Back in 2009, Lyoto Machida became the UFC's undefeated light-heavyweight champion and installed himself in what appeared to be a position of unassailable dominance. That same year, Miguel Torres was doing much the same down in the bantamweight ranks of the WEC; the nigh-undefeated Torres defended his title for the third time in a thrilling bout with current UFC mainstay Takeya Mizugaki, presenting to fans and opponents a mix of striking acumen and grappling prowess, aggression and endurance, that seemed to promise a lengthy residence among the upper echelons of the sport.
Since 2009, of course, both Machida and Torres have seen dramatic downturns in careers that had previously been subject to superlative-laden commentary (that oft-repeated Roganism "The Machida Era", the hyper-enthused, sometimes-skewed play-by-plays of Frank Mir). Torres, however, has certainly seen the sharper decline in fortunes, having lasted just over a year in the UFC before being released back into the hard-scrabble regional circuits, where he put in a brief, fruitless run in WSOF. He pieced together a three-fight win streak thereafter, taking out a couple journeymen before edging out a 13-2-2 Takahiro Ashida, but that promise, too, went up in smoke, giving way to a sub-minute knockout loss to Des Green, which then gave way to an ill-advised turn as a kickboxer, which somehow yielded results even worse than those that pessimists (or realists) expected. And this past weekend, in his first bout since that disastrous kickboxing debut, Torres would see, much like one-time peer Machida, his former glory slide yet further out of reach.
As part of Rebel FC's one-night, four-man featherweight tournament, Torres (43-9-0) got a free pass to the finals when his opponent, UFC veteran Will Chope, failed to make weight. Meanwhile, 25-year-old prospect Kleber Koike Erbst (18-3-1) punched his ticket earlier that night with a first-round triangle choke of the aforementioned Ashida. Despite coming into the bout fresh, Torres would be unable to fend off Erbst's submission game, succumbing to an undefined choke in Round 2. This makes for only the third submission loss of Torres's lengthy career; two of those losses have come in the last two years. Erbst, meanwhile, wins his 14th straight fight. He's undefeated since 2010, and all but one of his victories have come within the distance.
It's not all bad news for UFC vets, though. At Macto Championships 1 in England, TUF 9 alum "Slick" Nick Osipczak (6-3, 2-3 UFC) made short work of Kyle Redfearn (8-7-0), tying up a fight-ending rear-naked choke two minutes into Round 1. The victory marks Osipczak's return from a five-year absence--he hadn't fought since the split-decision loss to Duane Ludwig that saw him cut from the UFC in 2010.
Fellow TUF 9 contestant Dean Amasinger made his own successful comeback, putting away Dan Vinni (12-13-0) with strikes in the opening seconds of Round 2. Amasinger, who hasn't fought in three years, improves to 10-6-0 overall.
Also on the card, Oli Thompson (14-8, 0-2 UFC) put himself on a win streak thanks to a first-round knockout of Kamil Bazelak (2-5-0). That may not seem like much, but Bazelak has played the spoiler before, having recently knocked out a 9-1-0 Karl Etherington. Thompson, who took a unanimous decision over Minowaman at an Inoki Genome Federation event earlier this year, improves to 5-4 in his post-UFC career. And speaking of the IGF...
In Tokyo, at IGF Genome 34, former lightweight Won Sik Park (11-5-1-1NC, 0-1 Dream, 0-1 Sengoku) jumped up thirty pounds to take a unanimous decision against Koji Shikuwa (1-1-0). As seems to be the theme of the week, "Parky" was also making a return from hiatus: he'd declared retirement in 2013 after dropping three in a row.
And at Arena Tour 6 in Argentina, Ricardo Tirloni (20-6, 3-4 Bellator) picked up a unanimous decision victory over E.J. Brooks (8-4, 4-1 Bellator). Tirloni is 4-1 since a submission to Alexander Sarnavskiy saw him out of Bellator. Brooks started his career with seven straight wins, but is a disappointing 1-4 since then.
Up a piece, in California, Chris Saunders (13-7, 0-1 UFC, 0-2 Bellator) strung together consecutive victories for the first time in four years, putting the guillotine to Brandon Morris (3-4-0) in Round 2 of their main event bout at BAMMA Badbeat 14. Saunders is 4-2 since a 2013 appearance in Bellator.
Meanwhile, at Legacy FC 42 in Louisiana, victory once again eluded Anthony Njokuani (17-11-1NC, 3-5 UFC, 4-3 WEC) who dropped a split-decision to Josh Quayhagen (8-3, 3-1 Bellator). Njokuani is 0-2 since his release from the UFC in 2014 and is winless since a knockout of Roger Bowling in 2013. Quayhagen, for his part, halts a two-fight skid.
And in Albert Canada, Cory Devela (15-6, 1-3 Strikeforce) traveled into hostile territory to take on Nick Ring (14-4, 3-3 UFC) in the headliner of Hard Knocks 44. Devela made a minor splash with his 2008 Strikeforce debut, upsetting Joe Riggs with a submission via slam. He'd be unable to build off that momentum, however, stumbling in all of his subsequent fights before taking 2011 and '12 off from competition. It would seem that the time off did some good, however - after three rounds, Devela was awarded the unanimous decision over local favorite Ring, making for the biggest-name win of his career. Devela has now stands at 4-1 since his last appearance in Strikeforce and has won three straight. Ring falls to 1-1 since being released from the UFC in 2013.
In the night's co-main event, "Sho Nuff the Master" Rodney Wallace (23-10-1, 0-3 UFC, 1-1 Bellator) avoided a second straight loss thanks to a split-decision effort against Kalib Starnes (16-10-1, 2-3 UFC). Wallace is 4-3 since 2014. Starnes is 0-2 in that same time, though he did go a very solid 4-0 in 2013.
And in Atlanta on Saturday, in the main event of NFC 75, Jordan Rinaldi (10-4, 1-0 WSOF) came out ahead on the scorecards against Diego Saraiva (22-19-1, 0-3 UFC), handing the jiu-jitsu stylist his third straight loss in the process. Saraiva is 1-4 in his last five and hasn't won consecutive bouts since 2010. Rinaldi, who submitted to a guillotine from Joe Proctor in the elimination round of TUF 15, is on a three-fight win streak.
Finally, at WFC 41 in Reno, Nevada, Steven Siler (25-14, 5-4 UFC) improved to 2-1 since the three-fight slump that saw him cut from the UFC in 2014. This latest victory came following a display of superior grappling and ground-and-pound against Jack Montgomery (16-16-0).