Bellator 228: How Georgi Karakhanyan Secured Grand Prix Spot


Georgi Karakhanyan has always been willing to fight anyone, and it’s that approach that landed him a fight with A.J. McKee at Bellator 228.

Los Angeles, CA — Fortune favors the bold. That saying pretty much sums up Georgi Karakhanyan’s inclusion in the Bellator featherweight grand prix, which kicks off this September in California.

Karakhanyan was willing to fight Emmanual Sanchez on short notice earlier this year. He was willing to take on A.J. McKee in the opening round of the tournament, when no one else would. Now, he has a shot at a million dollars, starting with the McKee fight at Bellator 228 in L.A.

“I feel good about it, man. I got a phone call telling me that no one wants to fight A.J. the first fight in the tournament. I said give him to me,” Karakhanyan told Cageside Press at the event’s media day in Los Angeles this week. “He’s an undefeated kid, he fought good guys, but I feel he hasn’t fought no one like me.”

While he didn’t outright say it, Karakhanyan, a former WSOF champ, seems to feel McKee’s record early on was a little padded. “I feel like, winning his fights — except his last fight against Curran, that was a tough fight — but before that, I think they were just building him. He was a prospect.”

“I’ve been in this game for too long, I know who’s a prospect, who’s getting fed,” observed Karakhanyan. “Look at Dillon Danis, he’s fighting chumps.”

“[Mckee] moved up, he started fighting good guys, and then his last few fights were decent ones,” admitted the fighter known as “Insane.” Still, he feels there’s something lacking in McKee’s competition level. “Again, he hasn’t faced me. Until I fight him, then we’ll see who’s better.”

While Georgi Karakhanyan will enter Bellator 228 off a loss to Emmanuel Sanchez, it’s actually that defeat that secured him a spot in the grand prix. Sanchez was outside Bellator at the time, but as often happens in MMA, stepping up bore fruit. “My last fight didn’t go my way,” he said, but “I literally took that fight three days notice, I cut a lot of weight — I’m not going to say how much. The thing with my last fight, I came in, I stepped up, no one would fight Sanchez and I stepped in. After I fought him, they told me ‘you’re going to be in the tournament’ but I wasn’t sure if I [was], coming off a loss and stuff like that.”

Then the call came to confirm that he was in. A shot at a title, somewhere along the line if he keeps winning. A million dollars in prize money at the end.

If Karakhanyan gets his way, along the way, he’ll fight an old rival: Patricio Pitbull.

“I would like to fight Pitbull. He beat me decisively, he knocked me out with a left hook,” said Karakhanyan. That was way back at Bellator 37 in 2011. “I’ve fought a lot of guys actually in the tournament, so I’d love to get revenge on Pitbull. But he’s facing my training partner Juan Archuleta, and I think he has a lot of his plate with Juan. I’m just looking forward to whoever.”

With a teammate in the tournament, what happens if they cross paths? Jokingly, Karakhanyan answered “we’re just going to play rock, paper, scissors to make it to the final.” But in all seriousness, he doesn’t see it as an issue. “Juan knows me, my family I know him, [his] family. We talked about this. We go in the finals, we have no problem fighting each other.”

Bellator 228, which sees Georgi Karakhanyan take on the undefeated A.J. McKee, takes place September 28, 2019 at The Forum in Los Angeles.

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