Well, folks, after checking out what former UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, and PRIDE fighters have been up to in Japan and Russia, we close out this week's regional coverage with your favorite country and mine, America.
Legacy FC 44 out of Houston, Texas got things started, featuring a pair of competitors from the recent Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians.
Both Valdir Araujo and Carrington Banks tasted victory on the reality show, besting Steve Carl and Sabah Homasi respectively and contributing to the Blackzilians's commanding lead early in the season. Unlike previous seasons, however, a single victory on the show was apparently not enough to warrant entry into the UFC. Last Friday, they would experience mixed fortunes.
In the main event, Araujo (14-6, 0-1 WSOF, 1-1 Bellator) was tasked with Alex Morono (10-3-0), who entered the fight with the momentum of three straight victories. Much as he did on the show, Araujo imposed a stifling jiu-jitsu game that saw him cruise ahead on the scorecards throughout the first two rounds. Then, in the third, three minutes from a comfortable decision win, Araujo's haphazard method of closing distance caught up with him. An overhand right left Araujo on wobbly legs, and Morono clamped down on the opportunity, firing away with uppercuts and knees. A counter right finally sent the flailing Araujo crashing to the mat.
This latest knockout makes for the biggest win of Morono's career, while Araujo has now been knocked out twice in a row.
Morono vs. Araujo is here. The finishing sequence begins at 17:15. The knockout is recommended viewing.
Wrestler Carrington Banks fared much better in his co-main event bout with Justin Reiswerg (8-5-0), surviving a near-fight-ending salvo early in Round 2 to secure the unanimous decision. Banks improves to 4-0-0 with the win.
Banks vs. Reiswerg can be seen here.
Meanwhile, in the main event of Colorado's Rocky Mountain Rubicon, Bellator vet Jeremy Kimball, seen here making this face, pulled himself out of a two-fight skid with his TKO of Jason Clayton (8-7-0). The end came a mere 22 seconds into Round 1. Kimball, who has taken wins over Chidi Njokuani, Drew McFedries, and TUF finalist Tommy Speer, improves to 11-5-0 (1-1 Bellator).
Also on the card, Donnie Liles (17-7, 1-0 Strikeforce, 1-2 IFL) returned from a two-year layoff to make appropriately short work of Xavier Saccomanno (2-6-0), finishing him with a rear-naked choke in Round 1. The win marks a rebound from a 2013 loss to UFC vet Gilbert Smith.
And at Absolute Action 43 in Kentucky, welterweight brawler Roger Bowling (12-5-1NC, 0-2-1NC UFC, 4-3 Strikeforce) entered the ring for the first time since his 2013 release from the UFC. He'd knock out Joshua Thorpe (12-16-0) at 1:37 of Round 1, making for his first victory in three years.
In the co-main event, Carlo Prater (31-16-1, 1-2 UFC, 1-0 Strikeforce, 0-2 WEC) was also looking to land back in the win-column, but upstart Robert White (7-1-0) had other ideas, taking a split-decision from the former WEC title challenger. Prater's post-UFC record falls to 1-4. White has won four in a row, a stretch which includes a victory over Portland Pringle III, whose name I have desperately been trying to work into this column for the last 12 months.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Ramiro Hernandez (17-8, 0-2 UFC), acting as a replacement for Jens Pulver, faced jiu-jitsu stylist Cleber Luciano (12-5, 3-1 Bellator). The late notice would prove detrimental to Hernandez, who wound up dropping a unanimous decision that sees his post-UFC record slip to 4-2. Luciano has won four straight.
Finally we have KOTC: Bitter Rivals. During the night's main event, Reuben Duran (11-5-1, 1-3 UFC) successfully defended his bantamweight title with a unanimous decision-worthy effort against Andrew Natividad (6-5-0). Duran improves to 3-0 since being upset by George Roop in his final UFC appearance in 2013. Natividad sees a recent win streak come to a close at three.
Also on the card, J.J. Ambrose (23-6-2NC, 1-2 Bellator, 0-1 Affliction) staved off a losing streak with his second-round guillotine of Ricky Legere, Jr. (19-7, 1-0 Strikeforce, 1-0 Bellator). Ambrose is 3-1 in the last two years, with his only loss being to UFC alum Kazuki Tokudome. Legere is 1-4 during that same time, a disappointing turn that dampens his previous 5-0 tear.