phil-baroni-3.jpgPhil Baroni‘s MMA career has been a wild ride, to say the least. This Friday, he’ll turn another chapter in his storied run as a professional fighter when he makes his debut for Bellator MMA.

“The New York Bad Ass” has experienced it all during a career that dates back to 2000. He has fought for essentially every major organization such as UFC, PRIDE, Strikeforce, EliteXC, DREAM and ONE FC. One platform he’s yet to showcase his talents on, though, is the Viacom-owned Bellator promotion.

Baroni has not competed since he suffered a nasty broken fibula in a first-round loss to Nobutatsu Suzuki this past May. The injury has kept him out of action for more than a year, his longest break since 2009.

An extended layoff for a veteran of Baroni’s stature may seem like a disservice to his career, but the 38-year-old is actually grateful because he was forced to sit down and reassess his goals.

The most prominent goal on Baroni’s (15-17 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) list is simple: win his next fight. That comes against Karo Parisyan (23-10 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) on the main card of Bellator 122 this Friday from Temecula’s Pechanga Resort and Casino. The event airs on Spike TV following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Parisyan, like Baroni, is a well-traveled veteran who is looking to revive his career under the Bellator banner. He is eager to produce winning results, and that’s exactly why Baroni believes this is the perfect fight at this point in his career.

“I’m a prototypical MMA fighter where Karo is totally unorthodox,” Baroni told MMAjunkie Radio. “I think I can hold my own with him, I don’t plan on getting thrown on my head. … I’m going to bring it, definitely.

“I respect Karo, he’s a tough dude. When he brings his A-game, he’s a tough out and he’s an exciting fighter.”

With just two victories in his past nine fights and a sub-.500 record for the first time in his career, it would be easy to look at Baroni and write him off as a mere journeyman with little left to offer.

He doesn’t look at it that way, though, and believes he is still capable of winning fights and giving the world’s best competitors all they can handle.

Whether that’s realistic or not still remains to be seen, but Baroni claims he has used the past year to train harder than ever and flourish his talents. Because of that, he’s highly confident going into what is his most high-profile bout since he was released from the UFC in early 2011.

“I plan on winning,” Baroni said. “I’m coming to win, I plan on winning. I’m going to try and knock him out, I’m looking to hit him hard and separate him from consciousness. He’s going to look to throw me on my head and maybe armbar or kimura me. We’re as opposite as you can get. The one thing we have in common is we’re both tough guys. We both come to fight.”

Baroni has always carried himself highly outside of the cage, even if he’s struggled hard to get the job done inside of it. His string of defeats is certainly unflattering, but the American has kept a positive attitude through his downfalls and says a standout performance on Friday will quickly change the perception of his place in MMA.

“I’m going to knock him out,” Baroni boldly predicted. “I’m going to go out there, I’m not going to let him take me down, I’m going to be first and hit him hard. I’m bigger, I’m stronger and I’m faster. I hit harder and I’m going to make him pay for getting in there with me. I’m going to knock him out and stop him early.

“The truth comes out in the ring. You can’t hide. I can say whatever I want right now. This is the best I’ve ever felt in my life, greatest shape of my life – we’ll find out on the 25th.”

For more on Bellator 122, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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