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Beyond the Octagon: UFC vet Monson wins, donates purse to Russian cause

Catching up with big show-veterans on the regional circuit...

A solid slate of fights took place outside the UFC this past weekend, including some vintage mat work from former UFC heavyweight contender Jeff Monson, and former Bellator heavyweight champ Alexander Volkov looking for a fifth consecutive win since losing his title to Vitaly Minakov. We start things off, however, in Boise, Idaho.

Despite an extensive and successful MMA career prior to his time on TUF 14, Steven Siler entered the show rather under the radar, so much so that Dana White dismissed him as likely fodder before Siler wound up submitting Micah Miller to get into the house. He would give up a TKO to eventual winner Diego Brandao, but was nevertheless given a UFC contract. He started his UFC career at a promising 5-1, including victories over Cole Miller (Micah Miller's brother) and Mike Brown, but three subsequent losses saw him released fro the UFC last summer. A follow-up unanimous decision loss to Bellator vet Des Green in December extended his losing streak to four; he'd never lost more than two in a row before this slump.

Last Friday in Boise, during the main event of Front Street Fights 4, Siler looked to finally put himself back in the win column with a fight against Brandon Hempleman (10-3, 1-1 WSOF). The two went to work on the feet, neither taking a distinct advantage until SIler, faking a front kick and then landing a right hook, sent Hempleman tumbling to the mat. Siler quickly followed up with punches from mount, forcing the referee stoppage. With the victory, only the fourth (T)KO of his career, Siler improves his overall record to 24-14-0 and his post-UFC record to 1-1.

Watch Siler vs. Hempleman here.

And on Saturday, at regally titled Oplot Challenge 108: For the Glory of the Fatherland, Jeff Monson did what he does best against Vladimir Nepochatov. The larger Nepochatov landed a heavy leg kick to start things off, and Monson didn't risk taking another. Monson struggled for a time to firmly ground Nepochatov, but once he did promptly passed to side control. Some light ground and pound then gave way to Monson's favored submission, the north-south choke.

After the bout, Monson gave a brief speech, stating "The money that I received tonight from my fight is all going to Donbass. We had an agreement, I made no money tonight. If you guys could support the people, these are people who love Russia, who need your support. Children that are victims of the fight, they need our help, and so I'm donating my money, please help out as much as you can."

Monson improves to 53-20-1, having won three straight. Nepochatov falls to 4-5-0.

Monson vs. Nepochatov is here. Fair warning, the video quality is pretty gnarly.

Also on Saturday, at M-1 Challenge 55, Luigi Fioravanti (25-13, 4-5 UFC) dropped a unanimous decision to Nodar Kudukhashvili (8-1-0). Fioravanti, who was coming in on the strength of a December TKO victory, is 3-2 since 2013. Kudukhashvili, whose lone loss came to the UFC's Uriah Hall, has now won three straight.

In the night's co-main event, former promotional champion Kenny Garner won under the M-1 banner for the first time since 2012, submitting Aslambek Musaev with an arm-triangle choke in Round 2. Garner improves to 15-8-0 while Musaev falls to 4-2-0.

The Russian MMA action continues with Union MMA Pro, which hosted former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov (24-4, 6-1 Bellator) as he took on Alexei Kudin (19-8-0) in the night's main event.

Kudin pressed the action early, firing off leg kicks while looking to land hooks to the body and head. Meanwhile, Volkov, his left leg showing signs of damage, was careful to keep his jab in Kudin's face while threatening with kicks to the body. Perhaps frustrated with Kudin's pressure game, Volkov attempted a takedown in the closing minute of Round 1, but would be unable to complete it.

The subsequent rounds would unfold much the same, with Kudin, undeterred by a gash on his leg, continuing to stymie Volkov with leg kicks. Successful takedowns in the final minute of Rounds 2 and 3 allowed Volkov to punish Kudin some in return, but it seemed like Kudin's high-pressure game on the feet, combined with an apparent lack of urgency on Volkov's part, should've been enough to win the Georgian fighter a nod from the judges. When the scorecards were read, however, it was Volkov who was awarded the unanimous decision.

Volkov vs. Kudin can be seen here.

nd, back in the good ol' US of A, TUF 14 vet Stephen Bass (11-2, 0-1 UFC) returned after taking 2014 off to fight Jason Hicks (5-3-0) in the main event of South Carolina's Conflict MMA 24. Bass, who lost to Marcus Brimage in his lone, official UFC bout and lost a subsequent fight to Bellator vet Farkhad Sharipov,, would halt his losing streak at two thanks to a split-decision victory.

And in Minnesota, at King of the Cage: Public Enemy, former UFC bantamweight Ramiro Hernandez (17-6, 0-2 UFC) took a unanimous decision over Ben Pierre-Saint (7-2-0). Hernandez was cut in early 2014 after dropping fights to Lucas Martins (by rear-naked choke) and Hugo Viana (unanimous decision). He's 4-0 since then.

Finally, in the main event of Sparta Combat League in Washington, former Strikeforce middleweight Cory Devela won consecutive bouts for the first time in seven years. The win came by way of a third-round rear-naked choke against Jared Torgeson (14-13-0). Devela, whose 1-3 run in Strikeforce includes a fight with Joe Riggs during which Devela slammed Riggs so hard that the UFC welterweight had to tap out, improves his overall record to 14-6-0.

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