Welcome to part 2 of this week's Beyond the Octagon, in which we'll dig a little deeper into the latest Titan FC results and check in with a few more UFC vets around the world.
Titan FC 39 was a huge card, which featured eight fighters who have at one point or another shared in the limelight of MMA's biggest promotions. The most significant of these, probably, is Gesias Cavalcante.
Cavalcante (20-8-1-2NC, 2-2 WSOF, 1-2-1NC Strikeforce, 1-2-1NC Dream) faced Pat Healy (30-22-1NC, 0-5-1NC UFC, 7-1 Strikeforce) in a main event bout that also served to fill the vacant lightweight throne.
Healy has conducted his career with remarkable consistency, pairing his natural durability with an efficient, grinding style that has bedeviled more than a few prospects; I really enjoyed his role as a spoiler in Strikeforce, where he snuffed out Bryan Travers, Lyle Beerbohm, Maximo Blanco, and Caros Fodor en route to a second tour in the UFC. Things only seemed to get better with his upset of Jim Miller, until a positive drug test saw his win, and the attendant bonus money, go up in smoke. The wheels pretty much flew off his UFC campaign after that. Even in defeat, though, his staying power remained a constant. Which makes Cavalcante's two-minute knockout of Healy so impressive.
In the mid to late aughts, Cavalcante looked like the future of the lightweight division. He lit up the K-1 Hero's scene with wins over Caol Uno, Hiroyuki Takaya, Rani Yahya, and Vitor Ribeiro, and it seemed like his star could only rise with the debut of Dream. However, the no-contest result of his fight with Shinya Aoki more or less set the tone for the coming years. Luke-warm performances and injury-induced layoffs characters more or less killed the momentum "JZ" had built in Japan, and it has since looked like the sport has more or less passed him by. And then he blitzes Healy.
Whatever the long-term ramifications, and though it's a bummer to see Healy lose, it's nice seeing a glimmer of the old Cavalcante, who is only the fourth man to ever knock Healy out (and the first one to do it in nine years. Cavalcante is 2-0 since his last appearance in WSOF; Healy is 4-2 since his UFC release.
In the co-main event, Andre Harrison improved his dustless record to 13-0-0 with a TKO (injury) of Deivison Ribeiro (26-10-1NC). Harrison owns victories over UFC vets Steven Siler and Kurt Holobaugh, as well as TUF alumni Cody Bollinger and Jeff Lentz.
And earlier in the evening, TUF 19 finalist Dhiego Lima (12-4, 1-3 UFC) picked up his first MMA title, beating out fellow UFC vet David Michaud (9-3, 1-2 UFC) for a unanimous decision and the welterweight championship. Lima, badly knocked out in three of his four UFC performances, is 2-0 since his release. Michaud slips to 1-1 in his post-UFC career.
The event also saw the return of Carina Damm (24-12, 0-1 Strikeforce), who took a unanimous decision over Sarah Alpar (6-4-0). Damm, sister of UFC vet Rodrigo Damm, was long considered to be one of the best female talents in the sport. Victories over Jessica Aguilar and Miku Matsumoto, plus a strong overall record, had her looking pretty good heading into Strikeforce's four-woman bantamweight tournament. A surprising loss to "Girlfight Monster" Hitomi Akano and a positive steroid test sort of took the shine off things, though, and Damm has been up and down since. The victory over Alpar is easily her most credible since then; most of the others have come against opponents with little to no MMA experience.
Also on the card Micah Miller, younger brother of the UFC's Cole Miller, hoisted himself out of a two-fight slump with a unanimous-decision worth effort against Kenny "Good To Go" Gaudreau (6-5-0, a nickname so ridiculous as to become a work of art). Miller (20-8, 0-1 Dream, 2-2 WEC), an early favorite on TUF 14 who lost to Steven Siler in the elimination round, is 2-2 in his last four.
Meanwhile, former Bellator tournament finalist Alexis Vila (14-7, 1-2 WSOF, 2-2 Bellator) suffered a third straight loss at the hands of Abdiel Velazquez (7-2-0). Vila put himself on the map with a surprising KO of then-champion Joe Warren but was unable to establish any lasting success; he's 0-2 since a run in WSOF.
And former Titan FC featherweight champ Kurt Holobaugh (15-4, 0-1 UFC 0-1 Strikeforce) rebounded from a recent loss to Frodo Khasbulaev with a second-round TKO of Luciano Dos Santos (10-8-0). He's 6-2 since a lone fight in the UFC.
And finally, TUF 21 alum Sabah Homasi (10-5, 1-2 Bellator, 0-1 Strikeforce) won his second fight in a row with first-round TKO of Vitor Eustaquio (8-6-0). Homasi represented American Top Team in the ATT vs. Blackzilians-themed season, in which he was characterized as one of the team's stronger competitors, though he wound up losing his lone fight on the show. He's 2-1 since then.
- Jumabieke Tuerxun (17-3-1, 0-3 UFC) defeats Giovani Moljo (7-14-0) by unanimous decision. He's 2-0-1 since being released from the UFC.
- Matt Bessette (19-7, 7-2 Bellator) defeats Ran Weathers (18-23-0) by guillotine choke in Round 1. Bessette, who has a win over Diego Nunes, has won his last four.
- Levan Makashvili (11-2-1, 1-1-1 UFC) defeats Ryan Sanders (10-8, 0-1 Bellator) by unanimous decision. It's Makashvili's first fight since being released from the UFC. Fun fact: Sanders's lone Bellator fight was against the debuting prospect Michael Page. Why you would bring a guy in against a prospect like that and not give him another shot afterwards, I have no idea.
- TUF 16's Julian Lane (11-6-0) defeats Lewis Corapi (7-3-0) by third-round guillotine.
BAMMA Bad Beat 20
- In his second lightweight title defense, TUF 15 semifinalist Chris Saunders (15-8, 0-1 UFC, 0-2 Bellator) drops a split-decision to Chris Culley (20-13, 0-1 Strikeforce).
- TUF 16 contestant Cortez Coleman (13-6, 3-3 Bellator, 0-1 Strikeforce) defeats Matt Jones (9-12, 0-4 Bellator) by unanimous decision to win the organization's middleweight title. He's won three in a row.
- Alexander Trevino (7-5, 3-1 Strikeforce) submits Erick Lozano (4-10-0) in Round 2, improving to 2-0 for the year.