Rick Hawn may very well have his eye on the future, and the future for him, he hopes, holds another shot at Bellator’s lightweight title.
Hawn had his first crack at champion Michael Chandler in January in Bellator’s season-opening event, but he was submitted in the second round and sent back to the drawing board.
Getting in the promotion’s fall lightweight tournament is what he wants, and he’ll have to win three more fights there to get another crack at the belt.
But all that comes after Hawn (14-2 MMA, 6-2 BFC) he fights a fellow judo expert in UFC veteran Karo Parisyan (22-9 MMA, 0-0 BFC) next Thursday at Bellator 95. And not that they have true beef or anything, but Hawn isn’t likely sending his opponent a Christmas card.
“We don’t really like each other,” Hawn told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “We used to compete against each other in judo 10 or 12 years ago. We fought a couple times at the U.S. Opens. We’re not the biggest fans of each other. It started off as judo rivals, so that was part of it. And I just never really got along with him. He’s just not my favorite person to be around or to be associated with. It’s nothing more than that – I just don’t like him.”
Hawn said he won both his judo matches with Parisyan back in the day, but he’s not necessarily counting on those wins to have much impact in the Bellator cage.
“Everyone watched Karo – he has amazing judo skills,” Hawn said. “He used to throw a lot of guys in the UFC. He was definitely someone I watched over the years and I figured that maybe one day, our paths would cross. Now is that time. I won both those fights (against him). I didn’t destroy him or anything – he’s definitely a game competitor and very scrappy. But that was a long time ago.”
Hawn, a 2004 Olympian in judo, started his MMA career 11-0, including a trip to Bellator’s Season 4 welterweight tournament finals. But he lost a close split decision to Jay Hieron, who went on to lose a decision to champ Ben Askren.
After that loss and about 10 months off, Hawn dropped to lightweight and ran through the Season 6 tournament at 155 pounds with a pair of knockouts and a decision win over Brent Weedman in the finals.
But against Chandler, he wasn’t on his game, and that’s one of the reasons he hopes he can get a chance to play things back one day and change the outcome.
“I realized I made a mistake and got caught, and Chandler’s definitely a very good fighter,” Hawn said. “He’s been a little under the radar. But he’s definitely earned the title and represented it well. It took a little bit to get over it, but that’s why I asked to get back as soon as possible and get back in the win column and shake that one off.
“I’m hoping to get back in the next lightweight tournament, and hopefully I can get through that. Obviously it’s going to be a tough tournament – a lot of good lightweights now on the Bellator roster. But hopefully all goes well and I win the tournament and get another shot at the title and things go different the next time I get a chance to fight him.”
But before that, there’s the little matter of Parisyan, who makes his Bellator debut on a two-fight win streak, but just 3-3 since his 2010 release from the UFC.
Judoka vs. judoka means fans can expect someone to get judo tossed, right? Hawn thinks it’s certainly possible.
“I’m sure someone’s going to get thrown in this fight,” he said. “It definitely has the potential to be a crazy fight. I’m not really looking for it. If a throw happens and I catch him, that’s fine. Or if I just stand with him and bang. Whatever I feel is working best for me at that time, I’ll try to make sure I do and stay out of danger.”
Bellator 95 takes place Thursday at Ovation Hall at Revel in Atlantic City, N.J. The main card, including Hawn-Parisyan, airs on Spike TV (10 p.m. ET) following prelims on Spike.com (8 p.m. ET).
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