Having been in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and beyond to the tune of 20 mixed-martial-arts bouts in addition to far too many jiu jitsu competitions to number, Alberto Crane still comes off as very much a calm and cool customer, with an easy, soft-spoken and mild-mannered personality.
That's when he's not cornering Jared "The Jackhammer" Papazian, though.
"Jared doesn't make it easy," says Glendale's Crane, who trains Papazian at Gracie Barra Burbank. "He's always fight of the night, whether it's a small show or the [Ultimate Fighting Championship]."
On the roller-coaster ride that's been his rise to the UFC stage, one would be hard-pressed to find a bout that's been easy for Papazian, that wasn't nailbiting for his corner and, perhaps most importantly, wasn't thrilling for those in the seats around the cage.
"He's an extremely entertaining fighter," says Papazian's manager and cornerman Darin Harvey. "He never makes it easy on us. You never know what's gonna happen."
Nobody's sure just exactly what's going to happen when Papazian (14-7) enters the octagon on Friday to face off with Dustin Pague (10-5) live on Fuel TV as part of the UFC on FX 3 live preliminary card at the Bank Atlantic Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. But Papazian does offer up at least one assurance.
"As long as he comes in bangin', I'll come in bangin' and I know we'll have another fight of the night," he says.
As a trip to Florida and a second fight under the bright UFC lights draws near, the only fight and the only fighter Jared Papazian is looking for is Dustin Pague. Indeed, much has changed since a scrap with 10 guys fortuitously began his MMA days.
"I got jumped by 10 guys," says Papazian, an El Camino Real High product who still makes the trek from West Hills to Burbank everyday. "I started training at 17 years old, just to learn to fight, not to get into it, but it became a passion."
It was a passion that quickly became a professional career, but one seemingly on the fast track to being that of a journeyman. On the regional Southern California circuit, Papazian was quickly thrown into fights in which he was overmatched, he never fought for a promotion more than once and he was developing a reputation as a guy who talked a lot of trash.
"I had a manager that didn't care. I had a manager that just took money," Papazian says. "I didn't really have a home gym or anything."
One example of Papazian's early tribulations came when he signed on to fight Karen Darabedyan, a young Glendale fighter known for his all-around skills. While Papazian was 2-0 and Darabedyan was 3-1, the latter still had far more fighting experience to his name. Still, that didn't stop Papazian from throwing plenty of smack the way of Darabedyan.
"He's changed a lot," says Darabedyan, who's now friends with Papazian and has trained with him often. "Back then, when all of this happened, I didn't know him. He talked a lot of trash.
"From the person I saw at the weigh-ins and before the fight to the person I know now, he's changed  degrees."
Papazian was submitted by Darabedyan in the first round and was submitted in his next bout as well. He then won two straight, before losing two straight, as his career had begun to ebb and flow. But things had begun to change for the better, as Papazian got rid of his first manager and Harvey took over the navigation of his career in 2009.
One of Harvey's first acts was to introduce Papazian to Crane, a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt and former world champion who currently owns a 15-5 MMA record and is a two-time former UFC veteran.
"I knew he needed to work on his jiu jitsu," Harvey says. "I saw that he had the heart, he just didn't have the skills. Now he does and he's only getting better."
Crane's first impression of Papazian was much the same.
"He was a stand-up [fighter], he had no ground," Crane says. "He didn't have the right people around him."