When last Gamburyan fought, he was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against seventh-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Denis Siver.
However, the December bout was overturned and ruled no-contest in April after Siver tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is commonly used as a weight-loss and testosterone aid.
But Gamburyan still refers to the fight as a loss.
And on Saturday, Gamburyan will return to the octagon to face Nik Lentz in a three-round bantamweight bout as part of UFC Fight Night from Cincinnati’s U.S. Bank Arena in a fight he looks at as a must-win.
“He’s a great all-around fighter, he’s a good wrestler. He’s definitely a grinder,” Gamburyan, 33, said of Lentz. “But I’m not new to this sport. I don’t care what he has. I’m 100% sure of myself.
“The only option I have is to get the ‘W.’”
The 29-year-old Lentz, ranked No. 9 in the division, is coming off a loss to No. 1 Chad Mendes, who will challenge Jose Aldo for the title on Aug. 2 for the second time. It was Lentz’s first loss at 145 pounds, but no matter what happened in his December contest with Mendes, Lentz is hardly lacking confidence.
“My wrestling is by far better than his and so’s my ground game,” Lentz said. “But as far as where the fight goes, I’m comfortable wherever it is.
“I’m always 100% confident.”
Gamburyan, who trains at the Glendale Fighting Club and Team Hayastan in North Hollywood, is known for his judo background, his heavy top game and a powerful right hand, which knocked out Mike Thomas Brown in a World Extreme Cagefighting bout in 2010 and earned him a title shot against Aldo.
However, Lentz said there isn’t really anything all that dangerous that Gamburyan brings to the cage.
“Not in particular,” Lentz said. “But, he’s been around a long time. He’s a veteran of the game, so nothing’s going to surprise him.”
In his biggest victories, Lentz has used his wrestling to grind down opponents, an approach often used by Gamburyan.
“My mindset is better than ever,” said Lentz, who added that his time training with American Top Team in Coconut Springs, Fla. has paid huge dividends. “I’m really looking forward to this fight.”
The two of have gone to the judges in 23 of their combined 54 fights and their last eight in a row combined, further evidence of their grind-it-out nature.
In the common opponent department, both combatants have previously fought Robert Emerson, Tyson Griffin, Diego Nunes and Thiago Taveres. Lentz went 3-0-1 against the foursome, with a draw against Tavares and decision wins over the others. Gamburyan is 0-4 against the quartet, with three decision losses and a knockout defeat against Emerson.
For Lentz, it is an opportunity to maintain his standing in the top 10, while Gamburyan has one more chance against an elite opponent.
“Now I’m off a loss to Denis Siver and now I’m fighting another top-10 guy,” Gamburyan said. “I’m looking forward to this fight.”
For Gamburyan to seize the day, he believes he’ll have to be better than he was against Siver. In the bout, Siver, known for his kickboxing skill set, took Gamburyan down, which the Armenian admitted surprised him and also injured him during the course of the fight.
“To be honest, I’ve never talked about this … but the worst part was I wasn’t expecting him to take me down. He hit my knee with his head and it really hurt me and it felt like my knee wasn’t there,” Gamburyan said. “Besides the steroids … or whatever it is, I still could’ve done better. I’m a better fighter than that. I guess it just wasn’t my night.”
The Gamburyan-Lentz bout is slated to be the third of a 13-contest card and will stream live on the UFC Fight Pass portion of the preliminaries, which begin at 3:30 p.m. PDT. The remainder of the card will air on Fox Sports 1, headlined by a welterweight tilt between No. 7 Matt Brown and No. 14 Erick Silva.
A week before his bout, Gamburyan completed his latest camp and proclaimed himself ready, with a successful camp in hand. But that’s all old fare for the veteran, who consistently has good training camps, but knows he needs to have consistently successful fights.
“I always train hard, I’m always prepared,” Gamburyan said. “It’s all about May 10th when I get into that cage. It’s go-time, that’s when it matters.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.