GLENDALE — The following are odds and ends from the local sports scene.
FOR TITLE FIGHT
As Manny Gamburyan enters the biggest fight of his life — tonight's clash for the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight title against champion Jose Aldo in the main event of WEC: Aldo vs. Gamburyan — he does so as a major underdog.
But one advantage he might very well have over Aldo is altitude.
Granted, Aldo (17-1) is 5 foot 7 and Gamburyan (11-4) is two inches shorter, but Gamburyan will fight for the second time in Broomfield, Colo.
"I fought there before, I feel really good," said Gamburyan in a recent conference call in reference to his Ultimate Fighting Championship submission win over Jeff Cox on April 2, 2008, which also took place at the Broomfield Event Center. "The altitude's never really bothered me. I'm ready to go the full five rounds if I have to."
Though he's fought all around the United States in addition to Brazil, England and Japan, Aldo has never fought in Colorado, where the altitude can play havoc with a fighter's breathing and stamina, especially in a potentially five-round title fight.
Gamburyan arrived in Colorado a week before his fight to acclimate himself with the altitude.
"Manny feels great," said George Bastrmajyan, Gamburyan's cutman and co-trainer at Glendale Fighting Club. "We had a great training camp.
"We have put in over 150 rounds of sparring with five [or] six different sparring partners. And with Edmond [Tarverdyan] leading the camp, Manny's striking has improved from his last fight when he KO'd [Mike] Brown."
In addition to training his striking at the Glendale Fighting Club, Gamburyan also trains at the Main Event Gym in Glendale, Team Hayastan in Hollywood, where he works his grappling under Gokor Chivichyan, and SK Golden Boys in Van Nuys, where he works his wrestling. Gamburyan will be cornered by Chivichyan, Tarverdyan, Bastrmajyan and fellow 145-pound mixed martial artist Geogi Karakhanyan.
Both Gamburyan and Aldo weighed in at 145 on the dot on Thursday, making their title showdown official.
The fight will headline WEC's live telecast tonight at 6 p.m. on Versus. It will be televised locally at a viewing party at the OverTime Bar and Grill at 933 N Brand Blvd. from 6 to 8 p.m.
HALEBIAN DOES WELL
Playing against some of the best that NCAA tennis has to offer, USTA junior Alexios Halebian of Glendale fared well at the Napa Valley Tennis Classic, a three-day event that concluded Sunday.
Halebian, though he finished second in his flight, made it to tournament play as an alternate. He lost in the quarterfinals to Kentucky University's Eric Quigley, 12-10.
"I missed an easy forehand that would have given me a game-point," Halebian stated in a USTA press release. "But what can you do? You just try and play it safe and not go for too much."
Quigley would end up advancing to the finals, before finishing as runner-up.
Earlier Sunday, Halebian lost a hard-fought match to Texas' Jean Anderson, 7-6 (3), 6-4, but Anderson had to leave early and Halebian took his spot.
On Saturday, Halebian lost in doubles action, but prevailed in singles play, besting Florida's Nassim Slilam, 6-3, 6-2.
Halebian began classic play with a classic victory over USC's Daniel Nguyen, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-4.
VISIT WHITE HOUSE
As part of the reigning NCAA champion USC men's water polo team, Crescenta Valley High graduate Mason Hawthorne recently took a trip to the White House, as President Obama recognized all of the past year's NCAA champions.
USC had three squads — the men's and women's water polo teams and the men's tennis team — that were honored on Sept. 13.
Hawthorne is a redshirt junior driver for the Trojans.
USC, undefeated at 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country, returns to the pool on Saturday in the SoCal Tournament at UCLA.
LOOKING FOR SNAPS
Flintridge Prep graduate Ramses Barden is once more struggling to get playing time with the New York Giants.
The Giants, who are mired in a two-game slump and will enter a Sunday night matchup this week with the Chicago Bears at 1-2, have seen the likes of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Steve Smith excel in the receiving corps.
And Barden has been left out of the rotation, having played in just one of his team's three games this year, a season-opening win against the Carolina Panthers. He produced no statistics in the game.
During the four-game preseason, he played in just two games, tallying three catches for 21 yards. His only official NFL catch came in last season's finale, as he grabbed a 16-yard pass against the Minnesota Vikings.