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Beyond the Octagon: UFC vets Riki Fukuda and Gilbert Smith, plus Tiger Sarnavskiy's flying knee

PRIDE veteran Dong Sik Yoon continues to make the most of his return to MMA, plus a pair of brutal knockouts, in this week's Beyond the Octagon.

In the main event of last Thursday's Tachi Palace Fights 21, Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Ricky Legere Jr. (19-6, 1-0 Bellator, 1-0 Strikeforce) looked to make his first welterweight title defense since capturing the belt this past summer. Challenging him was Max Griffin (10-1-0), whose power would prove too much for Legere. Mid-way through the first, as Legere rushed forward, Griffin caught him with a right hook that seemed to knock him out cold. The ensuing hammer fists on the ground would remove any doubt. It's the first time in over four years that Legere's been the victim of a (T)KO stoppage.

Griffin has now won six in a row, and is 3-0 for the year, including a win over noted brawler Waachiim Spiritwolf. Legere, meanwhile, falls to 1-2 for the year, which includes a loss to Alan Jouban in the latter's last fight before being called up to the UFC.

Griffin vs. Legere can be seen here.

Also on Friday, at One FC 22, Tatsuya Mizuno (13-10, 2-3 Dream) successfully rebounded from a TKO loss last May with a unanimous decision victory over Brayan Rafiq (8-4-0). The middleweight Mizuno, who throughout his career has somehow managed to find himself in bouts with not just Mirko Filipovic but also Sergei Kharitonov, and who also once beat Melvin Manhoef, is 1-1 for the year. Rafiq has lost two in a row.

Further up the card, Luis Santos (61-9-1, 2-2 Bellator) made short work of Bakhtiyar Abbasov (12-4-0), forcing a tap-out due to strikes in the opening minute. Santos had enjoyed a fair amount of hype with his signing by Bellator, thanks in large part to an eye-popping record, but two stoppage losses in a row ultimately sent him back to the regionals in 2012. He's gone 7-0 since then.

At Fight Time 21, Yuri Villefort (6-4, 0-2 UFC, 0-1 Strikeforce) returned to competition for the first time since his release from the UFC last year. He received a rude welcome back to the ring from Chris Bennett, who wrapped up a fight-ending guillotine only fort-five seconds into the fight. It was Bennett's first fight in two years. As for Villefort, he's dropped four in a row dating back to a 2012 loss to Quinn Mulhern in Strikeforce.

RFA 20 played host to a couple of UFC veterans, beginning with Alvin Robinson. Robinson went 1-3 in the UFC from 2007 to 2008, displaying a hyper-aggressive ground game that, while entertaining, left him open to frequent submission losses. This past Friday, however, Robinson would pick up a submission of his own, taking out Fabio Serrao (6-5-0) with a rear-naked choke in Round 1. Robinson is 1-1 for the year and 2-1 since his one-and-done appearance in Bellator in 2012.

Also on the card, Gilbert Smith (10-3, 0-1 UFC) continued to find success on the regional circuit, coming back from being nearly knocked out by a headkick in the first round to earn a majority decision victory over Bojan Velickovic (9-2-0). Smith is 5-1 since the 2013 submission loss to Bubba McDaniel that saw him cut from the UFC. (The lone blemish since then came at the hands of Brian Foster, who exited the UFC on a two-fight win-streak following a brain hemorrhage, and who has been more or less killing it since his return, and I don't know why he's not back in the UFC.)

Highlights from RFA 20 can be viewed here. Robinson vs. Serrao at 1:15, Smith vs. Velickovic immediately after.

And last Saturday, Alexander Sarnavskiy (30-2, 5-2 Bellator) made it five in a row at Russia's FEFoMP: Cup of Friendship(?!). The former Bellator tournament finalist sent opponent Artak Nazaryan (15-5-0) into retreat with a pair of turning back sidekicks before lunging forward with a knee for the first-round knockout. Sarnavskiy is 4-0 for the year, including a submission of Dakota Cochrane in Bellator just last month. He was last defeated in 2013, by current champion Will Brooks.

Tiger vs. Nazaryan can be seen here. The fight starts at 4:45, the finishing sequence at 9:30.


Sunday's Road FC 19 saw the continued resurgence of Dong Sik Yoon (8-8-0, 0-4 PRIDE, 2-3 Dream) who, after a punishing start to his MMA career in 2005 (which saw him face Kazushi Sakuraba, Rampage Jackson, and Murilo Bustamante), went on an improbable four-fight winning streak, which included three-straight armbar victories over Melvin Manhoef, Zelg Galesic, and Fabio Silva. Yoon returned to regular competition in 2013 following three years away from MMA, rattling off two stoppage victories before falling to Riki Fukuda this past summer. He'd manage to avoid a second straight loss this Sunday, posting a unanimous decision victory over Amilcar Alves (15-6, 0-2 UFC). Yoon is 3-1 since his return to competition. Alves is 4-3 since his release from the UFC in 2011.

Despite the thunderous and no doubt stirring triumph of Dong Sik Yoon, Road FC 19 would end with a whimper, perhaps literally.

In the headlining bout, Riki Fukuda (21-7, 2-3 UFC) brought a pause to the action with an accidental kick to the groin of Dool Hee Lee (8-7-0). Lee would shake it off but, upon the restart, Fukuda would resume his vendetta against Lee's crotch, landing a knee that ended the fight for good. It was ruled officially as a no-contest. Fukuda is 2-0 (1NC) for the year, undefeated since his release from the UFC in 2013. Lee hasn't fought since his 2012 upset victory over Ryo Kawamura.