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Beyond the Octagon: Leonard Garcia, plus UFC vets Nakamura and Tezuka

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Your weekly look at what big-show veterans and notable journeymen are up to on the regional circuit.

UFC vet Leonard Garcia
UFC vet Leonard Garcia
USA TODAY Sports

Kicking things off this week, in the main event of M-1 Global's Steel Battle, is Viktor Nemkov, who was looking to rebound from a split-decision loss to Stephan Puetz last March. The 27-year-old light-heavyweight did indeed emerge victorious, albeit against an extremely over-matched opponent in Beksot Jiyanov. Nemkov, who put Jiyanov away with strikes in the first, improves his record to 20-5-0, while Jiyanov's stands at a scant 0-2-0.

At Legacy FC 33 on Friday, brawler of note Leonard Garcia laid his featherweight title on the line against Damon Jackson. Garcia has shown some improvement since his 2013 release from the UFC and was riding a three-fight win streak (all by stoppage) into his title defense on Friday. Jackson, however, would not be denied , securing the triangle choke a mere 90 seconds into Round 1. The undefeated Jackson improves to 9-0-0, having finished all of his opponents within the distance, favoring submissions by choke. Meanwhile, Garcia, who went 2-7 in the UFC and 4-3-1 in the WEC, sees his overall record fall to 18-12-1. At 35 years old, it's uncertain that Garcia will return to the Octagon, though given his UFC-favored style, it's not inconceivable that he would be brought back in for the Mexico card regardless. Complicating things, though, is the fact that, in an interview with Frank Trigg (seen here) Garcia revealed that he, in fact, already had an offer from the UFC but opted to take the Legacy fight instead because, under the new UFC deal, he would've likely been benched for six months while waiting for a viable opponent to emerge. In general it's a pretty interesting interview, touching a bit on MMA post-Bjorn Rebney and the resulting economic climate.

And in the night's co-main event, former WEC lightweight title challenger Marcus Hicks (10-4-1NC, 3-3 WEC) returned to action against Kamaru Usman (5-1-0) after over two years away from the cage. The return would not, unfortunately, be an easy one for Hicks, who, on the heels of strikes from Usman, could not answer the bell for Round 3.

On Saturday, in the main event of Battle of the Bay 3, Cung Le teammate James Terry (13-7-0, 6-4 Strikeforce) made a successful return to action following his split-decision loss to Rick Reeves in Bellator last April. Terry's latest win comes against Daniel McWilliams (11-25-0), and he's now 3-2 since the close of Strikeforce put him back in the regionals.

Meanwhile, at Japan's GRACHAN 14, UFC vet Motonobu Tezuka (21-8-5, 0-2 UFC) found his first victory of the year. It came against Kensaku Nakamura (13-6-4) in a rematch of their April bout, which had been fought to a draw. The loss is Nakamura's first in four years, while Tezuka moves to 2-2-1 since his exit from the UFC in February of 2013.

Finally, last Sunday, DEEP hosted Cage Impact 2014: Mr. Megaton's Last Fight. In the open-weight main event, well-traveled PRIDE and UFC vet Kazuhiro Nakamura took on Seigo Mizuguchi (13-16-0). The end came at 3:25 of the second round, after a pounding from Nakamura led Mizuguchi's corner to throw in the towel. Since installing himself in DEEP in 2012, Nakamura has gone an impressive 6-1, albeit against frequently underwhelming competition. Nakamura's career highlights include a 11-6 run in PRIDE, where, in a move that could only be called "Oh-God-Why-Are-You-Doing-This-To-Yourself," he had his pro-debut against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. His time in PRIDE would give way to a brief 0-2 run in the UFC and, following that, a 2-2 stretch in Sengoku as well as a retirement bout with his mentor and JMMA legend Hidehiko Yoshida, from which he emerged victorious. With his win over Mizuguchi, Nakamura improves to 21-12-0.