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Beyond the Octagon Russia: Dennis Hallman KO'd, UFC vet Taylor halts prospect Tsarev

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Results from an exceptionally busy weekend for UFC vets in Russia.

The Beyond the Octagon jet-setting continues as we take a look at Russian promotion Plotforma S-70 and the monster card they put together for last Saturday, which featured a healthy dose of former UFC and Bellator talent.

In the night's co-main event, Dennis Hallman (53-19-2, 4-5 UFC, 2-0 Strikeforce, 2-1 IFL) moved up to middleweight for a bout with Mikhail Kolobegov.

Against the larger, comparatively comfortable Kolobegov, Hallman appeared uneasy, hesitant, and weighed down by the four losses hanging over his head. There would be no time to shake it off, as shortly after the the opening bell, a flying knee and uppercut from the Russian left Hallman on the mat, scrambling to regain some semblance of control. For a brief moment it looked like Hallman might counter Kolobegov's ground-and-pound with a leg lock, but he lost the hold and, with it, seemingly, the will to fight. Strikes from within the depleted Hallman's guard forced the referee's hand, granting Kolobegov the TKO victory. His record improves to 9-3-0, 1NC, with eight wins coming within the distance. Hallman is 0-5 in the last two years. His last four losses have come by (T)KO.

Kolobegov vs. Hallman is here.

Also on the card, Bellator's Ron Keslar (11-8, 2-3 Bellator, 1-2 Strikeforce) faced welterweight slugger Alexei Kunchenko (10-0-0). Keslar, who had the privilege of handing War Machine his first Bellator loss, was looking to rebound from the three-fight skid that saw him out of that organization.

Kunchenko employed a sharp kickboxing game that pushed him easily ahead on the scorecards heading into Round 3. Keslar would then try to change things up with a takedown, but Kunchenko handily escaped to his feet. He then pressed forward with a barrage that drove Keslar into a defensive shell, and a short, startling right hook would leave Keslar in a tangled heap, barely saved from falling out of the ring by the referee.

This makes for Keslar's third (T)KO in four losses. Kunchenko, meanwhile, has knocked out his last three opponents.

Watch Kunchenko vs. Keslar here. The finish starts at 11:40.

Earlier in the night, a surging Tim Hague (20-10, 1-4 UFC) looked to capture his fifth straight victory at the expense of heavyweight prospect Evgeny Erokhin (11-4-0). Erokhin would, however, not give up his own appreciable winning streak, laying Hague out with a blistering right some two minutes into Round 1.

Check out Erokhin vs. Hague here. Strong showing from Erokhin who, by the close of 2013, had lost three in a row, leaving his record at 5-4. Six straight victories since then, including knockouts of Brett Rogers, Mike Kyle, and Jeff Monson, all but guarantee his signing by a major organization sometime this year.

And in a lightweight affair, the oft-sensational Akop Stepanyan (20-7, 1-4 Bellator) out-struck TUF runner-up Andre Winner (20-9-2, 2-4 UFC) en route to a unanimous decision victory. This, following three rounds of kickboxing during which Winner's size advantage was insufficient to overcome Stepanyan's edge in speed, varied arsenal, and ring generalship. With this latest victory, Stepanyan moves to 7-0 since his release from Bellator in 2013. Winner tastes defeat for the first time in as many bouts.

Watch Stepanyan vs. Winner here.

Jesse Taylor (29-12, 1-1 WSOF, 0-2 Strikeforce, 1-0 Dream, 0-1 UFC) was the only UFC veteran to find victory Saturday evening, despite being tasked with arguably the strongest opponent (who also happens to have arguably the best nickname).

"The Lonely Wolf" Michail Tsarev (29-5, 1-2 Bellator) seemed poised for a return to one of the major MMA promotions, having bludgeoned his way to stoppage victories in his last six fights, all of them ending in Round 1. But Taylor, a dependably strong competitor on the regional circuit, would show up in top form, promptly securing the takedown and proceeding to squash Tsarev's attempts at submission or escape. Following four minutes of such control, Taylor seized Tsarev's neck and passed to mount, eliciting the tap via guillotine. Taylor has won two straight and improves to 2-2 since a failed bid for the WSOF middleweight title. Tsarev loses for the first time since the 2013 TKO from Douglas Lima that saw him released from Bellator.

Taylor vs. Tsarev is here.

And kicking the night off was Vadim Nemkov (2-0-0), who set the tone early with his upset victory over Joaquim Ferreira (17-10-0), the only man outside the UFC to beat Junior Dos Santos. Nemkov flattened Ferreira within 30 seconds.

Nemkov vs. Ferreira, sans sound, can be seen here.