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Beyond the Octagon: UFC vets, plus the only man to beat Jose Aldo returns

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Heavy action from the regional circuit this weekend, which includes embattled featherweight George Sotiropoulos's first fight outside the UFC in over seven years and the the continuing adventures of Minowaman.

Sotiropoulos (right) in his last UFC fight, versus K.J. Noons
Sotiropoulos (right) in his last UFC fight, versus K.J. Noons
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

A packed weekend on the regionals began this Friday with RFA 17 where, in the headliner, former TUF contestant Dakota Cochrane (17-6-0) faced Christos Giagos (10-2-0) for the promotion's lightweight title. Cochrane, who has beaten UFC veterans Efrain Escudero, Joe Stevenson, and Anton Kuivanen, the lattermost by knee strike, would himself succumb to a knee from Giagos. The finish came in the second round when Giagos countered a jab from Cochrane with a bold flying knee that landed flush on the jaw. Follow-up strikes ended Cochrane's night for good. Giagos has now won four in a row, all by TKO or submission. Cochrane, meanwhile, loses for the first time this year after his wins over Escudero and Kuivanen.

Giagos's finish of Cochrane can be seen here.

Also on the card, TUF 15 contestant and UFC veteran Justin Lawrence (6-2, 1-2 UFC) moved to 2-0 since his release from the UFC in 2013. The win this Friday came by unanimous decision over Mark Dickman (9-2-0), who was riding a four-fight win streak into this weekend's bout.

And in the headliner of Titan FC 29, TUF 16 runner-up Mike Ricci (10-4, 1-2 UFC) continued his winning ways post-Octagon with a unanimous decision win over George Sotiropoulos (14-7, 7-4 UFC). Ricci exited the UFC following a split-decision loss to Myles Jury in September 2013. He's 2-0 since then, with a win over Jorge Gurgel preceding his victory this weekend. Sotiropoulos, meanwhile, has now lost five in a row. The lengthy slump, which stretches back to 2011 and began with a unanimous decision loss Dennis Siver, followed a seven-fight win streak in the UFC that ran from 2008 to 2010 and which nearly put Sotiropoulos into title contention. The loss to Ricci was his first fight outside the UFC in over seven years.

Ricci vs. Sotiropoulos is here. That link is for Round 1. Links to subsequent rounds can be found on the sidebar.

In the evening's co-main event, Kurt Holobaugh (13-2, 0-1 UFC, 0-1 Strikeforce) made short work of Lloyd Woodard (13-5, 2-3 Bellator), starching the Bellator vet with a back-pedaling counter right mere seconds into the opening round. Holobaugh, who fought Steven Siler to a unanimous decision loss at UFC 159 in April 2013, is 4-0 since his return to the regionals. Woodard is 1-2 since he was last seen in Bellator.

Holobaugh vs. Woodard here. Fight starts at 3:20.

There was lots of success to be had by UFC veterans throughout the event, with Bristol Marunde (14-9, 0-1 Strikeforce, 1-3 IFL) notching a unanimous decision win over Micah Miller (19-7, 0-1 Dream, 2-2 WEC). Marunde, cut from the UFC following an 0-2 stretch that saw him (T)KO'd both times, is 2-0 this year. The submission savvy Miller, younger brother to Cole Miller, is 1-1 this year.

Further down the card, Bellator Fightmaster runner-up Mike Bronzoulis submitted to a rear-naked choke by the surging Keith Johnson (10-2-0). Bronzoulis is 0-3 since his time on Bellator's reality show. Johnson, meanwhile, has won five in a row, four by submission.

And earlier in the night, former UFC middleweight Dustin Jacoby (10-3, 0-2 UFC 0-1 WSOF) moved up to light-heavyweight to take on Strikeforce veteran Lucas Lopes (29-18, 2-1 Strikeforce). The move would prove fruitful for Jacoby, who finished Lopes with punches late in the first round.

Footage of the finish can be seen here.

Big action out of Japan's Inoki Genome Federation, where Mirko Filipovic (29-11-2, 4-6 UFC, 20-4 Pride) defeated Olympian Satoshi Ishii (12-3-1) by TKO (doctor's stoppage) mid-way through the second. With the win, Filipovic rebounds from a 2013 loss to current UFC heavyweight Oleksiy Oliynyk and moves to 2-1 since disappointing run in the UFC. Ishii, meanwhile, sees his lengthy win-streak halted at eight. The last time he lost was on New Year's Eve 2011, by TKO to Fedor Emelianenko.

Cro Cop vs. Ishii can be found here. Action starts at 7:30.

In the co-man event, in an upset loss, Ikuhisa Minowa (60-37-8) took on unheralded Shinichi Suzukawa (1-2-0). Minowa, a.k.a. The Punk, a.k.a. Minowaman, whose career stretches back to 1996, and who posted a 10-8 mark Pride (and, actually, a 1-0 record in the UFC thanks to a TKO win over one Joe Slick at UFC 25) has made a habit of taking on inexperienced but over-sized opposition. It's a career move that has yielded up its share of thrilling victories, but also unexpected, embarrassing defeats, as was the case this weekend. Early in the second, Minowa seemed to injure his leg off a kick to Suzukawa's thigh and, once hobbled, succumbed to the strikes of the previously winless heavyweight.

Suzukawa vs. Minowa, Round 1, is here. Round 2 on the sidebar.

Also on the card, heavyweight prospect Chris Barnett improved to 10-1-0 with a second-round TKO of Travis Wiuff (73-19-0). Barnett turned heads with early-career TKO wins over hardened veterans Kenny Garner and Mario Rinaldi. Unfortunately, injuries kept him out of action for 2012 through 2013. He returned to competition this past February, though, and is 3-0 this year. As for the well-traveled UFC and IFL veteran Wiuff, he sees his win streak snapped at five, falling to 4-1 this year.

Barnett vs. Wiuff begins here.

Also in Japan, at DEEP 68, submission specialist Masakazu Imanari (28-13-2, 4-3 Dream, 1-2 Pride) did what he does best, finishing Chan Jung Park (3-4-0) via heel hook in less than half a minute. The win is Imanari's first of 2014 and snaps a two-fight losing streak.

And on the main card, Michihiro Omigawa (14-14-1, 4-1 Sengoku, 2-0 Dream, 1-6 UFC, 0-1 Pride) found his first victory in nearly three years thanks to a first-round armbar of Peter Cepeda (1-2-0). Omigawa has been extremely hot and cold throughout his career, with a pair of fairly disastrous UFC runs book-ending a star-making run in Dream and Sengoku, which saw the stone-faced Omigawa climb the ranks thanks in large part to an unexpected run through the Sengoku featherweight tournament. The win over Cepeda snaps a four-fight losing streak.

And Kazunori Yokota (21-5-3, 5-3 Sengoku) further entrenched himself as DEEP's featherweight kingpin, submitting Yusuke Kagiyama (16-10-2) with a kimura in the first round. It is Yokota's ninth win in a row.

Jumping over to Brazil, Circuito Talent de MMA 11, which featured Jennifer Maia 9-3-1, 1-1 Invicta) versus Elaine Albuquerque. After three rounds, it was Maia who was awarded the judges' decision. Maia, who's beaten Zoila Frausto-Gurgel and current UFC bantamweight Jessica Andrade, moves to 2-0 this year. Albquerque, who previously bested Carina Damm, falls to 2-2 during that same time.

And finally, at Shooto Brazil 49, Luciano Azevedo (19-9-1, 0-1 Pride) returned to competition for the first time in over four years. Azevedo, who has wins over UFC fighters Milton Vieira, Din Thomas, and Rodrigo Damm, and who is the only person to ever beat Jose Aldo, would enjoy a successful return, beating Alejandro Solano (19-11-0) by unanimous decision.