The former Its Showtime champion Sahak Parparyan (40-9-5, 19 KO’s) is one of four fighters taking part in the GLORY Middleweight Contender Tournament this Saturday March 8.
Whoever wins the tournament, which forms part of the GLORY 14 ZAGREB main card, will earn themselves a spot in the World Championship Tournament later this year, with the World Middleweight Title on the line.
“Jason is the most dangerous of the three because he has a lot of heart, he is a real fighter. He likes to fight,” says Parparyan, who already holds a stoppage win over Wilnis.
“We had a fight in 2012 and it was a nice fight - for me anyway, maybe not for him, ha! So I hope this fight goes the same way as that one.
“The other two guys I don’t really know, I only looked at some of their fights. I think Jacoby looks OK, I saw his fight with Danyo Ilunga and he did OK. He fought in the UFC but I don’t think he is the same level as me or Jason as a kickboxer.
“And the same for Pereira. I was supposed to fight him in 2012 for my Its Showtime world title but I couldn’t get the visa for Brazil in time so Wilnis fought him instead, and he beat him up and won by KO.”
Parparyan fights out of Mike’s Gym in Amsterdam. The team’s membership is vast and contains numerous top names, including Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, Murthel Groenhart, Artur Kyshenko and Melvin Manhoef.
“I came to Mike’s Gym about two and a half years ago, I already knew a lot of the guys who train here. I can say that Mike opened my eyes. Before I came here I was fighting only with my heart and character, punching and kicking, going forward always,” says Parparyan.
“When I came to Mike I saw the technical side of the game - punching from this angle, that angle, moving this way, using this stance. The move was eye-opening. A whole different level. Many people don’t understand how good Mike is.
“A lot of coaches in Holland have like one or two techniques - left, right, low kick, and if you don’t like that, for them you’re not a good fighter. Until I came to Mike’s Gym I didn’t understand how wrong that was.”
Saki and Kyshenko have both said similar things since their own recent moves to Mike’s Gym. Some criticism has been levelled at them though, via claims that coach Mike Passenier makes them focus too much on punches and power, reducing the variety of his fighter’s game.
Parparyan laughs at this. He concedes that fighters from Mike’s Gym go looking for knockouts, but says that does not involve any reduction of technique. The contrary, in fact.
“Who pays to see a fighter only going for points, or running and dancing in the ring? Muhammad Ali could do it but these guys are not Muhammad Ali, you know? Mike’s guys come to fight,” he says.
“But he does change how you punch, angles and small details, and that changes your power. Before him nobody showed me how to open a guy up, how to move for the right hand, how to create opportunities.
“I always wanted to learn this but nobody was telling me until Mike. And it was the same for Gokhan Saki - look at what he did to Daniel Ghita at GLORY 6. He wouldn’t have done that if he wasn’t training here.”
The last time we saw Parparyan in the GLORY ring he was fighting the world #1 middleweight (187lbs/86kgs) Artem Levin. They had a tough fight and in the process, Parparyan suffered a broken orbital and cheekbone.
That happened halfway into the second round - Parparyan fought on for a further two and a half rounds, with the fight going to the judges at the end of the fourth.
“I got the whole right side of my face broken. Totally broken. That was in the second round and we went to the end of the fourth round,” Parparyan shrugs.
“If you watch the video you can see in the second round where I start touching my face, I was looking for blood because I could feel my face was damaged. And then over the rest of the fight it got more and more damaged.
“But I’m recovered now. If I didn’t break my face I think I would have won the fight. First round was mine, second was his, third he got a yellow card because he kept using head butts after the referee warned him.
“It was a close fight and even with my face broken, I went the distance. Levin will be in the World Championship Tournament later this year. First I need to win the Contender Tournament this Saturday, then maybe I’ll meet Levin again.”
GLORY 14 ZAGREB takes place this Saturday, March 8 in Zagreb, Croatia. The event features a fight for the World Lightweight Title plus a heavyweight rematch between Mirko ‘CroCop’ and Remy Bonjasky.
It airs in the US on SPIKE TV at 9pm ET / 8pm CT and will be broadcast in over 150 territories worldwide - check local listings for details.