Art “Lionheart” Hovhannisyan is aiming to get his boxing career back on the right track.
Marina Shafir, “The Supernova from Moldova,” is beginning a professional mixed martial arts career many believe is destined for super stardom.
Shafir and Hovhannisyan will headline a night that will see veterans, burgeoning stars, muay Thai kickboxers, MMA fighters, boxers, combatants from local gyms Main Event Sports Club in Glendale and the Glendale Fighting Club descend upon the Hollywood Park Casino on Saturday night for Lights Out Promotions’ Chaos at the Casino 4.
Hovhannisyan (16-1, nine knockouts) will fight in an eight-round boxing main event against Miguel Zuniga (12-4, seven KOs), while Shafir will make her pro debut in three-round MMA action against Chandra Engel (0-1).
“This is the best Chaos show out of all four to date,” said Lights Out promoter George Bastrmajyan, of a card that boasts 16 total fights – 12 MMA, two boxing and two muay Thai. “People are in for a treat. Lots of celebs will be in the house and I have been getting nonstop emails asking me for [media] credentials.”
Much of that attention is likely in regards to the debuting Shafir, who’s drawn plenty of hype and expectation during a perfect amateur career that’s seen her build a 5-0 record with the quintet of victories all coming via first-round submission (four via armbar and one by way of side-choke).
Due to her reputation, it wasn’t an easy task to find an opponent for Shafir in her 145-pound featherweight fight, as a fighter wasn’t procured until Tuesday.
“I was never worried about it; I was calm,” Shafir said. “It’s something I’m gonna have to get used to for a little bit.”
Shafir made her intentions of going pro known following her latest amateur win on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles.
“I’m so ready. Just calm; ready to do what I do,” said Shafir, who was an assistant coach for Team Rousey on the 18th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” “My game plan is always ninja – just be ready; always be ready for anything. Then you create situations that are always good for you.”
As for Engel, Shafir is far from familiar with her and hardly concerned about it.
“I don’t know anything about her. I don’t think that’s important,” Shafir said Thursday. “I know she’s gonna need to know more about me than anything.”
Engel, 24, lost her only pro MMA fight in August of 2012 via first-round triangle choke submission. The fight was contested at 135 pounds and came following a 9-7 run as an amateur.
For Shafir, no matter the opponent put in front of her, Saturday marks what she hopes will be the genesis of a successful professional career she’s been building up to since her amateur debut in May of 2012.
“Not so much nervous, just anxious and hungry – and that’s not just cause I’m cutting weight,” said Shafir, who will celebrate her 26th birthday two days after her debut, of her emotions. “I guess getting to this level, you realize what’s been accomplished is just a foundation for what can be accomplished. I’m just really excited about the opportunity that my fighting career holds.”
The 32-year-old Hovhannisyan will fight for the second time since his first career loss in February of 2013. With a reputation as an exciting, action fighter, the Glendale Fighting Club’s longest tenured fighter is looking to get back into the limelight and the title picture in the super featherweight division.
“It’s very important for Art,” said GFC trainer Edmond Tarverdyan of the bout. “He needs to look impressive; he needs to look dominant.
“Art’s had one loss and he shouldn’t have his confidence drop. He’s a young 32. … He says he feels stronger and quicker.”
In Zuniga, Hovhannisyan battles a foe who has just one win over an opponent with a winning record and whose four defeats, including three in a row coming into Saturday, have been when he’s stepped up against solid competition.
The real star on Saturday might well be Tarverdyan.
Tarverdyan, a former champion muay Thai kickboxer who has a 2-0 MMA record with both fights coming at Chaos at the Casino events, will corner six fighters, including Hovhannisyan and Shafir, on the night across all three combat sports.
“Saturday is gonna be very crazy,” said Tarverdyan, whose fighting stable includes the likes of Rousey, multi-time former world boxing champion Vic Darchinyan and UFC fighters Manny Gamburyan, Shayna Baszler and Jessamyn Duke. “If all of them perform how I want them to, it will be an easy night.
“All of them are in the best shape of their lives. We have a whole staff of coaches on top of these kids.”
In muay Thai action, Levon Sargsyan (GFC) will take on Ming Freeman and in MMA bouts, muay Thai standout Melsik Baghdsaryan (GFC) will make his MMA debut against Jay Bogan (2-4), standout grappler Vardan Sholinian (1-1) of GFC will take on Tremaine Lewis (1-1) and Alfred Khashakian (1-1) of GFC will face the debuting Cameron Harris to round out Tarverdyan’s night of fights.
“Not hard; I’ve been doing this long enough,” Tarverdyan said of cornering three different combat sports in one night. “I have experience in all of them. A fight’s a fight.”
Representing Main Event Boxing Club, Armen Bakanyan (0-2) will battle Matt Doyle (2-2) and Arsen Galstyan (1-2) of Main Event will face Danny Lockhart (2-3).
Other notable MMA bouts include Damien Marzett (2-0) taking on Selah Williams (1-1), Chris Saunders (10-6) facing Dominic Gutierrez (6-18) and Christos Giagos (7-2) toeing the line with Preston Scharf (13-14).
Doors will open at 6 p.m., with first bell scheduled for 7 p.m.
All bouts are subject to change. For more information on the event or to get tickets, visit www.teamlightsout.com.