Georgi Karakhanyan goes for WSOF gold on Saturday. | Taro Irei/Sherdog.com
Georgi Karakhanyan has never been one to play it safe.
The two-time Bellator tournament veteran has gone the distance in less than one third of his 26 pro outings and rides an eight-fight winning streak into his sophomore appearance for World Series of Fighting.
On Saturday, “Insane” will look to maintain his momentum when he meets unbeaten prospect Lance Palmer for the vacant WSOF featherweight title in the WSOF 7 headliner. The event airs live on NBC Sports Network from PNE Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia, and marks the Las Vegas-based organization’s Canadian debut.
“I know Palmer comes from a good wrestling background and trains with a good team, but at the end of the day, it’s an MMA fight, and so once that door is locked, it doesn’t matter,” Karakhanyan said during Tuesday’s media conference call. “It’s not a wrestling match. I don’t mind getting punched in the face, and I don't mind punching him back. I’m just looking to go out there and put on an exciting fight for the Canadian fans, and I’m going for a finish.”
Karakhanyan was originally slated to face Rick Glenn for the vacant title, but Glenn withdrew from their matchup last month. WSOF officials called upon Team Alpha Male’s Palmer, the reigning Resurrection Fighting Alliance titleholder, to face Karakhanyan in the main event after Mike Kyle’s broken toe scrapped his planned light heavyweight headliner opposite Anthony Johnson.
Karakhanyan, 28, has enjoyed arguably the most productive stretch of his career since receiving his Bellator release, finishing five of his eight victims and winning the Tachi Palace Fights featherweight belt in the process. The Russian-born fighter most recently competed on Sept. 14, choking out UFC veteran Waylon Lowe with a first-round guillotine choke at WSOF 5.
“I think I’ve just learned how to win fights and how to break my opponents. I used to go into a fight and try to finish right away, and if I didn’t, then I would get discouraged,” said Karakhanyan. “I’ve learned from it. I’m in the gym every day unless I’m over-trained or sick. I’m always trying to learn [more] and work on my weaknesses. I’m just learning how to perform under the bright lights once that door locks and all the people are watching."
A four-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Ohio State, Palmer made his MMA debut in 2011 and is considered one of the best featherweight prospects in the sport. For “The Party,” who remains undefeated through seven pro outings, Karakhanyan likely poses the biggest threat of his young career.
While Palmer’s process in securing a WSOF title berth has been unconventional, the featherweight said he is nevertheless well-prepared for his Saturday showdown with Karakhanyan.
“It has been a pretty crazy month. Everything has happened pretty quickly with the signing and the world title fight,” said Palmer. “I was in between contracts with another promotion, and I had a good couple of calls with the WSOF guys. Things just progressed from there. Rick Glenn had to pull out of his fight, and they gave me the opportunity to step in on four weeks’ notice. It’s been an exciting and fun process so far.”