Manny Gamburyan ready to roll at Staples Center

For roughly five years, beginning with a memorable stint on "The Ultimate Fighter," Manny Gamburyan has found a home under the Ultimate Fighting Championship umbrella.

It's included an ultra-successful campaign in the UFC's one-time sibling company, World Extreme Cagefighting, in which the Glendale-trained fighter earned a featherweight title shot.

Alas, Gamburyan's title rendezvous with champion Jose Aldo ended in defeat and was the genesis for a current three-fight losing streak. Hence, as Gamburyan prepares for battle not far from his North Hollywood home on Saturday at the Staples Center against Michihiro Omigawa on the UFC on FOX 4 undercard, he might very well be fighting to stay within the organization that he has called home since 2007.

"Every fight is a fight you have to win," Gamburyan said. "The situation, though, with how things have been going, there is more pressure."

Two straight losses often signal the end of a UFC fighter's run in the organization, thus a fourth consecutive loss for Gamburyan (11-7) could be disastrous. And the venerable Omigawa (13-11-1) is in much the same situation, as he's coming off a defeat and losses in three of his last four bouts.

Pressure and losing streaks aside, Gamburyan is anxious to get into the octagon for his 145-pound bout, which will be televised live on Fuel TV ahead of the main card airing on FOX, which will be main-evented by light-heavyweights Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Brandon Vera.

"Day by day it gets more exciting," Gamburyan said. "It's gonna mean a lot to me to get a 'W' and get back on track."

Long regarded for his judo skills and grappling prowess, Gamburyan, in large part due to his work at the Glendale Fighting Club under striking coach Edmond Tarverdyan, has grown more and more confident with his stand-up game. He believes that the power in his hands, which led him to arguably his career's biggest triumph when he knocked out Mike Thomas Brown in April of 2010, could very well be the difference in Saturday's tilt.

"I've got heavy hands," Gamburyan said. "He's got a good chin, but once I connect he's gonna go down."

Gamburyan's knockout of Brown was his third straight win at the time and led him to the title bout against Aldo. Since the championship loss to Aldo on Sept. 30, 2010, Gamburyan returned to the UFC (the company absorbed the WEC) and lost a majority decision to Tyson Griffin in June of 2011 before a unanimous decision loss to Diego Nunes on Dec. 30, 2011.

"The last two fights have not gone my way," Gamburyan said. "The Aldo fight, I lost fair and square. The fight against Tyson Griffin and then Diego Nunes, I felt I won."

Alas, another loss, whether it's by a close decision or not, is one Gamburyan, 31, can ill afford. Having fought in the UFC and WEC a combined 11 times with notable wins over the likes of Leonard Garcia, Sam Morgan and Jorge Santiago in his career, Gamburyan is a veteran to say the least, but so too is Omigawa.

The 36-year-old is in his second stint in the UFC, where he has struggled with a 1-5 record, but has made a name for himself in Japan, with stints in the PRIDE, Dream, Sengoku and Deep promotions. Along the line he's fought notables such as Aaron Riley, Gesias Cavalcante, Matt Wiman, Thiago Tavares, Chan Sung Jung and Chad Mendes and defeated standouts like LC Davis, Nam Phan, Marlon Sandro, Hatsu Hioki and Cole Escovedo. Omigawa's been stopped in just two of his losses and never by submission. He lost his last outing on Jan. 14 via unanimous decision to Iuri Alcantara.

Indeed, Omigawa's a well-rounded veteran, but still an opponent Gamburyan believes he stacks up against quite well.

"I think it's a great matchup for me," Gamburyan said. "He's a veteran, but he doesn't do well when he's under pressure. I plan on putting a lot of pressure on him."

Another aspect Gamburyan believes is in his favor is that the fight is in L.A. at the Staples Center, which isn't too far from his North Hollywood home or where he trains, whether it be GFC, Team Hayastan in Hollywood or SK Golden Boys in Van Nuys.

"It's just better for you," said Gamburyan, who will be cornered by Tarverdyan, the GFC's George Bastrmayjan and SK Golden Boys' Ando Dermendjyan. "[You're] training at your own gym, cutting weight the right way, it all makes sense."

Indeed, it might very well be a backyard brawl for Gamburyan, who's planning on claiming a victory that will ensure the UFC remains his home.

The main card airs live on FOX, beginning at 5 p.m., and features the main event — Rua versus Vera — along with another light-heavyweight title contention match with Lyoto Machida taking on Ryan Bader and a scheduled two other bouts. Gamburyan and Omigawa will be the second bout of the undercard, which airs live on Fuel TV, starting at 2 p.m. For more information, visit

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