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Beyond the Octagon: UFC's Caol Uno returns, former contender Jeff Monson wins final bout

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A look at how big-show veterans are fairing on MMA's smaller stages.

Those of us enjoying Bellator veteran Akop Stepanyan mounting win streak will be disappointed to hear that the kickboxer's run of success was brought to a halt last weekend. The loss came at the hands of Vener Galiev (27-8-0) in the main event of Fight Nights Global 45 out of Ufa, Russia. In the third round, with not much more than a hundred seconds left in the bout, Stepanyan submitted to a rear-naked choke.

The loss snaps a nine-fight winning streak for Stepanyan, who hadn't lost since the 2013 TKO to Mike Richman that ended his tour with Bellator. Galiev, who owns victories over former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko and Mercedes owner Mairbek Taisumov, has won two straight.

Also on the card, lightweight Ivan Jorge (26-6, 2-2 UFC) stumbled in his first fight back on the regional circuit, dropping a unanimous decision to Akhmet Aliev (12-4-0). Aliev has won four of his last five.

And at DEEP Cage Impact 2016 in Tokyo, Masakazu Imanari (33-15-2, 4-3 Dream, 0-2 PRIDE) took a mere 35 seconds to execute his trademark heel hook against TUF 12 alum and former King of Pancrase Nam Phan (21-16, 2-6 UFC, 0-1 Bellator). The win marks a successful rebound from a unanimous decision loss to Sengoku veteran Kazunori Yokota. As for Phan, he drops his second in a row and slips to 3-3 since his release from the UFC two years ago.

Meanwhile, at the latest Mobstyles: Fight and Mosh in Chiba, Japan, Caol Uno (33-18-5) pulled himself out of a two-fight slump with a second-round rear-naked choke of MMA novice Jung Ho Hwang (0-2-0). Uno, who will turn 41 next week, is 1-0 for this year.

Earlier that evening, brawler Yoshiro Maeda (34-15-5, 2-5 Dream, 1-0 Sengoku, 1-2 WEC, 0-2 PRIDE) dispatched local product Kosuke Suzuki (11-6-3) with a rear-naked choke of his own, also in Round 2. Maeda has won four in a row.

Also on Saturday, in Novgorod, Russia, in the main event of PRIDE Fighting Show's latest offering, Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (28-4, 1-1 Bellator) rebounded from his majority-decision loss to Alexander Shlemenko with a unanimous decision-worthy effort against Charles Andrade (29-30-0). Vasilevsky is 11-2 since last appearing in Bellator, including wins over Maiquel Falcao and current M-1 champ Ramazan Emeev.

And in the co-main event, former UFC heavyweight title contender Jeff Monson entered the ring for what might very well be the last contest of his MMA career for a bout with the debuting Maxim Kiselev (0-1-0). Just over three minutes into the opening round, Monson submitted Kiselev with his favored north-south choke, making for his sixtieth victory; in an interview last January, Monson acknowledged that retirement was a likely necessity, and insisted that he would fight until he achieved sixty wins.

If this is indeed the last trip "The Snowman" takes to the ring, he will have retired with a record of 60-25-1 (4-3 UFC, 1-0 PRIDE) following a nearly twenty-years-long career during which he contended for Tim Sylvia's championship title, submitted Kazuyuki Fujita in the main event of PRIDE FC's final show, and claimed victories over Aleksander Emelianenko, Sergei Kharitonov, and Roy Nelson.

Other Results

At Pancrse 277, Issei Tamura (10-7, 1-2 UFC) extended his winning streak to three and improved to 3-3 since leaving the UFC thanks to a third-round knockout of Juntaro Ushiku (10-4-1), thus capturing the organization's vacant featherweight title.

On that same card, Kazuki Tokudome (20-7-1, 1-3 UFC) continued his strong run of success with a first-round TKO of fellow UFC veteran Akbarh Arreola (23-11-1, 1-3 UFC). Tokudome is 4-0 since his UFC release; Arreola is 0-1.

Prospect Kleber Koike Erbst (19-4-1) rebounded from a rare loss with a third-round rear-naked choke of Yusuke Yachi (14-6-0). Bantamweight prospect Victory Henry (12-2-0) likewise returned to the win-column with a unanimous decision victory over Alan Yoshihiro Yamaniha (13-5-4).

Be-afroed flyweight pioneer Mamoru Yamaguchi (29-10-5) took a split-decision win over Senzo Ikeda (8-6-1). It is Yamaguchi's fourth in a row to go to a spit-verdict of one sort or another.

And Atsushi Yamamoto (19-10-3, 2-2 Dream) staved off a third straight loss with his unanimous decision win over Yusuke Ogikubo (8-4-0), thus halting Ogikubo's eight-fight winning streak.

At WXC 63, Johnny Bedford (21-12-1-1NC, 2-3-1NC UFC) improved to 2-0 in his post-UFC career with a fourth-round TKO of Taylor Moore (2-1-0).

Iliarde Santos (31-11-1, 0-3 UFC) defeated Bruno Viana (9-2-0) by split-decision, improving to 3-2 since being cut from the UFC. This, in the main event of Aspera FC 35.

At Kunlun Fight 43, TUF: China winner Zhang Lipeng (15-9-1, 2-2 UFC) knocked out Takashi Noto (3-3-0) in a minute flat. He is 6-0 since last appearing in the Octagon.

At URCC 27, Will Chope (31-9, 0-1 UFC) made predictably short work of Richie Redman (2-5-0) by way of first-round rear-naked choke.

Karen Darabedyan (12-5, 1-2 WEC) continued his successful comeback at California Xtreme Fighting, where he submitted Joe Condon (12-10, 1-2 WSOF) with a first-round guillotine choke, improving to 3-0 since returning from his years-long hiatus.

And at Triumph FC 1, TUF 22 alum Tom Gallicchio (19-9-0) fell short in his bid for the organization's lightweight title, succumbing to the strikes of Andrew McInnes (7-1-0) in Round 4.