By Grant Gordon, email@example.com
5:06 PM PDT, October 19, 2013
This is the third in a series of articles examining the experiences of local fighters and coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter,” whether in past seasons or the current. The current season, “The Ultimate Fighter 18,” airs Wednesdays on Fox Sports 1, featuring Glendale-trained champion Ronda Rousey.
On a rare night in which his training schedule doesn’t conflict and Sevak Magakian finds himself in front of the television, he’ll tune into “The Ultimate Fighter.”
In the fall of 2010, Glendale’s Magakian was on the other side of the small screen, though, as part of the 12th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which pitted rivals Georges St. Pierre, still the Ultimate Fighting Championships welterweight champion, and then-challenger Josh Koscheck as opposing coaches.
With the initial season credited by many in leading to the popularity and growth of the UFC and mixed martial arts, in general, “The Ultimate Fighter” has served as a vehicle for up-and-coming fighters to try to find their way inside the UFC’s octagon.
For Magakian, though the Glendale resident was able to get into “The Ultimate Fighter” house, his quest to become a full-fledged UFC fighter is one that the 28-year old is still trying to realize. Still, he looks back with a smile to his days filming the show, which started in early June of 2010.
“When I get a chance, I watch it,” said Magakian of the show, which is now in the 18th season and features Ronda Rousey as a one of the head coaches opposite rival Miesha Tate. “You look at it and I’m like, ‘Damn, I was part of it.’ In five-10 years, it’s something I’ll tell my kids about.”
On Rousey’s Team Rousey coaching staff consists of Edmond Tarverdyan, Manny Gamburyan, Andy Dermenjian and Marina Shafir. In his MMA career, which is now approaching eight years, Magakian has trained with or at the same gyms as all of Rousey’s coaches. Currently, he still cuts his teeth at Main Event Gym in Glendale and Team Hayastan in North Hollywood, as he has for the duration of his career.
When he was an “Ultimate Fighter,” though, he was a member of Team Koscheck, along with longtime friend and teammate Sako Chivitchian. Before he was selected to any team or even set foot at the UFC gym in Las Vegas, Magakian got the call that he’d be on the show.
“I was so happy, I yelled,” Magakian said of his reaction. “It brings me back.”
As is the case in many seasons, just getting cast on the show — which featured one lightweight (155 pounds) tournament that season — didn’t assure a fighter would be sticking around, as 28 fighters fought for a chance to get into “The Ultimate Fighter” house and the tournament.
Magakian won his way on, looking impressive in taking both rounds on all three judges’ scorecards to decision JJ Ambrose, now a Bellator veteran with a 19-5 record.
Not long after, while sparring with Team Koscheck teammate Nam Phan, Magakian suffered a rib injury. He decided to fight through it, but, in the opening round of the tournament, lost to eventual winner Jonathan Brookins via rear-naked choke in the season’s sixth episode.
The season, which also saw Magakian lose his temper and confront Team St. Pierre’s Alex Caceres loom as a highlight, featured a wild-card fight in which two fighters would get a second chance after losing in the first round. But Magakian’s injury held him out of any hopes of fighting again.
Still, he thought after fighting through the rib injury he would be rewarded with a fight on the season finale in Las Vegas or later down the road on another UFC card, but the opportunity never came.
“They didn’t give me a shot to show what I got,” Magakian said. “It was the worst feeling, cause I took a chance and I fought with an injury.”
But Magakian has continued his career and boasts a 13-5-1 record, though he’s coming off an upset loss to Eric Brown in May.
“That last loss made me wake up,” Magakian said.
Now, Magakian says he’s reinvigorated. He was married in September, enjoyed his honeymoon and has since returned to the gym with a main event to look forward to. He’ll take on another former “TUF” contestant in Chris Saunders (10-5) on Nov. 23 in the headliner of Lights Out Promotions’ “Chaos at the Casino 3” at Hollywood Park and Casino.
“I’m training my ass off,” Magakian said. “I’m gonna win this fight no matter what.”
So Magakian continues to move forward with his MMA career, but every once in a while, he looks back at his experience as an ultimate fighter.
“When it ended, I was like everyone [thinking], ‘I would never do that again.’ Now when I look back, no, it was good. If I had a chance I would do it again,” Magakian said. “It was a great thing, it was the best. I knew I could win, but I got injured. Overall, it was a great experience.
“When I look back on it, I see the house, I see the gym, it comes back to me. I was there, I was part of it.”