Jared Papazian once called his manager every day to see whether he’d been secured a UFC contract. It was so important, it consumed his life.
He’s not making any calls now. Released by the industry-leading promotion after going 0-3 inside the octagon, he’s back on the regional circuit. Before he picks up the phone again, he wants to have something to offer.
On Friday, Papazian (14-9) headlines BAMMA USA’s “Badbeat 8? opposite Terrion Ware (3-1) at Commerce Casino in Commerce, Calif., and he hopes to rebuild his career with an impressive win.
“My goal is to get back, and in order to do that, I’ve got to stay busy and improve,” he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
While he improves, he’s not looking to pad his record with opponents that are inexperienced or have losing records. He also plans to stay at bantamweight, where he fought the bulk of his career.
“I told BAMMA I don’t want any easy fights, and I don’t believe in easy fights,” Papazian said. “[Ware is] an up-and-comer, but he’s got a pretty decent record. So it’s a good start to have a good fight for the UFC.”
That said, he doesn’t know much about Ware, other than a supposed taste for striking over grappling. But he will come into the fight with lessons learned from his time in the UFC, which ended with a “Fight of the Night” meeting with Tim Elliot at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale this past December.
“Not get too excited in the fight,” Papazian said. “Don’t go for the kill all the time. Other than that, it was the best experience. I competed against all the top guys. Obviously, there’s some things I need to work on.”
Prior to his slide, Papazian had won eight out of nine in smaller promotions. Such a streak got him noticed by the UFC, even though he couldn’t capitalize on it.
One day, though, he hopes that he won’t have to pick up the phone – because the UFC is calling him.
“Before, I was in a hurry,” Papazian said. “Now, I’m here to keep improving, and when I do go back, I want them to say, ‘Wow, this kid is for real.’
“I’ll be back. I’m young; I’m 25 years old. UFC ain’t going anywhere.”
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