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Beyond the Octagon: UFC vets go 5-2, "Cuddly Bear" defends title

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A look at how big-show veterans are faring on the regional circuit.

Sure, the UFC's Bantamweight Title is being contended this weekend. But perhaps what YOU want to know is "What about the Prize FC Heavyweight Championship?" Well, I'll tell you.

At last Friday's Prize FC 12 out of Denver, Colorado, local favorite Joshua Copeland (11-2, 0-2 UFC) took a three-round unanimous decision over D.J. Linderman (19-10, 0-1 WSOF, 1-1 Bellator). The win moves Copeland to 2-0 since his release from the UFC last March and keeps his record spotless outside the Octagon. For Linderman, this latest set-back halts a three-fight surge, which included a TKO of former UFC heavyweight contender Jeff Monson earlier this year. Linderman is one of the better journeyman fighters competing today, and Copeland's win over him is arguably one of the best of his career.

Also on the card, Alvin Robinson (15-9, 1-3 UFC, 0-1 Bellator) put the arm-triangle choke to Josh Huber (16-9-0) in Round 1. At UFC 77 (eight gosh durn years ago), Robinson put a rather impressive beating on TUF 2 favorite Jorge Gurgel, but has been unable to replicate that success with any consistency since then. He's 2-2 in the last two years.

Meanwhile, at RFA 32, TUF 15 contestant Dakota Cochrane (21-9, 0-2 Bellator) claimed a unanimous decision over Ben Neumann (9-4-0). Cochrane halted Neumann's four-fight winning streak and extending his own to three. It's the first time in almost three years that Cochrane has won so many consecutive bouts. He improves to 3-1 since a submission loss to Ryan Couture at Bellator 135 in March.

And on Saturday, in the main event of Cage Titans 26, Team Sityotdong rep Tateki Matsuda (11-7, 0-2 UFC) successfully rebounded from the January split-decision loss to Joby Sanchez that pushed him out of the UFC. The win came by way of unanimous decision at the expense of Johnny Campbell (11-6-0). The bout actually served as a rematch of a 2012 title fight, also under the Cage Titans banner, which Matsuda also won by unanimous decision. Team Sityotdong was once widely represented in the Octagon, with Marcus Davis, Jorge Gurgel, and perennial contender Kenny Florian all representing the gym. The team isn't quite so ubiquitous these days, though they do have current prospect Rob Font in the UFC.

UFC veterans took their share of lumps over the weekend, too, with heavyweight Ruan Potts (8-6, 0-3 UFC) dropping a unanimous decision to ostensible underdog Tumelo Maphutha (7-7-1). Potts was nigh-undefeated heading into his UFC debut but hasn't managed to fight his way back into the win column since the first-round TKO by Soa Palalei that kicked off his ill-fated tour of the Octagon.

TUF: Latin America alum Alexander Torres (3-3, 0-1 UFC) likewise stumbled last weekend, submitting to a rear-naked choke from Steven Rodriguez (7-2-0) in the second round of their main-event bout at Calvo Promotions 7 in Costa Rica. He slips to 1-1 since his UFC release last March.

And in the main event of GMC 7 in Germany, Mikkel Parlo (13-2, 4-2 Bellator) out-dueled Abusupiyan Magomedov (13-3-0) to a unanimous decision victory. The appearance of Parlo on the card is one more in a possibly troubling trend in which successful Bellator talent find themselves biding their time in regional organizations. Does it speak to Bellator's inability to maintain a roster of fighters? Or is this simply a mutual beneficial arrangement?

Also on the card, TUF 13 rep Nordin Asrih (22-10-1) picked up a second-round submission win over Niko Lohmann (6-13-0). Asrih is 4-1 in his last five, though the victories all came against debuting or generally unsuccessful competition.