It's been a solid weekend of fights all around, with a climactic UFC on Fox 14 topping off some good action on the regional circuit, beginning with New Jersey mainstay Ring of Combat, which hosted its 50th event last Friday.
In the evening's main event, Kurt Pellegrino protege and The Ultimate Fighter 12 veteran Jeff Lentz moved up from featherweight to take on George Sheppard (15-9-0) for the promotion's vacant lightweight title. Lentz, who submitted to Alex Caceres in the opening round of the TUF 12 tournament, was able to shrug off the two straight split-decision losses that dogged him into the ring and take home a unanimous decision victory. Lentz, who is 4-3-1 since his appearance on TUF, improves his overall record to 10-4-1.
Also on the card, Phillipe Nover (10-5-1, 0-3 UFC, 2-1 Bellator) looked to keep his win-streak alive against Dan Cion (4-2-0).
Coming out of TUF, Nover was somewhat inexplicably dubbed "The Next Anderson Silva" by UFC president Dana White, and while he would manage to fight his way into the finals for a bout with Efrain Escudero, Nover's UFC career would hardly measure up to the hype; three straight losses, including a surprising TKO loss to Kyle Bradley, would see him out of the UFC in early 2010. After a near-two-year hiatus from competition, however, Nover returned, and he's done fairly well for himself since. After alternating wins and losses (defeats by narrow split and majority decision to Polish prospect Marcin Held and current UFC lightweight Tony Martin, respectively), Nover has won three straight, the last of which came on Friday, when he submitted Cion with a rear-naked choke early in Round 2. Nover is 5-2 since his last appearance in the UFC.
And on Saturday, at the latest Dakota FC event, another TUF 12 veteran made a successful return to competition when Dane Sayers (12-3-0) bested Clarence Jordan (7-1-0) by unanimous decision. Sayers competed as a lightweight on TUF, but has fought as high as middleweight since his appearance on the show, during which time he's gone 5-2. As for Jordan, the loss ties off a recent winning streak at five.
A short jog south, at Sparta Combat League 40 in Denver, Colorado, Brian Camozzi, brother to former UFC middleweight Chris Camozzi, challenged undefeated champion Matt Cox for the promotion's welterweight title. Camozzi kept it short and sweet, locking up an armbar mid-way through Round 1. He improves to 4-2 with the win, all of those victories coming by TKO or submission. Cox falls to 4-1-0.
Meanwhile, over in Oklahoma, Sugar Creek Showdown 40 hosted the well-traveled journeyman and former KOTC champion Tony Lopez (36-17-0, 0-1 Bellator), who squared off with Jesse Hernandez (6-1-0) in the heavyweight main event. The 41-year-old Lopez went 2-7 between 2013 and 2014, but got the new year off to a good start a couple weeks ago with a first-round TKO of novice Cortrail Meadows. Experience would win out again this weekend, with Lopez submitting Hernandez by arm-triangle choke in Round 2. Lopez has now won consecutive bouts for the first time in nearly three years.
Last but certainly not least, in the main event of Shooto: Season Opener in Tokyo, Japan, all-time great Caol Uno put his lengthy win-streak on the line against Yoshifumi Nakamura, a prospect 13 years his junior, in a contest for the organization's lightweight title.
From 2008 through 2012, Uno went 2-6-1, including a disappointing 0-2-1 run in the UFC, which seemed to presage the end of his storied career. However, 2013 saw Uno rebound dramatically, with the former UFC contender winning six in a row while engendering hope among hardcore fans for another return to the UFC. That talk, unfortunately, may be quieted somewhat after Sunday's bout, which Uno lost by unanimous decision. With this defeat, Uno's record now stands at 32-17-5. The 26-year-old Nakamura--who, for the sake of perspective, was in something like second grade when Caol Uno made his MMA debut--improves to 18-5-0 with five straight victories.