Another packed weekend for name fighters on the regional circuits, especially in Europe. Let's jump right in.
At England's Cage Warriors 68 this Saturday, Che Mills (16-7-0) took his first win since September of 2012, scoring a first-round rear-naked choke of Lee Barnes (12-14-0, 1 NC). Mills went 2-1-0 (1NC) in the UFC, his last fight a loss to Matt Riddle that was officially ruled a no-contest after Riddle tested positive for my cool older cousin's wacky fun-time cigarettes.
A pair of upsets topped the Cage Warriors card, beginning with Bellator and Sengoku veteran Ronnie Mann (23-7-1), who succumbed to a second-round rear-naked choke from Marcelo Costa (9-2-1). Mann participated in Bellator's 2011 featherweight tournament, losing to eventual champion Pat Curran. He went 3-3 with the promotion overall. Costa, for his part, is unbeaten in six fights. His win against Mann follows a unanimous decision victory over long-time WEC and UFC veteran Damacio Page.
And in the opening round of their main event fight, Jim Wallhead (25-9-0) fell to Danny Roberts (11-1-0) in a KO that came with seconds left before the bell. Wallhead is 2-2 since his last Bellator fight. Roberts, meanwhile, has won five straight, four of which have ended within the distance.
Also in England this weekend, under the All or Nothing banner, former TUF finalist Andre Winner (19-8-1, 2-5 UFC) fought his way through three bouts in a single night to become the lightweight tournament champion. That's one way to put a win streak together. The wins came against Jordan Miller (8-14-0), Steven Martin (3-2-0), and Artem Lobov (9-8-0, 1 NC).
Meanwhile, in Sweden...
TUF 8 champion Efrain Escudero (22-8-0, 3-4 UFC) became the Superior Challenge lightweight champion with a TKO victory (only the second of his career) over Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (22-9-1). Escudero rebounds from his unanimous decision loss to Dakota Cochrane and moves to 4-2 over the last twelve months.
Also on the card, UFC veterans Besam Yousef (6-4-0, 0-2 UFC) and David Bielkheden (19-12-0, 1-2 UFC) went the distance in their welterweight contest, with Bielkheden emerging victorious. After consecutive losses to Marcus Davis and current TUF hopeful Cathal Pendred, Bielkheden has won two straight. Yousef is 0-2 since his exit from the UFC last year and is, after beginning his career with six straight wins, now in the midst of a four-fight skid.
And earlier in the night, Brazilian Alan Carlos (11-8-0) blitzed countryman Daniel Acacio (30-15-0) for an upset KO. Acacio--who went 2-1 in Pride and has faced the likes of Paul Daley, Kazuo Misaki, and Mamed Khalidov during his lengthy career--has lost two in a row. As for Carlos, this is easily the biggest win of his career, and it brings his record since 2012 to 4-1.
Finally, under curiously titled Brazilian promotion The Hill Fighters, Japanese MMA great Akihiro Gono (33-19-8, 1-2 UFC, 6-2 Pride) handed Eduardo Garvon (4-1-1) the first loss of his young career. Gono, who fought at lightweight this weekend, acquitted himself well in a pair of improbable bouts in Pride with Shogun Rua and Dan Henderson. More impressive, however, are his wins over current UFC dreadnoughts Gegard Mousasi (by arm bar) and Hector Lombard (by decision) in the promotion's final middleweight tournament. The win over Garvon is the first since 2010 for Gono, who is nearly 40 years old.
And in the night's co-main event, Alexandre Franca Nogueira (18-6-3, 0-1 WEC) put the heel hook to Denison Silva (8-9-0) for his forth consecutive victory. Before the advent of the Zuffa-owned WEC, "Pequeno" was considered one of best featherweights in the world, plying his trade mainly in Japanese organization Shooto. When he finally did appear stateside, it was against Jose Aldo (who was himself making his WEC debut). After a follow-up loss to Takeshi Inoue, Nogueira stepped away from competition for nearly three years. He's gone 5-0-1 since his return in 2012.
Unfortunately, no footage was to be found for this weekend's action, but here are a couple of Nogueira fights from the glory that was the post-millenial Japanese MMA scene.