Sevak Magakian is looking to make his return to the big time as it relates to mixed martial arts, otherwise known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Friend and fellow Glendale MMA fighter Karen Darabedyan is hoping to follow a similar path, but, for now, is simply returning to combat for the first time in a long time.
The two are set to return to the cage in separate bouts June 16 as part of Shofight 20 in Springfield, Mo.
"I'm really pumped, it's been overdue," said Darabedyan of returning to action, as he hasn't fought since September of 2010, when he lost his third straight bout. "I've been out for way too long."
The card will feature a slew of former UFC veterans and well-known fighters such as Drew Fickett, Terry Martin and Marcus Aurelio, along with former "The Ultimate Fighter" participants, including Kendall Grove, Roli Delgado, Shonie Carter and Shamar Bailey (13-7), who will headline the event against Karo Parisyan (20-8), a frequent training partner of Magakian and Darabedyan and a former UFC welterweight contender.
"The whole card's stacked," Darabedyan said. "It's a real good card."
Magakian (10-3) is on a three-fight winning streak and looking to earn entrance into the UFC with a win over veteran opponent and UFC alum John Gunderson (33-13-2), who is far and away his most experienced opponent yet and likely his toughest.
"It's a step up for me and I'm gonna win," said Magakian, who was formerly a cast member of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show and is hoping to return to the UFC ranks, "and, God willing, I'll get back to the UFC."
Magakian, 26, was injured coming off the show, but returned on Oct. 29, 2011, defeating David Gardner via first-round technical knockout in Burbank before a first-round submission win over Eddie Mendez on Jan. 28. However, he was once again sidelined as he pulled out of an April 6 bout due to a back ailment. But, the 155-pound fighter said he's healthy and ready for combat.
"It's a pretty good fight, I can't wait," said Magakian, who has won eight bouts by submission and won nine fights by first-round stoppage. "I'm healthy, I'm ready, I can't wait."
Aside from a bout in Laughlin, Nev. in October of 2008, the fight will also mark Magakian's most distant fighting venture after a career that's long seen him travel the Southern California fighting circuit.
"L.A.'s my backyard. A lot of people come out to support you," Magakian said. "But, the only thing I'm worried about is putting on a good show and winning."
Darabedyan, on the other hand, is well-traveled, having fought in the Philippines, Ohio, Canada and Texas — the latter three coming in succession over his last three bouts. Of course, those were all setbacks, as he was submitted first by Bart Palaszewski after he'd knocked the current UFC veteran fighter down earlier in the bout; was then submitted by Will Kerr in a stunning upset and then lost to Daniel Strauss, a current Bellator standout, via close and controversial submission.
Once a rising star in the ranks of the UFC's then-sibling promotion World Extreme Cagefighting after having defeated former lightweight champion Rob McCullough, Darabedyan's ready to get back on the horse and ride back into form.
"I'm looking at this one as a comeback fight to get going," said Darabedyan, 25. "I've gotta get my butt back."
Darabedyan is advertised to fight Josh McDonald, but he said he's likely to get a new opponent and will then officially sign a contract, but reiterated that he's definitely fighting.
"I'm gonna be fighting for sure," he said.
The bout is also to be a 165-pound catch-weight affair.
"I'm training my ass off," Darabedyan said. "I'm doing things I've never done before."