by: Vania Asmerian – 02/20/10
Vania AsmerianMixed Martial Arts fighters are commonly stereotyped as being violent, and are often labeled “angry, aggressive, and emotionally driven”. In order to examine where these misconceptions stem from, I have spent several weeks getting to know them to better understand what makes these combat sports athletes who they are and what they do. My time spent with them, has led me to the conclusion that not only are fighters falsely stereotyped, but also in fact, are no different then you or me: good people simply trying to achieve their goals. In addition, what I found most often goes unnoticed, is the heart it takes for these fighters to pursue their dreams. It is not only physically exhausting, but also mentally draining.
This underlying commonality led me to question the Hyefighters’ convictions, which in turn, drove my curiosity further. Why would anyone subject themselves to this level of affliction? What would drive a man to stand face to face in a ring or a cage with another man and choose to use brutal violence as a barometer for victory? For Hyefighter WEC lightweight Manny Gamburyan, it was an escape from his troubles in school. In the safety of the cage, he found refuge, a place to release his frustrations. He gained focus and learned to regain control of his entire being. “I was always getting into trouble, so finally my dad told me that I need to go train and took me to Gokor Chivichyan Hayastan Academy, in North Hollywood, and that changed my life.” For another Hyefighter, WEC lightweight Karen Darabedyan, training began at a very early time in his life, at the tender age of five, in many different techniques, such as karate, boxing, judo, stand-up and grappling. He, along with his fellow HyeFighters, such as Bellator featherweight Georgi Karakhanyan and Strikeforce light-heavyweight Champion Gegard Mousasi, are to maintain a strict diet, train intensively, and endure the strikes and blows that come with the sport. It is a lifestyle. As the mainstream market continues struggling to accept and follow MMA, I feel it is my responsibility to shine light on this art form and help tear town the “bruitish” stereotypes that surround the sport.
So, I dug deeper into the realms of the the daily life of an Armenian fighter. It was not all glitz and glamour. The twice-a-day tedious training takes a major toll on an individual’s body, both physically and mentally. The change in diet to cut weight, sometimes up to 20 pounds, is overwhelming at times, and quite difficult. The change in lifestyle is in itself tiresome. Yet, the rush of adrenaline and sweet taste of victory are an unmatched reward to the energy that goes into transforming into a professional fighter. Having a dream that comes to life is something that everyone strives for in this world. The pursuit of happiness has inspired many Armenian fighters to plot their paths to greatness, or downfall, depending on their level of commitment. I now thoroughly understand. My goal is to allow others to step into a fighters shoes and try to appreciate their chosen profession as an art form and not a form of attack.
Editor’s note: Vania Asmerian will be contributing regularly to HyeFighters.com
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