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Beyond the Octagon: Pudzianowski loses second straight, former Bellator champ M'Pumbu stumbles

A look at how MMA's big-show veterans are fairing in the world's smaller shows.

Tonight, Luke Rockhold will look to cement himself as the world's top middleweight, but in Poland last weekend another 185er continued to entrench himself as one of the best fighters to remain outside the UFC.

The big news this past weekend came out of Poland's KSW 35, where Mamed Khalidov (32-4-2, 1-1 Sengoku, 1-0 EliteXC) staged the inaugural defense of his middleweight title against challenger Aziz Karaoglu (9-7-0). A glance at the numbers belies how worthy of a challenger Karaoglu was, as he headed into the fight on the strength of a three-fight win streak, all of which came by first-round (T)KO, and which included victories over UFC veterans Jay Silva and Maiquel Falcao. Nevertheless, Khalidov would prevail by majority decision. Khalidov is on a twelve-fight winning streak, which includes victories over Melvin Manhoef, Brett Cooper, Maiquel Falcao, Jesse Taylor, Matt Lindland, and James Irvin. Karaoglu is only the second person among them to go the distance with Khalidov.

In the night's co-main event, KSW fixture Marcin Rozalski (6-4-0) scored an ostensible upset, and certainly the most significant victory of his career, with his win over five-time World's Strongest Man winner Mariusz Pudzianowski (9-5-0). The end came in the second round, via guillotine choke. Following his TKO loss to Bellator vet Peter Graham last October, Pudzianowski has now lost twice in a row; it's the first losing streak of his career.

Earlier, KSW's former long-reigning middleweight champion Michal Materla (23-5-0) put away Antoni Chmielewski (32-15-0) with strikes in Round 1. The TKO marks a return to the win column for Materla, who lost his title to Khalidov earlier this year.

And TUF 22 finalist Marcin Wrzosek (11-3, 0-1 UFC) captured a unanimous decision in his bout with Filip Wolanski (9-2-0), successfully rebounding from the loss to Julian Erosa that ended his UFC tenure.

Meanwhile, in the co-main even of Zurich, Switzerland's HIT Fighting Championships 2, former Bellator light-heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu (19-8-1, 3-4 Bellator) jumped up to heavyweight for a title bout with UFC veteran Denis Stojnic (13-3, 0-2 UFC). M'Pumbu was Bellator's first light-heavyweight champ, winning the title thanks to a 2011 tournament run, only to lose each of his subsequent fights with the organization. He's appeared undersized at 205, so the move to heavyweight is a little surprising, and ended somewhat predictably, with Stojnic knocking him out in Round 2. M'Pumbu is 1-1 since his tenure with Bellator came to a close. Stojnic, who made his UFC debut against Cain Velasquez, is 8-0 since last appearing in the Octagon, including wins over Ricco Rodriguez and Mighty Mo.

In the night's headliner, Bellator veteran Anthony Dizy (7-2, 0-1 Bellator) and Joao Luis Nogueira faced off in the final match of a four-man, one-night tournament. Nogueira submtted Dizy with a guillotine choke in Round 1, winning the organization's lightweight title in the process.

And at ONE Championship: Kingdom of Champions, former Sengoku tournament finalist Kazunori Yokota's lengthy run of success came to a close with his attempt at champion Marat Gafurov's featherweight title. Yokota, who headed into the bout with the momentum of thirteen straight wins, submitted to a rear-naked choke in Round 2. His overall record falls to 25-6-3 (5-3 Sengoku); Gafurov is undefeated at 14-0-0.

And two weekends ago, in the main event of XFO 58, Rory Markham (17-6, 1-2 UFC, 6-2 IFL) returned to the ring for the first time in over six years, delivering a TKO of Brian Green (31-23, 0-2 Bellator) 66 seconds into Round 1. Markham's last turn in the ring was at UFC 111, in which he was knocked out by Nate Diaz. In the intervening years, the former IFL standout has seen a handful of bouts fall through, including a Bellator debut that was scuttled after Markham was not medically cleared to fight. He was also twice arrested in 2013, first for felony assault and later for domestic battery.

Also on the card, Damian Norris (7-2-0) put away Chris Mickle (30-21-2-1NC, 0-1 WEC) with strikes early in Round 1.

Other Results

M-1 Challenge 66

- Rashid Yusupov (7-2-0) defeats light-heavyweight champion Viktor Nemkov (23-6-0) by split-decision, making for Yusupov's fifth win in a row and halting Nemkov's winning streak at four. 
- Bloody Elbow Scouting Report's Stephan Puetz (14-2-0) defeats Andrey Seledtsov (5-2-0) by unanimous decision. 
- Josh Rettinghouse (13-4, 1-1 WSOF) defeats Vadim Zhlobich (3-3-0) by first-round TKO. Rettinghouse formerly challenged for the WSOF bantamweight title. He is 3-1 since leaving that organization.

Fight Nights Global 48

- Yasubey Enomoto (15-7, 3-1 Sengoku) defeats Stanislav Molodtsov (8-7-0) by unanimous decision. The former Sengoku welterweight contender is 3-2 since 2014.