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Beyond the Octagon: Former UFC title challenger Hermes Franca KO'd in under 60 seconds

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Your weekly look at what the alumni of MMA's biggest organizations have been up to on the regional circuit.

While Fabricio Werdum cemented his place as the world's best heavyweight this past weekend, former UFC fighters went 4-3 on the regional circuit. This, in addition to action from Bellator alumni, and a Russian prospect or two...

On that note, we start things off in Moscow, which hosted Fight Nights: Battle 19 last Thursday. In the evening's main event, Vladimir Mineev improved his record to 5-0-0 thanks to a first-round TKO of Xavier Foupa-Pokam (30-21, 0-2 UFC). Foupa-Pokam worked a reasonably effective clinch game for most of the opening frame, but tired in the bout's closing minute, leaving himself open to a barrage from Mineev along the fence. A straight right would put him on his back, and follow-up punches would knock him stiff. It's the fourth time Mineev has fought this year and it keeps his string of first-round knockouts unbroken. As for "Professor X," this latest setback halts his winning streak at three. He's 4-3 in the last two years.

Check out Mineev vs. Foupa-Pokam here. Action at 0:20.

In the co-main event, Yusup Saadulaev (12-4-1-1NC, 1-1 Dream) successfully rebounded from a TKO loss last summer to Koetsu Okazaki that had come under the One FC banner. The victory came in the form of a unanimous decision over Isaac Pimentel (13-5-0). The loss snaps a three-fight streak for Pimentel.

Further down the card, featherweight Rasul Mirzaev carried an undefeated record into the cage against Polish product Sebastian Romanowski (10-5-1). "The Black Tiger" maintained his dustless record with a TKO of Romanowski mid-way through Round 3. Mirzaev's mark now stands at 11-0-0, though he yet lacks victory over a name opponent.

Mirzaev vs. Romanowski can be seen here. An excellent brawl, featuring both striking and grappling, that presumably gets waved off due to cuts sustained by Romanwoski.

Meanwhile, at Capital Fights 6 in Brasilia, Guto Inocente (7-4, 0-2 UFC, 1-0 Strikeforce) took to the ring against Cristiano Souza (6-4-0) for his first fight since being released from the UFC last November. According to Souza's Facebook account, Inocente would come out the better man, making for his first victory since 2012. The method was not specified.

And on Friday, in the headliner for Ice FC 6 out of Manchester, England, heavyweight Rob Broughton (16-7-1, 1-2 UFC) took on neophyte Marcin Bocian (0-1-0). The fight marks the end of a hiatus nearly four years long for Broughton, who was released from the UFC after injuries and personal issues caused him to pull out of three successive fights. In his return, Broughton made predictably short work of Bocian, submitting him with a kimura in Round 1.

Stateside, at CES 29, Chuck O'Neil (15-7, 0-1 UFC, 1-0 Bellator) looked to defend his CES welterweight title a second time. Challenging him was Dominique Steele (13-5, 0-1 Bellator, 1-0 Strikeforce), who can claim victories over Ryan Thomas and Dan Hornbuckle. By the end of the night, Steele would also be able to add O'Neil to the list--after five rounds, all three judges saw it for the challenger. Steele has now won two straight, while O'Neil's win streak comes to a close at four--it's been the longest winning streak of O'Neil's career.

In the co-main event, Matt Bessette (14-6, 6-2 Bellator) brought the crowd to its feet when, in the second round, an overhand right sent short-notice opponent Khama Worthy (7-4-0) crashing to the mat. Bessette is 2-0 for the year, Worthy 0-2 (both by TKO).

Highlights from CES 29 are here. Footage from the main events start at 1:00.

And on Saturday, at Akhmat Fight Club's Battle in Grozny 3, disgraced former title challenger Hermes Franca (22-14, 6-5 UFC) returned to the cage for his first bout of 2015. Looking to hand Franca a third straight loss was Shamil Zavurov (21-3-0). Given Zavurov's ten victories by (T)KO and Franca's long-eroding chin, one could've easily guessed at how this one played out: within the bouts opening minute, Zavurov's straight right found Franca's jaw, leaving Franca's body to drop haphazardly to the mat. Zavurov has now won six straight. Franca's last victory was in 2011.

Watch Zavurov vs. Franca here.

Further down the card was light-heavyweight talent Maxim Grishin (20-6-0), who finished off Malik Merad (19-14, 0-1 Bellator) in short order, submitting him with a rear-naked choke in Round 1. Grishin is undefeated since 2012, during which time he's taken wins over UFC veterans Mario Miranda, Rodney Wallace, and Trevor Prangley, among others.

Also fighting that night was Yasubey Enomoto (13-6, 3-1 Sengoku). The former Sengoku tournament finalist fought Abubakar Vagaev (4-1-0) to a split-decision victory, making for the first loss of Vagaev's career. The bout moves Enomoto back to the win column after a unanimous decision loss to Alexander Shlemenko in 2014.

Finally, we have Brazil's Imortal FC 1, which hosted Joao Zeferino (18-6, 0-2 UFC) in a bout with Juliano Santos (9-3-0). Both fighters carried appreciable win streaks into the ring with them--Zeferino at four and Santos at nine, with all of their consecutive victories coming by knockout or submission. True to their track-records, the fight would end within the distance: after a minute and a half, Zeferino latched on the fight-ending rear-naked choke. "The Brazilian Samurai" moves to 5-0 since the two-fight slump that saw him released from the UFC in 2013. Santos tastes defeat for the first time in six years.

Fellow UFC veteran Delson Heleno (26-8, 0-1 UFC, 6-4 IFL) also found victory that night, outpointing Julio Cesar Araujo (7-1-0) en route to a unanimous decision victory and handing Araujo his first loss in the process. Heleno, a castmember of TUF: Brazil, is 3-1 since his one-and-done UFC campaign in 2012.

Conversely, Richardson Moreira (7-4, 0-2 UFC), another former TUF: Brazil contestant, would wind up on the wrong end of a split decision following his bout with Leonardo Guimaraes (11-1-0). Morreira's dropped three straight, including two in the UFC, since making it to the semi-finals of TUF: Brazil 3.

Also on the card, women's flyweight standout Jennifer Maia ended Stephanie Bragayrac's night with a knee in Round 2. Maia, who's bested former Bellator champion Zoila Frausto by unanimous decision, improves her record to 10-4-1, while Bragayrac sees hers fall to 5-3-0.