Manvel “Manny” Gamburyan (Armenian: Մանվել Գամբուրյան; born May 8, 1981) is an Armenian American mixed martial artist. He was a cast member of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter 5. Besides The Ultimate Fighter, Gamburyan has fought for notable promotions such as King of the Cage and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Gamburyan is fighting in the featherweight division of the UFC and is currently ranked as the #4 Featherweight mixed martial artist in the world by Sherdog.com and #3 by MMAFighting.com.
In May 1991, Gamburyan’s family relocated from Armenia to the United States. Shortly after his arrival, he began training in judo at Gokor Chivichyan’s and Gene LeBell’s Hayastan MMA Academy and quickly became one of the top judoka in the country, winning junior nationals less than two years later. He went on to win junior nationals eight times, the junior Olympics once, and was a member of the 2000 judo junior world team.
Mixed martial arts career
Gamburyan began his career in 1999 at the age of 17. He won his first four fights, then lost a decision to future UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk in 2001. His cousin Karo Parisyan nicknamed him “Pitbull” for the tenacity he displayed in the fight.
The Ultimate Fighter
In 2007, Gamburyan appeared on the reality show The Ultimate Fighter 5, fighting on Jens Pulver’s team. His nickname was changed to “Anvil” for his UFC career because “Pitbull” was already taken by other UFC fighters such as Andrei Arlovski and Thiago Alves.
Gamburyan defeated Noah Thomas by kimura lock in the preliminary round. In his next matchup, Gamburyan defeated Matt Wiman to advance to the semifinal round.
In the semifinal round, Gamburyan beat Joe Lauzon in a unanimous decision and advanced to the finale with Nathan Diaz. He was considered an underdog in each of his fights, in part due to his short stature. After the Lauzon fight, UFC president Dana White personally apologized to Gamburyan for doubting him. In the finale, Gamburyan controlled Diaz for the majority of the fight, but tapped out in the second round after dislocating his right shoulder on an unsuccessful takedown attempt.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Despite losing the show, Gamburyan secured a UFC contract with his performance. He won his next two UFC fights, defeating Nate Mohr by ankle lock at UFC 79 and Jeff Cox by guillotine choke at UFC Fight Night 13.
He was knocked out by Rob Emerson at UFC 87 in the first round.
At UFC 94, Gamburyan lost to Brazilian contender, Thiago Tavares.
World Extreme Cagefighting
After his defeat to Thiago Tavares at UFC 94, Gamburyan decided to drop down to the Zuffa-owned WEC’s featherweight division (145 pounds). His first featherweight fight was a win over John Franchi at WEC 41.
Gamburyan defeated Leonard Garcia on November 18, 2009 at WEC 44 via unanimous decision.
Gamburyan fought former WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown at WEC 48. He won by knockout in the first round as well as getting the Knockout of the night bonus.
Gamburyan lost by knockout to José Aldo in the second round of the WEC Featherweight Championship bout on September 30, 2010 at WEC 51.
On October 28, 2010, World Extreme Cagefighting merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As part of the merger, all WEC fighters were transferred to the UFC.
Gamburyan was expected to face Raphael Assunção on March 19, 2011 at UFC 128, but was forced out of the bout with a back injury and replaced by Erik Koch.
Gamburyan is expected to face Tyson Griffin on June 26, 2011 at UFC on Versus 4.