(Melanson and Parisyan, before it all fell apart. Props: elitefts.com)
In a new interview with Five Ounces of Pain, Karo Parisyan‘s longtime friend and training partner Neil Melanson confirmed that Parisyan’s latest last-minute fight-cancellation was directly related to the painkiller addiction that has haunted him for years. After Melanson got permission from Karo to go public with the story, he laid it all out:
“Karo’s had some problems with an addiction to pain medicine due to an injury he sustained a few years ago. 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…
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…
My heart goes out to him. 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.”
Please, Karo — no more "plans" to beat your addiction on your own. It just doesn’t work that way. What you need is a board-certified physician and addiction-medicine specialist. Get well soon. For real this time.
Related: Dustin Hazelett reacts to the news that his UFC 106 fight has been cancelled.