Just In Georgi Karakhanyan: A.J. McKee and I can be ‘homies and friends’ … after I knock him out MMA Life

Check out the latest breaking UFC NEWS


LOS ANGELES – Georgi Karakhanyan is looking to make a statement in his opening-round fight of the Bellator featherweight grand prix on Saturday.

Karakhanyan (28-9-1 MMA, 6-7 BMMA) has one of the more compelling matchups to kick off the tournament when he faces undefeated rising star A.J. McKee (14-0 MMA, 14-0 BMMA) on the main card of Bellator 228 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

From the time the matchup was announced, Karakhanyan has promised an all-action affair with McKee. He puts the onus on himself to make that happen, though. Just days out from fight night, he’s doubling down.

“I want to go out there and make a statement and knock him out and knock him out pretty bad,” Karakhanyan told MMA Junkie on Thursday at Bellator 228 media day. “Then after we can be homies and friends.”

Karakhanyan, 34, said he’s feeling at his absolute best going into the matchup. He admitted there were some rough patches during training camp, but the guidance of veterans such as former UFC champion T.J. Dillashaw and Cub Swanson was uplifting.

“It makes a big difference having that experience,” Karakhanyan said. “Especially T.J., he’s been a good role model for us. And also Cub Swanson, he’s been helping a lot. Overall it’s been a great camp.”

Although the matchup with McKee is significant on its own, the fight also plays into the grander scheme of the 16-man tournament, which will see the winner leave with Bellator’s 145-pound belt, a special grand prix title and a $ 1 million prize.

The format makes it easy for fighters to fall into the trap of looking ahead at the next step, but Karakhanyan said he won’t fall for that. He knows any speculation about what could happen in the quarterfinal drawings is rendered meaningless until he wins at Bellator 228.

“All my focus is on A.J.,” Karakhanyan said. “I just take it one fight at a time.”

News | MMA Junkie
MMA Life