Every weekend, all around the world, fighters whose names you once saw on the fight cards of the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, and even Pride continue to throw down. Outside MMA's bright lights, young prospects are looking to put together a win streak en route to a second UFC campaign, industry vets are riding out the end of their careers in smaller promotions, and faded Top 10 fighters are struggling to regain a foothold. I've always been interested in the course fighters' careers take outside the big show, and maybe you are too. So here we are!
Early in the weekend, at Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 15, former Top 10 heavyweight Brett Rogers (14-7-0) dropped a unanimous decision to Konstantin Erokhin (6-1-0). Rogers peaked with a TKO of Andre Arlovski, the tenth victory of his undefeated career. However, following his entrance into the division's top ranks, brutal losses to Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem, combined with an ugly reputation stemming from news of domestic abuse, seemed to derail Rogers's career. In 2012 he split a pair of bouts in Bellator, and has since then gone 2-2 as a journeyman.
At XFC International 3 in Sao Paolo, Luis Santos (60-9-1) delivered a front kick knockout to Alfredo Morales (11-4-0) early in the third round. Santos entered the Bellator welterweight tournament in 2011 with an astounding record and an equal amount of hype. However, an initial victory over Dan Hornbuckle gave way to submission and TKO losses to Ben Saunders and Ryan Ford, respectively. Santos is 6-0 since his exit from Bellator, including a win over UFC castoff Shamar Bailey.
At Ruff 12, in Shanghai China, Azamat Gashimov (8-3-0) beat Zhenhong Lu (5-2-0) by unanimous decision. The victory is Gashimov's first since being cut from the UFC last spring following a winless two-fight tenure with the promotion--Gashimov had been submitted by Ivan Menjivar and TKO'd by John Lineker.
Finally, last Saturday's Pancrase 257 saw plenty of familiar fighters put in work, some faring better than others.
Early in the evening, Shungo Oyama (14-17) snapped a four-fight losing streak with a first-round heel hook of the unheralded Handong Kong (0-3, 1 nc). At 39 years old, Oyama has had a surprisingly lengthy career, especially considering that he rose to prominence in Pride as a punching bag for the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, and Cro Cop. Nevertheless, the tenacious Oyama has also scored improbable victories over Renzo Gracie, Carlos Newton, and Denis Kang.
Elsewhere on the card, one-time UFC veteran Leandro Silva (14-1-1) took a unanimous decision over Yoshiaki Takahashi (10-5-2). Silva is 3-0 since a loss to Ildemar Alcantara saw him exit the UFC last June.
Dream veteran Atsushi Yamamoto (17-8-3) suffered a first round TKO loss to Kiyotaka Shimizu (14-9-3) by soccer kicks (ah, the sweet, sweet soccer kick). The loss halts Yamamoto's winning streak at two, while Shimizu, conversely, halts a two-fight skid.
And, if the victory for Oyama didn't get you all misty-eyed, the good news continues for the Japanese old guard, with Yuki Kondo (57-28-9) taking a majority decision over Masayuki "Berserker" Naruse, whose excellent nickname cannot save him from a dispiriting 6-14-0 record. A long-time staple of Pancrase, Kondo also had a lengthy run in Pride and, before that, in the turn-of-the-century UFC. Though he didn't manage a winning record in either promotion, Kondo has contended with some of the best of his generation, including Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva, and Igor Vovchanchyn.
In the headliner Kuniyoshi Hironaka (22-9-0) succumbed in the third round to soccer kicks from Isao Kobayashi (15-1-4). Hironaka went 1-3 during his time with the UFC, getting matched up with both Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves in a hellacious first year with the promotion. Prior to his loss on Saturday, Hironaka had won six straight, including wins over Kotesu Boku and Carlo Prater. Now 37 years old and on the heels of a TKO loss, one has to assume that his career is very nearly concluded. Kobayashi, meanwhile, seems to be on an opposite trajectory. Ten of his fifteen wins have come inside the distance, he hasn't lost in four years, and during that time he avenged his lone defeat to Koji Oishi and dusted UFC lightweight Kazuki Tokudome--it seems like Kobayashi ought to be showing up on a UFC undercard sooner rather than later.