed a varied striking offense throughout, using a barrage of right and left hooks, leg kicks and some high kicks, landing a big right and a Superman punch with his right in the first round, which also saw him initiating a lot of clinches. In the second, Scharf notched a takedown, but Chivitichian quickly stood and Scharf also took his back, but it was nullified by a standup from the ref after no action. Chivitchian landed a solid right cross after the standup and began with a flurry of rights and lefts and
later would get Scharf’s back as the round ended. In the third, Scharf had Chivitchian’s back for most of the stanza, trying to work in a rear-naked choke while also hitting Chivitchian with punches and opening up a cut across the bridge of his nose.  

“I haven’t fought for [more than] a year, it feels  good to be back,” he said. “If I stay healthy, it’s gonna be every two months [that I fight]. I’m still growing in my career. I came off “The Ultimate Fighter,” got injured, thank God I’m back.”

Mitichyan (12-3), a Sambo and judo specialist who was also a former “The Ultimate Fighter” contestant and a two-time UFC veteran, wasted no time in taking muay Thai practioner Sriyapai (12-7) to the ground, shooting in after eating a leg kick. With top position, Mitichyan dropped down some solid right hands onto Sriyapai’s head before dropping down for a leg lock and securing the eventual tapout.

“[I knew I was] gonna take him down, he knew it wasn’t going anywhere,” said Mitichyan, who submitted Dorian Price in his UFC debut in 2007 in just 23 seconds.

In boxing action, Gasparyan (14-2-5, eight knockouts) returned from a year-long layoff to dismantle De La Torre (11-17-3, one KO) for his third consecutive win. Gasparyan knocked down De La Torre twice in the opening round and then, just 13 seconds into the second frame, ended the fight with a right uppercut.

Fighting in the second bout of the night, Khashakyan was the first local to take the ring and impressed the hometown crowd that had descended upon Inglewood. Khashakyan improved to 9-1 in his amateur career, walking down Joval and using a steady stream of punches in the opening round before landing a pinpoint right high kick en route to easily taking the first round.

“I just wanted to go in there and give everything I had,” Khashakyan said. “I felt stronger than him, so I just wanted to overpower him.”

In the second round, Khashakyan staggered Joval up against the ropes to the point that the referee administered a standing-eight count. Joval survived, but only briefly, as Khaskhakyan went in for the kill and leveled his opponent with a right hook that led to Joval falling across the second rope, stopping the bout 42 seconds into the second round.

“Once I had him wobbled, that’s it,” Khashakyan said, “I smelled blood.”

In other MMA action, Ara Muradyan (3-1) earned a close unanimous decision win against Octavio Morales (5-6). Chris Bradley (2-1) defeated Bobby Sanchez (12-19) via second-round guillotine and the iron-chinned Eddie Mendez (7-0-1) outslugged Fabio Negao (11-6) en route to an unanimous decision with two 30-27 scores and one 30-26 tally. MMA notable Georgi Karakhanyan (1-0) won his pro boxing debut with a unanimous decision over Tatsuro Ire (0-3). Glendale-trained Ando Janoyan was knocked out just 30 seconds into his muay Thai amateur bout with Daniel Hwang and Sergey Martirosyan began the evening with an amateur muay Thai win in his debut via decision over Bogdan Gretchka.

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