When it rains it pours. While the UFC put on a dynamite card last Saturday, the world's regional shows featured a heavy dose of big-show veterans themselves. Given the wealth of former UFC, Bellator, and Strikeforce fighters competing last weekend, this week's Beyond the Octagon will be divided in two, with Part 1 focusing on domestic results and Part 2 shifting to the international scene.
Things got off to an early start with Thursday's King of the Cage: Awakening, which featured a bout between Trevor Prangley, the promotion's long-reigning light-heavyweight champion, and former Bellator heavyweight Mike Hayes. Hayes compiled a fair 2-1 record in Bellator, which included a victory over UFC alum Neil Grove, but "The Spartan" has been in a significant slump the last few years, having gone a mere 1-4 in his last five. His size advantage would, however, do him some nominal good in his contest with the smaller Prangley: after three rounds, the fight was ruled a split-draw. Prangley, who remains unbeaten in KOTC, sees his overall record move to 34-11-2. Hayes' stands at 19-10-2.
And on Friday, at RFA 26, TUF 17 rep Gilbert Smith (11-4, 0-1 UFC) put himself back in the win column with his victory over RFA welterweight champion Ben Smith (14-3-0). Ben seemed to come out ahead in the first round, coming out ahead in the striking exchanges and ably defending the takedowns that Gilbert spent most of the round chasing. Gilbert's zeal for top control would nearly end his night in Round 2 as he found himself frequently threatened by guillotines, kimuras, and armbars. Surely down on the cards to start Round 3, Gilbert again eagerly hunted the takedown, which an exhausted Ben Smith finally relinquished. Gilbert methodically established a mount, which Ben nearly reversed; the latter Smith would, however, leave one of his arms astray, and Gilbert quickly seized the fight-ending armbar. It's a quality win for Gilbert Smith, who successfully rebounds from a January loss to Chidi Njokuani and ends a six-fight win streak for the unseated champ.
Smith vs. Smith can be seen here. Fight starts at 2:45.
Meanwhile, at San Francisco's Dragon House 20, David Mitchell (19-5, 1-4 UFC) looked to keep his monster win streak going and collect another regional title in the process against light-heavyweight champion Marcel Fortuna (8-1-0). Mitchell rode into the fight with the momentum of seven straight victories, all of them finishes over solid competition. However, the underdog Fortuna would not be denied, ultimately earning a unanimous decision. It's the first loss for Mitchell since he was released from the UFC in 2013. Fortuna, meanwhile, remains victorious in his last five.
In the night's co-main event, former Strikeforce mainstay James Terry (15-8, 6-4 Strikeforce, 0-2 Bellator) put himself back in the win column with a first-round TKO of relative novice Chris Herrera (3-2-1, 1-0-1Bellator). Terry is 2-2 since 2014.
Also on the card, Roy Boughton (11-5, 0-1 Bellator) took half a minute to force a tap-out due to strikes from Matt Major (6-5, 0-2 Bellator). Major, who has a reputation as a talented but heedless fighter and who has recently struggled with homelessness, is winless in the four fights he's had across the last six years.
And in Pennsylvania, in the main event of Gladiators of the Cage 17, Dan Spohn (11-4, 0-1 UFC, 1-3 Bellator) faced Lewis Rumsey (11-12, 0-1Bellator). Spohn seemed like a strong entry to the TUF 19 field, given his composure and solid skill set, but "The Dragon" would fall in the semifinals and lose his follow-up fight to underdog Pat Walsh. Spohn again had his hands unexpectedly full against Rumsey, dropping the first round before edging ahead on the scorecards in Rounds 2 and 3 thanks to effective clinch work and dirty boxing. He earned a unanimous decision, moving him to 3-0 since his UFC release last summer.
Spohn vs. Rumsey is here. Action at 2:51:45.
Meanwhile, at Iowa's latest Victory Fighting Championship event, Brian Houston (4-4, 0-2 UFC) looked to pull himself out of his three-fight skid in his main event bout against Victor Moreno (36-21, 1-1 Bellator). The former UFC middleweight would be promptly denied, though, being TKO'd in the first.
Former TUF hopeful Dakota Cochrane (18-9, 0-2 Bellator) wouldn't manage much better, submitting in the closing seconds of Round 1 to a rear-naked choke from Steele McCall (7-3-0), who, based on his name, I can only assume is some sort walking cartoon character from a kids' show about space-faring fighter pilots.And down in Santa Fe, at Jackson's MMA Series 15, Isaac Vallie-Flagg (15-6-1, 1-3 UFC, 2-0 Strikeforce) made a successful return to the ring, putting Travis Coyle (12-7-0) away with strikes in the first. Vallie-Flagg is 1-0 since a three-fight losing streak saw him released from the UFC last November.
And at CFFC 49, former TUF contestant Marc Stevens (19-9, 0-1 Strikeforce, 0-1 Bellator) beat out journeyman Mike Medrano (11-13-0) by unanimous decision. Stevens, an early favorite on TUF 12, is 5-2 since an appearance in Bellator in 2012.
Finally, at Rage in the Cage 178 out of Arizona, Estevan Payan (16-9-1NC, 0-3 UFC, 2-0 Strikeforce) engaged in a thrilling brawl with late-replacement Roberto Yong (2-2-0). No sooner were the commentators finished expressing concerns about Payan's chin than he was floored with a right hook from Yong. A triangle choke from Payan would, however, dissuade Yong from pursuing ground-and-pound. Back on the feet, Payan punished Yong with knees and uppercuts, nearly finishing him in the round's closing minute. It was much the same in the following rounds, with Yong, a club fighter on the boxing scene, excelling at range and Payan doing heavy damage with both clinch work and debilitating leg kicks. An exhausted Yong, who took the fight on a day's notice, was dropped for the last time mid-way through Round 3 following an overhand right and kick to the knee. With the TKO victory, Payan moves to 2-2 in his post-UFC career.
Payan vs. Yong can be seen here. Action starts at 6:05. Recommended viewing.