Razmik Papikyan has accomplished quite a bit in his young athletic career, but the 22-year-old Yerevan native is hungry for more success.
The wrestler had an incredible 2021 season, winning a silver medal in the 2021 European Under-23 Championship in the 61 kilogram division. He has his sights set for bigger and better accolades in the new year, namely becoming world wrestling champion and transitioning to a mixed-martial arts career.
Papikyan began wrestling at the age of seven. Both his father and uncle were wrestlers, and they introduced Papikyan to the sport when he was a child. He excelled, winning a silver medal at the 2016 European Under-18 Championships along with two gold medals in the Armenian Championships in 2020 and 2021.
Papikyan will have a shot at reaching his childhood dream of becoming world champion later this year at the 2022 World Wrestling Championships in Serbia. Until then, he wants to pursue the more-lucrative sport of MMA, which comes with its own set of challenges.
“The most difficult thing is that I haven’t been trained in all of the disciplines in MMA,” Papikyan told the Weekly. “Wrestling is one individual discipline. MMA has many different disciplines — boxing, jiu jitsu, grappling, wrestling, karate — and you need to have some experience in all of them, but my strength is wrestling. Being a good wrestler in MMA is very helpful.”
Papikyan plans to make his MMA debut in the coming months. He is fully aware he needs to improve on some of his weaknesses if he wants to excel in the cage.
“I haven’t mastered boxing,” Papikyan said. “I’m going to work on it with trainers who say that I’ll improve, but I haven’t really started training yet.”
Despite this deficiency, Papikyan knows there is precedence of mixed-martial arts fighters with wrestling backgrounds reaching the pinnacle, like his athletic idol: undefeated retired UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I don’t compare myself to him, but in MMA, when I watch — I watch him a lot, and I’m very interested in him because his strength in MMA is wrestling. Like him, I need to stress my wrestling when I train in MMA because that’s going to be my strength.”