Manny Gamburyan is one of the most exciting young fighters in the UFC. He recently fought his way to the finals of TUF 5 where he lost via medical disqualification to Nate Diaz after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Gamburyan made a successful comeback with a first round stoppage of Nate Mohr just six months later and now finds himself facing Jeff Cox at The Ultimate Fight Night 13 in Denver, Co. Gamburyan was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule, just a day before his fight, to discuss his opponent, his rift with Nate Diaz and his future.
Fightline.com: There have been rumors floating around about a possible rift between you and your cousin Karo Parisyan. Are there any truth to those rumors?
Gamburyan: That’s just people talking. We’re training together right now. He’s actually right there [points].
Fightline.com: How are you feeling on the eve of this fight?
Gamburyan: I feel great man. I worked out really hard…like I never worked out before. I never take any one easy so every time I fight I just want to come out here and do my thing. I don’t care what people say. People used to say, ‘Your to small for this weight’. I just want to prove everyone wrong you know. I’m not small. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing. That’s all.
Fightline.com: Everyone knows about the “loss” you suffered via medical DQ to Nate Diaz. How are you planning to recover from that setback?
Gamburyan: All I got to do is just take every fight one at a time. I don’t want to jump any fights or put anyone down. My next opponent is Jeff Cox. I’m just gonna try to whip his ass, you know and move on and then next is Diaz; not to prove anything it’s just a continuation. I’m going to continue where I left off.
Fightline.com: What have you improved about your game since the last time we saw you?
Gamburyan: I’ve improved a lot on my stand up, my wrestling. I wrestled a lot with world class wrestlers. I do a lot of judo with my training partners; there all a lot of tough guys so I’m ready to fight.
Fightline.com: How’s the shoulder?
Gamburyan: The shoulder’s getting better. Hopefully it’s not going to give me any problems. Anything could happen. I took a chance, rehabbed it, but I feel comfortable with it. The doctors told me I had the choice to rehab it or get the surgery. The doctor said, ‘Manny, if you take that chance if you do the rehab it’s gonna take a while. But, if you do the surgery it’s gonna be six to nine months.’ I thought I had a great year in 2007, I had a great fighting year. I went to the finals. I was fighting for the finale, unfortunately I popped my shoulder out. When Joe Silva (UFC Matchmaker) called me he asked ‘Manny, are you ready to go for next year. And I said, ‘Why not this year.’ So he called me and told me he was going to put me on the New Year’s show.
Fightline.com: A lot of people would like to see a fight between you and Nate Diaz. You and Nate where good friends on TUF 5 show. What is your relationship like now?
Gamburyan: Well, we don’t talk anymore. When we see each other we don’t even shake hands.
Fightline.com: You used to be very close on the show right?
Gamburyan: Yes, I feel really bad. You know, if he came up to shake my hand I would shake his hand, it’s just the fight, you know. It doesn’t mean anything, we’re still gonna fight again. Nothing bad blooded going on.
Fightline.com: So, the reason that you two aren’t interacting right now is because of the tension because of unfinished business?
Gamburyan: Right, right. We look at each other, we don’t talk to each other, we don’t shake each others’ hands. It’s kinda, you know…it’s awkward. But I guess that’s how it goes until we’re done with it.
Fightline.com: And then will you go back to being friends?
Gamburyan: I’m pretty sure we will.
Fightline.com: Who are some guys that you feel represent the best threats in your division.
Gamburyan: Nobody’s going to impress me. I respect every fighter. 1 through 10 everybody’s good. You can’t put anybody down for sure. They’re all good fighters, good guys, good trainers. I’d say Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Roger Huerta, those guys; but I’ll fight any one of them.
Fightline.com: How do feel about a match up with BJ Penn?
Gamburyan: Uh, I don’t know about that. I know he’s really good, but if there was any way I could fight him I would do it for sure. But he’s a different level guy. He’s a top talented guy. The most talented guy I’ve ever seen in my life. Actually I’m going out to train with him next month for his fight with Sean Sherk. He called me to go train with him because I fought Sean Sherk before. So basically I’m going to go out there and try to help him out. It’s an honor to work out with him. He’s a legend. He’s a great guy.
Fightline.com: Is it true you fought as a pro at 15.
Gamburyan: Yes. 15 years old. I fought Sean Sherk when I was 18. I went the distance with him 18 minutes.
Fightline.com: What did you think of his skills.
Gamburyan: He’s a good wrestler. He’s tough. At the time I fought him I was 150 he was 180 so you know I got better, he got better. The thing is I want to test myself again. If I do get to that level I want to rematch him again. I don’t want to take anything away from him. He’s a champion, but I do want to challenge him again just to see where I’m at because I know I can beat him now.
Fightline.com: The lightweight division is stacked with talent. Who are the best young fighters in your weight class. Who are guys you think could be future champions?
Gamburyan: Probably Lauzon. I’m not gonna say I got lucky. I fought my game. He’s a smart guy. He’s talented. Some people say, ‘Manny, you beat the shit out of Lauzon and he’s fighting in the main event.’ It doesn’t matter though because the guy deserves to be there. He knocked out a freaking former UFC champion so you got to give him credit. The UFC told me to fight Jeff Cox so I’ll fight Jeff Cox. If they tell me to fight Roger Huerta I’ll fight Huerta
Fightline.com: Who do you want next?
Gamburyan: The winner of [Kurt] Pellegrino and [Nate] Diaz; If I win my fight.
Fightline.com: Who wins that fight – Pellegrino and Diaz?
Gamburyan: You know what? That’s gonna be a hard fight. It wont be easy because Diaz pushes the pace. You gotta be ready for him. It’s gonna be a tough one.