Bellator Fighting Championships announced today the exclusive signing of top mixed martial artist Georgi “Insane” Karakhanyan, a former professional soccer player and emerging MMA star, to compete in the featherweight (145 lb.) division during Bellator Season 2.
Karakhanyan, 24, has compiled a record of 12-1-1 since making his professional MMA debut in 2006, and was rated by multiple websites as the top unsigned featherweight in the world prior to his signing with Bellator. His only loss came via a 2008 split decision.
“With 12 wins and just one loss under his belt, Georgi is a proven winner” said Bjorn Rebney, founder and CEO of Bellator Fighting Championships. “He brings an explosive style to the cage that makes for great fights. We are excited to welcome Georgi to Bellator.”
Born in Moscow, Russia, to Armenian parents, Karakhanyan was introduced to martial arts at the age of six by his father, a karate black-belt. Soon, though, he fell in love with soccer and went on to play at the amateur and professional levels in Russia, Spain and the U.S.
While playing for the San Diego Sockers of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL), Karakhanyan began studying Jiu-Jitsu as part of his conditioning regimen. When the team folded, he decided to take up fighting full-time.
“Maybe it’s because I played soccer all those year, but I like to kick when I’m in the cage and I’m a strong kicker,” Karakhanyan said. “I like to keep the fight standing up, but I’ll find a way to beat my opponent if he takes it to the ground.”
Karakhanyan, who coaches children and adults in martial arts at the Millenia MMA gym in his current hometown of Riverside, Calif., laughed when asked about the derivation of his nickname, “Insane.” It is a loose translation of the Armenian “gizh,” a word his mother jokingly used to describe his sometimes quirky behavior as a child.
Karakhanyan admits he has done his best to live up to the name during his career in MMA.
“I do some strange things in the cage sometime,” he said. “I talk to my corner, I talk to my opponents. I like to surprise people. That’s what I’m all about.”
Karakhanyan is the latest fighter to sign with Bellator since the announcement, in October, of the promotion’s historic new TV distribution alliances with FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo. Bellator Season 2 begins April 8, 2010 and will run for 12 weeks. Bellator Season 3 will follow beginning Aug. 12, 2010, and will also run for 12 successive weeks.
Each of Bellator’s 24 fights during Seasons 2 and 3 will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every Saturday night, late night, on NBC. A one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m. Each of the three broadcasts will be aired in high definition.