"There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."
A "Diamond" in the rough world of muay Thai kickboxing, Edmond Tarverdyan was once a champion.
The Glendale High graduate was a champion who had trained in martial arts since he was but 7 and started training others when he was, amazingly, only 16 and running his own gym.
Now, the 30-year-old Tarverdyan is regarded as a successful combat sports trainer and coach with a keen eye for striking and a budding stable of talent that includes the likes of undefeated boxer Vanes Martirosyan, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Manny Gamburyan and undefeated Strikeforce women's champion Ronda Rousey, among others.
But tonight, Edmond Tarverdyan the trainer and coach will take a back seat, as Edmond "The Diamond" Tarverdyan returns to combat for the first time in four years and dips his educated feet into the waters of mixed martial arts for the very first time.
"He's a great coach, a great trainer, but to be honest, he's pretty good at everything he does," George Bastmajyan says.
Bastmajyan is the man behind just about every going-on involved in tonight's "Chaos at the Casino" card at the Hollywood Park Casino, which Tarverdyan will headline in his 155-pound matchup against Phil Nunez. Bastmajyan, a cut man, corner man and former muay Thai kick boxer, is also one of Tarverdyan's closest friends, as the two are seemingly shoulder to shoulder in every venture involving the Glendale Fighting Club gym and their Lights Out Promotions.
There were myriad factors that led to Tarverdyan deciding to return to competition and debut in MMA.
Not the least of which was quite plain and simple for a man such as Tarverdyan, who's a fighter in spirit and has immersed himself in martial arts for the majority of his life.
"I really miss it," Tarverdyan admits.
In addition, Tarverdyan admits to being inspired by the likes of Rousey, who's become a sensation in the MMA community and beyond following her ascent to the top of the women's fighting world. Having caught the eye of fans, media and promoters alike, Rousey has quickly become a star thanks to her beauty, intelligence and flat out dominance in the cage. But for Tarverdyan, it's been her dedication and work ethic that has propelled him.
"She just works so hard. That girl was in [the gym] every day before me," Tarverdyan says. "Manny was the same way."
And with the likes of boxers Art Hovhannesyan and Gapo Tolmajyan, Tarverdyan is there each and every fight to see his charges fighting to make names for themselves and climb to prominence.
And with Martirosyan and Gamburyan and Rousey, Tarverdyan has been there at the biggest venues among the most prominent names.
And within Tarverdyan, a fighter's heart clearly beats, one striving to compete and win inside the cage or in the middle of the ring.
"Edmond's an amazing person that loves to challenge himself," Rousey says. "He's been running his own gym since he was 16 … I think he just wants to challenge himself."
Ultimately, it came down to Bastmajyan and Tarverdyan and a Las Vegas conversation not long after Gamburyan had lost a close decision to Diego Nunes at UFC 141. Nunes was able to narrowly outpoint Gamburyan largely based on sticking to the outside and using his kickboxing, particularly leg kicks. In large, Tarverdyan realized one last time that he could fight at that level and he could succeed. And his friend believed the very same thing, but more importantly believed he would regret never having taken his shot.
"I told him, 'Man, you're 30, you're gonna look back and think why didn't I do it,'?" Bastmajyan says.