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Neil Melanson: ‘Karo is suffering right now’

karo_parisyanFiveOuncesofPain.com had the opportunity to speak with Neil Melanson, a longtime friend and training partner to Karo “The Heat” Parisyan along with being the head Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Xtreme Couture, on the heels of Dana White’s recent announcement that the welterweight crowd pleaser would never fight for the UFC.

This afternoon Dana relayed via his Twitter account that this Saturday evening’s anticipated UFC 106 showdown between Karo and fellow submission specialist Dustin Hazelett had been cancelled, stating, “Pulled out of the fight the day before weigh ins again with a laundry list of excuses!!! Let the press ask karo why! Let him explain”.

When contacted in pursuit of the real story behind the recent situation concerning his close friend, Melanson first spoke with Karo in order to get his blessing for the true facts to come out. As the age old saying goes, “the truth shall set you free”.

“Karo’s had some problems with an addiction to pain medicine due to an injury he sustained a few years ago,” began Melanson, who essentially began training under Karo Parisyan years ago while under the guidance of grappling legend Gokor Chivichyan in L.A., only to evolve to a point with his own grappling where he eventually became the teacher. “Then when he started having these anxiety problems, it didn’t seem like the anxiety pills were helping him. The only thing that was helping him was the pain medication that he had been taking for his injuries. That’s when he just started down that slope.

“It’s just one of those situations where you have two guys that sit down to have a drink, and you have one guy that can go home and he’s fine, and the other guy has to go out and get wasted every single time because he’s an alcoholic. I think that maybe with the pills, that Karo is the second guy. Maybe he’s the guy that can’t take them here and there, or can’t use them effectively. It’s really hard on him.”

According to Neil, Karo had a plan to do things the right way this time around. A plan that, for so many reasons that could be extremely difficult for a person that hasn’t suffered from one form of addiction or another to understand, just didn’t seem to work out the way he had thought it would. That huge invisible monster that is chemical dependency had a plan of it’s own for the tormented Judo specialist that never seemed to take a backwards step during his years spent inside of the UFC’s Octagon fencing.

“He came out and saw me recently for a couple of days, and I still thought he had a little ways to go, but he looked, probably the best I’ve seen him in a year,” explained Melanson. “I was really optimistic about this fight. I was like, ‘This guy is back with it. He seems like he has a really good chance here’. Then I got caught up training Randy [Couture] during that time and he couldn’t make it out. He didn’t make it out to Greg Jackson’s either. I talked to his camp and they said that he was kind of hit or miss. If he showed up he looked pretty good, but for the most part he wouldn’t show up. So he’s had some problems.

“He told me that he was on pain medicine, but he wanted to get off. He had a plan and he was working his way to get off of it. About a month ago he was taking about half the amount that he usually does and he was pretty optimistic. He was really trying to push it. He was going through some withdrawals and he would try to push it as hard as he could to get off the stuff. He really had a plan to be off three weeks prior to the fight and he really wanted to clean up. He really wanted to do this right. It was really important to him and his family. I hadn’t spoken to him for just a little bit, and I guess he tried, but he couldn’t.

“He contacted me and told me about the situation, and I said, ‘Look, just sleep on it and we’ll talk about it tomorrow’. I met with Greg Jackson and we had a little conversation about everything. From there I called Karo and I just told him, ‘Well you’re better off being honest now than piss testing and getting in trouble with the commission’. He did the right thing there and told them. He messed up, but people shouldn’t hate him for it. The guy has a legit problem right now. He did the right thing; he didn’t cheat, he didn’t lie, he didn’t do anything wrong. He just had a problem that he tried to overcome and he couldn’t do it. I think that everybody can sympathize with that. Karo has put on great shows in the past, and I think that he felt a lot of pressure to do that again.”

While it can often be so easy to point the finger at what can be perceived to be the bad guy, often times the “bad guy” is nothing more than a man being tormented by demons and forces seemingly beyond his personal control.

“My heart goes out to him,” said Melanson. “I know he’s suffering right now. With the UFC dropping him, he’s a mess. He’s a complete mess. Just imagine what it’s like to have an addiction problem, and to lose everything like this all in one day. But at the end of the day he still did the right thing by coming clean and not trying to test, or fight, or lie, or anything like that. So before people start hating on him I hope they realize that when push came to shove, he did the right thing.

“He could have disrespected the sport by going out there and fighting. A lot of people try to beat the test somehow. He could have done a lot of things to make the sport look bad. He could have done that because he was greedy, or because he needed money, or whatever it was, but instead he did the right thing and he didn’t make the UFC look like jerks by testing dirty. I know Dana is saying some things right now because he’s really upset about it, but Dana cares about him. Dana has always been really good to him. I know he’s probably pretty upset, and I would be too. He’s pulled out of a couple of fights before, and if you’re a promoter that would piss you off pretty bad.

“Once he gets cleaned up and back on his feet, he’ll probably go out there and compete. If it’s not with the UFC it will be somewhere else. If Karo got clean and worked hard he’d be back in the top five again. He was ranked in the top five for his weight class for over three years. You don’t do that by being a slouch.”

While Karo never needed anyone to help him out inside of the cage during countless wars staged with the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Nick Diaz, Diego Sanchez or Matt Serra, God knows the 27 year old Armenian born mixed martial arts phenom needs help from elsewhere during his current, and most important fight.

Hopefully close friends like Neil Melanson and a tight nit family can give Karo the positive reinforcement and energy it’s going to take for the naturally gifted fighter to return to his old form of one of the most feared 170 pound fighters in the business; and if not that, at least to a place where he can rid himself of the shackles of chemical dependency and allow him to truly live once again.

15 COMMENTS
  • Dufresne says:

    Many of us have voiced our opinions on this already, and it more or less boils down to this: It is a tragedy that Karo has the problems that he has, but these did not show up yesterday or even this week. He knew what was going on and he knows the repercussions of testing positive after the fight. Pulling out the day before was not the way of going about this. I for one will add Karo to my prayers in hopes that he can get his demons under control as a person, but I cannot look past him doing this as a professional.

    Well-Done. Thumb up 52 Thumb down 9

  • Vogairian says:

    It’s very sad to see such a talented person such as Karo waste his abilities and even sadder to see another person in such a bad situation. Everyone close to him should help him get through this and hopefully back to a place where he can get on with his life. That said, he’s still a professional and I can’t feel too bad when he left a lot of people hanging with his actions. Like it’s been said, his dependancy issue isn’t a suprise to anyone around him and his camp should have done something when they realized what was going on. Instead everyone waited until the last minute and could have potentially taken money out of Dustin Hazelett’s pockets.

    Well-Done. Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  • 27jride says:

    I’ve had my bouts with chemical dependency many years ago so I can TOTALLY relate to the guy- his head isn’t on straight and it will take some work to fix it! I lost my sister at 27 years old to drugs and for whatever reason, caught myself just in time 10 years ago and am now a VERY happy but worried dad and husband. Life can be a bitch and although I believe that anyone can beat that shit, I know where he’s at right now and as a person, I feel for him. It IS his fault but ,if he accepts it as such and corrects things he’ll prevail and at the very least live a good life from here. Good luck man, you’ve got a shitty road ahead of you and a million fight fans that are gonna say a lot of shitty stuff about you (which I obviously didn’t have) but if you choose to change your behavior and do what’s right for yourself and your family you’ll do just fine! I’m also VERY happy to hear Dana isn’t gonna allow Dustin to get fucked out of his pay because that would have been a terrible penalty to a guy who trained his heart out and had no control over the shitty situation he found himself in. Dustin deserves his reward and hopefully Karo will pull his head out of his ass!

    Well-Done. Thumb up 27 Thumb down 3

  • Ray Pist says:

    I was with you when you said when push came to shove he did the right thing….he did the right thing now…but it seems so wrong because he did the wrong thing for so long up to this point. I know chemical dependency is tough, it doesn’t let you think straight, but your friends, family, and team mates maybe need to step up and use their heads.

    If my buddy told me he was addicted to whatever…i’ll use heroin…but that he plans on getting off of it, and he is only taking half the heroin he used to…and he should be off the heroin within 3 weeks of the fight, I’d slap him, call the promoter the month plus prior tell him the scoop, and get buddy in Rehad ASAP….I bet Dana woulda went for that if it wasn’t 2 days prior to the fight.

    Karo needs to get himself clean, figure out what he wants out of life, whether it be to fight, get a regular job, or suck dicks for quarters on street corners….whichever it is he needs to figure it out for himself….I was once told that nobody will help you unless you want to help yourself….but sometimes by the time you realize you do want to help yourself the offers of help are long gone….that’s when you really have to want the help and have some will power and dedication to go through with it on your own.

    I do hope he gets better even though I am not a fan of “the heat”…however I don’t think the big promoters should jump at the bit once Karo says he is good to sign him…let him re-establish himself as a dependable fighter in the smaller orgs, take some of the pressure off the guy, and if he is able to come around then give him another shot.

    Well-Done. Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  • Makington says:

    Durfesne said it the best, as well as in the other article. As a person, I want nothing more than for him to get better. I know a lot of painkiller addictions and I know how hard it can be, but pulling out 2 days before the event is unacceptable no matter how you cut it. Simply saying it’s hard is a gross understatement, but he would know even a month before the fight if he would be completely clean come fight time.

    As his friend, it’s admirable of you to stand up for him, but if Karo truly wants to salvage a bit of respect from his dwindling fan base, he should really be making these articles himself. I honestly hope he gets everything he needs, but he doesn’t deserve to be in the octagon for the time being.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  • moosebaby02 says:

    really it took him up to two days before the fight to realize that he should back out of a fight that he knew that he would fail the drug test on ?????
    im not going to lie i dealt with this as well in high school……please get well Karo you need all the help you can get

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7

  • paddiosf says:

    When i first read the headline Karo was dropped from the UFC I have to admit I was like “Good” but after reading this article , I shouldnt rush to judgement, we all have our own set of personel issues we sometimes deal with.. Brother had a substance abuse issues years ago and I had to educate myself on the addiction and why it happens to some and not others..I have compassion for Karo and I hope he deals with his addiction and get his life back together and becomes sober..One thing we can say about Dana is he has a forgiving heart and brought back Tito after a bitter fued, Couture and many others..I think he’ll get another chance being in the UFC once he can prove his soberity..

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  • bigbadjohn says:

    He must have realized he couldn’t find any possible masking agent yesterday and freaked. Good for Dana though, Strike 2, he’s out of here.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 19

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Weak-Sauce. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 20

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Hey everybody! Guess what!? The UFC event you will most likely be watching on Saturday has been brought to you by:

    Years of hard work, dedication and smart business decisions made by none other than Dana White (with backing from the Fertitas). And believe this, the SF event we all took in a couple weeks back would never have come to be without the UFC.

    So… if Dana’s the devil, then we are all worshippers. Even if you don’t like him personally, his agenda is to bring this wonderful sport to mainstream fruition and he is, successfully. So if you are against Dana for his use of words, outcrys and lack of tact while aware of his integral role in the development of this sport and his continued efforts to see the UFC be as competitive and esteemed as other “big leagues” then you, my friend, are not what I would consider to be a legitimate MMA fan.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 15

  • GassedOut says:

    Karo, I don’t know if you read these things. You need to get to a treatment facility. Doing this on your own will be impossible, and you’ve just discovered that. There will be some in your area. They are listed in the yellow pages under addiction treatment facilities. This is really important. Do it today. Karo, you’re a fighter. This is just another fight, and it’s one you can win. You have to win. Fight this one. Win this one. Please do it for yourself. If you know Karo and are reading this, get him there. He needs professional help. It’s available. Do it for him. Do it now.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  • cere says:

    Dana needs to man up and help Karo get into rehab. Fighters have a hard time getting medical insurance, if they can get it at all. Rehab is expensive.

    They UFC likes to say how they help out their fighters with medical expenses. Well, here is a guy that has given a ton of himself over to the UFC…body and soul. And now, because of what fighting and training has done to his body, he has an addiction.

    Dana was instantly willing to send Brock to the most expensive hospitals in the world to get treatment for an issue that was in no way caused by his time in the UFC. Granted, he is a huge draw for them, but he has four fights in the UFC. Whereas Karo has 12 fights and 6 years with them and his medical issue is directly related to his time fighting in the UFC.

    Dana: pay for Karo to get treatment and give him a second chance once he is clean.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 17

  • Beau Fury says:

    I’m not big on Karo. I mean I really don’t like him. I think he is a cocky prick. With that being said I aggree with cere. I think Dana needs to step in and help Karo out. I mean look at what he did for Rampage when he went on a Rampage! I mean at least Karo didn’t put innocent people in danger. And as far as Dana’s comments on twitter talking about how Karo kept coming to him with excuses and such… well what do you call what happened with Rampage? I for one thought the “energy drinks and lack of sleep” excuse pretty lame. Now I am a fan of Rampage but what he did was imo worse than Karo dropping out of his fight. I mean it sucks for the UFC but lets face it, its not gonna kill the show.

    However, I do think it was kinda dick of Karo to wait till the last minute to pull out of the fight. It’s not fair to the UFC, his opponent or the fans. Hey Karo, here’s an idea, if you are addicted to pain meds maybe you should go and get help for that instead of taking fights and then pulling out at the last second.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  • slayer6 says:

    While it can often be so easy to point the finger at what can be perceived to be the bad guy, often times the “bad guy” is nothing more than a man being tormented by demons and forces seemingly beyond his personal control.

    that was the best line in this whole article. im currently addicted to opiates, and getting of them isnt an easy thing to do. i wish Karo luck, he always is exciting in the octagon.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    OK so he isn’t the devil.
    “So if you are against Dana for his use of words, outcrys and lack of tact while aware of his integral role in the development of this sport and his continued efforts to see the UFC be as competitive and esteemed as other “big leagues” then you, my friend, are not what I would consider to be a legitimate MMA fan”

    So I can’t dislike Dana and love MMA??? So I can’t think that Dana firing from the hip and showing no prior thought to outbursts and the putting down of fighters is bad and love MMA??? so I can’t think that the UFC not allowing fighters to fight other non UFC fighters is bad and not love MMA???

    What a totaly stupid thing to say. Not only does it make no sense at all but people agree with you????? why do you think I’m saying these things???? Because the UFC is screwing me and you out of MMA fights between non-UFC and UFC fighters and Dana white is a detructive divisive character that is now doing damage to MMA and not helping it (I believe).

    If Dana saying that Karo f#cked the UFC and he will never ever fight in the UFC is what you want the President of a sporting venture to say instead of saying something like
    “…due to the relaps in Karo Parisyan’s addiction to opiate pain killers he will no longer be participating in this weekends UFC event and has been suspendede indefinately. He has let himself the UFC and the fans down and although we realize addiction is serious and wish Karo a speedy recovery,we wish he or one of his camp could of come forward ealier so we could of hepled Karo and avoided this situation.”
    God help MMA.
    You forget that Pride, rings, Shooto, Pancrase etc were huge from the late 90s too. If you beleive Dana is doing a good job and should be representing MMA with the word F#ck and childish hissy fits cuz he didn’t get his way great! but don’t tell me because I think Dana is a bad influence on MMA at the moment I am not an MMA fan. What sense does that make?? So he can do whatever he wants and I am supposed to just agree? Baaa you are a sheep and will follow Dana to the ends of the earth for his attempt to monopolize MMA for the sake of $$$$ not the good of MMA, he had his time but that time is done. If he is so great why did he not allow Gomi v Penn, Couture v Fedor, Silva v Jones Jr or any of the fights us fans want to see. If you think the UFC is going to take over MMA I have no idea what in the last 10 years of the MMA world give you that impression, perhaps it has been the rising up of Pride, Affliction, M1, Adrenalin, Dream, IFC, Elite, Strikeforce, etc etc. If the UFC folded today would all the fighters disapear???? No they would fight for another org and more than likely beable to fight each other without Dana and the UFC stopping them because they don’t get any money or benifit from it.
    Dana is a polarising figure that DIVIDES the MMA landscape, he DOES NOT UNIFY IT! you must agree on that. We need a guy who can represent MMA with integrity and poise not hissy fits and rude words. You wont agree but deep down you know I’m right. I mean it is that way for EVERY OTHER MAJOR SPORTING ORG IN THE WORLD.

    Agree or Disagree: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

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