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Beyond the Octagon: Mixed results for UFC vets Jeff Monson and Motonobu Tezuka

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This weekend, Jeff Monson stumbled in his latest attempt at a second consecutive win, while Motonobu Tezuka made some noise on the Japanese circuit. Plus, must-see, knock-down, drag-out action from Russia featuring Bellator vet Vyacheslav Vasilevsky.

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An expected bout between Tim Sylvia and Christian Morecraft fell apart following injuries to both fighters, but it was a busy weekend on the regionals nonetheless.

On Thursday, at Coalizao Fight 3 in Belem, Brazil, would-be UFC heavyweight Geronimo Dos Santos returned to action after more than two years spent on the sidelines. Also known as "Mondragon," Dos Santos was signed to the UFC in 2012, but his promotional debut was cancelled following a positive test for Hepatitis B. Medical treatment and paperwork have suspended his career, until this weekend, anyway, when he took on Diogo Silveira (6-8-0). Dos Santos made up for lost time, dispatching Silveira with strikes thirty seconds into the first round. He's now won twelve in a row, with an overall record of 34-14-0. One imagines that, following this tune-up fight, he'll be brought back to the UFC as soon as they can confirm his health.

And at Fight Stars out of Saransk, Russia, Jeff Monson (50-20-1) took on local favorite Dmitry Titkov, who was making his professional debut. Monson was predictably eager for the takedown, showing an explosive shot early in the fight. Titkov, however, was able to sprawl away and, with superior reach, he very quickly established a steady program of jabs and straights. Monson, meanwhile, had trouble finding his range on the feet and was never able to work his stifling top game. By the end of the fight, the former UFC title contender's left eye was bloodied and swollen, and Titkov had earned himself a unanimous decision victory. Monson, who just last weekend snapped a four-fight losing streak, now falls to 2-5 in the last two years.

Titkov vs. Monson can be seen here.

Former M-1 heavyweight champion Kenny Garner had a better go of it this weekend when he took on Matt Kovacs in the HOF main event in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday. A second-round armbar sealed the deal for Garner, who was fighting outside of M-1 for the first time in three years. During his tenure with the Russia-based organization, Garner used potent striking to turn away not one, but two well-regarded prospects in Maxim Grishin and Guram Gugenishvili. 2013 would, however, signal the the start of a four-fight losing streak for Garner, but with the win this weekend (his first in over two years) Garner rights ship and improves to 13-7-0. Kovacs falls to 11-12-0.

Also this weekend, former UFC fighter Motonobu Tezuka (23-8-5) went on a tear through HEAT 33's one-night, four-man bantamweight tournament, dispatching Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha (9-4-4) and Kazuma Sone (14-11-0) with an arm-triangle choke and an armbar, respectively. Tezuka, who went 0-2 in the UFC, has struggled to find success since his release from the organization in early 2013. Cutting a path of destruction through a one-night tournament isn't a bad way to make a statement, though. With his victories this weekend, Tezuka wins consecutive fights for the first time in over two years and improves his post-UFC record to 4-2-1.

Finally, at M-1 Challenge 51, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (25-2, 1-1 Bellator) took on champion Ramazan Emeev (11-3-0) for the middleweight title. Both fighters displayed potent offense, brutalizing each other at range, in the clinch, and on the ground. By the fourth round, Emeev's left eye was badly swollen, Vasilevsky was cut and bleeding from his nose, and both had had their jaws severely tested. In the closing seconds of the round, however, Vasilevsky took over, backing Emeev into a corner and where he unloaded with a barrage of hooks and uppercuts that left the referee with no choice but to step in and rescue the incumbent champion. Vasilevksy is now 8-0 since his last, losing effort in Bellator, with seven of those wins coming within the distance. Emeev, meanwhile, suffers defeat for the first time in four years and sees his own win streak halted at eight.

Vasilevsky vs. Emeev can be seen here. Highly recommended.