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Beyond the Octagon: Former Bellator champ M'Pumbu, UFC vet Sakara head up international scene

Former Bellator light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu and erstwhile UFC slugger Alessio Sakara lead a crowd of big-show veterans in regional action.

Last weekend's regional shows once again yielded up a wealth of fight results featuring former UFC, Bellator, and Strikeforce talent, including Bellator's former light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu and former welterweight title challenger Karl Amoussou. However, we begin this look at the international scene with Friday's Final Fight Championship 19 in Austria...

Alessio Sakara (16-11-2NC, 6-8-1NC UFC) embarked on his UFC career way back in 2005, at UFC 55, where Ron Faircloth kicked him in the groin with such capital-F Fury (hence the event's name, presumably) that Sakara could no longer continue. The fight was ruled a no-contest and more or less set the tone for Sakara's frequently unpredictable Octagon tenure, characterized as it was by sizable upset losses to Drew McFedries and Nico Musoke, unlikely victories over James Irvin and Thales Leites (then fresh off his title challenge), plus a fight with the debuting Chris Weidman, against whom Sakara was judged merely a "slight underdog." His go-for-broke style earned him a good deal of slack, but a fourth straight loss in 2013 forced the UFC's hand, and "Legionarius" was released. In the main event of FFC 19, Sakara finally put himself back in the win column.

The seemingly overmatched Dib Akil (2-3-0) looked to test Sakara's suspect chin early, pressing forward with salvos of kicks and wild hooks, forcing Sakara into a defensive shell. Sakara quickly gave up any attempts at counter-striking and instead handily took Akil to the mat, where he broke through Akil's guard into side-control while feeding the novice a steady diet of ground-and-pound. Akil soon waved the fight off, appearing to have sustained a break to either his wrist or his hand, thus giving Sakara the TKO victory--his first victory of any sort in six years. He improves to 1-0-0 (1NC) since his UFC release (a fight last December, which ended when Sakara separated his bicep while throwing a punch and which was initially registered as a loss, has since been changed to a no-contest).

Watch Sakara vs. Akil here. The video quality is somewhat poor, but this is the only version I've found that isn't accompanied by someone's home-made electronica. Action at 4:15.

And on Saturday, at Grachan 19 in Tokyo, former Sengoku mainstay and newly minted featherweight champion Shigeki Osawa (15-6-4, 5-1 Sengoku) looked to make his first title defense. Challenging him was Toru Harai (11-6-2), who entered the cage on the strength of a four-fight win streak (albeit over competition with losing records). Osawa seemed to be a lock, especially given his TKO of Caol Uno in July, but the fight would wind up going to the scorecards, where it was ruled a draw. Osawa is 2-0-1 for the year.

Earlier that evening, Motonobu Tezuka (25-10-5, 0-2 UFC) rebounded from a June split-decision loss with a technical knockout of Kenichi Ito (12-14-8). The end came less than thirty seconds into the first round. Tezuka improves to 6-4-1 since his release from the UFC in 2013.

And at Brace 36, in everyone's favorite land of zoological horrors, Australia, TUF: The Smashes quarterfinalist Ben Alloway improved to 3-1 in his post-UFC career thanks to a second-round guillotine choke of Rick Alchin (11-10-0). Alloway, who went 1-2 in the UFC, stands at 16-6-0 overall.

Up in Helsinki, Finland, at Cage 31, Anton Kuivanen (23-8, 1-2 UFC) took his revenge on Eric Reynolds (18-10, 0-1 WSOF, 1-2 Bellator), snatching both a unanimous decision and the organization's lightweight title from the American. Kuivanen, who lost by TKO in his first meeting with Reynolds for the organization's vacant title, has won three straight and moves to 6-2 since his return to the regionals. As for Reynolds, this weekend marks his fourth loss in a row.

Finally, in Paris, World Warriors Fighting Championship made a big statement for mixed martial arts in France as it held the country's first MMA event with a cage and under the unified rules. For the historic event's headlining bout, Karl Amoussou, France's most prominent welterweight and a former Bellator title challenger, faced Florent Betorangal (16-12-0). Amoussou would end the fight with a characteristic first-round heel hook, putting himself on a two-fight win streak--the first time he's won consecutive bouts in nearly three years. He's 2-0 since his 5-4 run in Bellator, and 18-7-2 overall.

Inaugural Bellator light-heavyweight champ Christian M'Pumbu (18-7-1, 3-3 Bellator) also enjoyed success on the card, knocking out Ramis Teregulov (10-2-0) in Round 2 of their co-main event bout. The victory pulls "Tonton" out of a four-fight slump; M'Pumbu hadn't won since first capturing the Bellator title in 2011. The contest also marks his first time fighting outside Bellator in five years.

That's all for the international edition of Beyond the Octagon. Check back soon for coverage of last weekend's stateside results.

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