SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Chaos at the Casino will feature over a dozen Armenian fighters with local connections across three different fighting disciplines — boxing, mixed martial arts and Muay Thai.
In the meantime, most of the principle figures set to compete on the May 5th card at Hollywood Park Casino can be found under one roof on Saturday mornings at the Glendale Fighting Club on Brand Boulevard.
Saturday's open workout at the GFC featured several of the fighters associated with the Hye Fighters community who will ply their trade at Chaos at the Casino, including GFC proprietor Edmond Tarverdyan, a former Muay Thai champion, who will use the venue to make his MMA debut.
"I'm getting in there and the guys I train are fighting on the same card, so hopefully I can get my fight done with quick so I can go corner them," said Tarverdyan, whose pupils Art "Lionheart" Hovhannisyan (boxing) and Roman Mitichyan (MMA) will have high-profile fights on the card. "Everybody pushes each other in a different way. But everybody's nice to each other and we work out hard together. We have almost the same schedule, we get together at the same time, so it's pretty cool."
Hovhannisyan and Mitichyan were both present Saturday, along with fellow Chaos at the Casino combatants mixed martial artists Ara Muradyan and Sako Chivitchian, boxers Azat Hovhannesyan and Georgi Karakhanyan and Alfred Keshishyan, Sevak Ohanjanian and Ando Janoyan competing in Muay Thai.
"Having all my friends that I've trained with and fought on the same cards with, putting them all on the same card, I've always wanted to do that," said George Bastrmajyan, Tarverdyan's partner in Lights Out Promotions, which is putting on the card. "My last card I put on, I had five Armenians, now I have 14. I feel blessed that everybody can be and will be fighting on the card."
While many of the fighters at the GFC on Saturday have roots in various other camps across the region, from Gokor Chivichyan's Team Hayastan MMA Academy to SK Golden Boys Wrestling Club and Main Event gym, among others, the GFC remains a major epicenter of the Hye Fighters movement and a natural gathering place for training and sparring among its members.
"We all cross-train with each other. We're all in local camps around here," said Chivitchian, who will be making his return to action after an 18-month injury-induced layoff. "Everybody knows each other and knows each other's strengths. The main thing is we come together and train, but when it's fight time, we're professionals. We get in there and we fight and whoever trains hardest and is ready will win."
In an odd role reversal, World Boxing Council light middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan, Tarverdyan's most high-profile boxing trainee, donned the pads to help Tarverdyan work on his striking.
Tarverdyan then sparred several rounds with Karakhanyan, a veteran of MMA, who will make his boxing debut on May 5.
Next up in the ring, a spirited sparring session between Keshishyan and mixed martial artist Jared Papazian that had both men spent in the center of the ring after several intense rounds.
As the countdown to May 5 begins, it's clear the fighters involved are excited about the chance to not only train but compete alongside their comrades.
"It's very cool, it's like a family thing," said Mitichyan, who started the day teaching a youth judo class at the GFC. "I'm very excited to be part of it. We've got exciting fights."
But, it's also clear while Saturday's workout felt at times like a Saturday morning social club, Chaos at the Casino is serious business for the competitors and very much a day at the office.
"It's a very big deal personally for me," Chivitchian said. "We've got 12 Hye Fighters on the card, it's going to be a big thing for Glendale and the community, but also, for me, I've been out of the fight game for over a year. I'm fresh, I'm excited, I need a comeback fight and I think it's the perfect time for me."
Hovhannisyan, who has just returned from his first trip home to Armenia in five years and looks forward to ending an eight-month span without a fight, also has a lot at stake in his fight.
"I'm hungry for a fight," Hovhannisyan said. "I'm ready for any fight.
"There are a lot of Armenians fighting [May 5], so you have to win."