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Beyond the Octagon: TUF finalists break even as UFC vets go 10-5

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Your weekly look at how MMA's big-show veterans are fairing on the regional circuit.

Welcome to another edition of Beyond the Octagon, where we break down how former fighters of the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, and PRIDE are doing in smaller shows around the world.

At Kunlun 45, the prolific finalists of TUF: China continued to find success on the Chinese circuit, albeit against the sort of under-experienced opponent that has become a fixture of their MMA diets. TUF winner Zhang Lipeng (17-9-1, 2-2 UFC) improved to 8-0 since being released from the UFC last year thanks to a first-round submission of Jan Quaeyhaegens (2-2-0).

And earlier in the night, fellow TUF runner-up Wang Sai (15-6-1, 1-1 UFC) rebounded from a loss last month with a unanimous-decision-worthy effort against Koji Shikuwa (1-2-0), pushing Wang's post-Octagon mark to 7-1.

Other TUF finalists last weekend didn't fair quite so well.

At Absolute Championship Berkut 40, Jesse Taylor (29-14, 0-1 UFC, 1-1 WSOF, 0-2 Strikeforce, 1-0 Dream) submitted to a guillotine from Aslambek Saidov (19-4-0) in the opening round of their headlining bout. Taylor, who in 2008 was removed from his spot in the TUF 7 finals against Amir Sadollah following a boozy rampage through a Fertitta-owned casino, has long skirted the edge of the MMA spotlight. Through forays into Canada, Russia, and Australia he's earned victories over the likes of Chris Camozzi, Murilo Bustamante, Tom Watson, Denis Kang, Michail Tsarev, and Kendall Grove, but he was never able to establish himself in a major MMA organization. This latest defeat drops him to 2-4 since his last major appearance--a fight with David Branch for the vacant WSOF middleweight title. Three of his last four losses have come in the first round, by some form of choke.

TUF alumni continued to struggle at Florida's Final Fight Championship 24, where TUF 19 finalist Matt Van Buren (7-5, 0-2 UFC) fell to the strikes of Jeremy Kimball a mere 14 seconds into Round 1. Van Buren, who was also knocked out in both of his official UFC appearances, is 1-1 since being released in January of 2015. Kimball, meanwhile, improves to 13-5-0 (1-1 Bellator); he's won three straight and stands at 3-1 since his stint in Bellator.

Also on the card, Bellator lightweight tournament finalist Des Green (17-5, 3-2 Bellator) captured his second win in a row with a unanimous decision over Dez Hill (7-3-0). Green is 5-2 since parting ways with Bellator, including victories over UFC vets Miguel Tprres and Steven Siler.

In the night's co-main event, Blackzilians rep Valdir Araujo (16-7-0) slipped to 2-2 since his appearance on TUF 21, eating a head-kick from Roberto Neves (8-3-0), which left BBMonstro laid out on the canvas some 90 seconds into the first. Araujo has been (T)KO'd in six of his seven losses.

And in the main event, Danillo Villefort (15-5, 1-1 WSOF, 0-1 Strikeforce, 0-1 UFC, 1-0 WEC) returned from a three-year hiatus to score a third-round TKO of Thiago Rela (9-5-0).

And at the unfortunately titled KOTC: Wipeout, Fabiano Scherner (11-10, 0-2 UFC, 0-1 IFL) returned from a four-year hiatus for a headlining bout with D.J. Linderman (19-11, 0-1 WSOF, 1-1 Bellator). Scherner made his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 2 against fellow debutante Brandon Vera; Scherner put Vera in several tough spots in the opening round but faded badly in Round 2, during which Vera put him away with knees. Scherner's last major appearance was at IFL 20, when he challenged for Roy Nelson's heavyweight title; he lost via first-round TKO. A subsequent 3-5 run saw him ostensibly retire from competition, with 9 of his 10 career losses coming by strikes, or submission due to strikes. With that in mind, it should come as some surprise that, against a brawler like Linderman, it was Scherner who walked away with a TKO victory, finishing "Da Protege" in the opening round. Linderman has now lost two straight and is 2-2 since 2015; Scherner is 3-1 in his last four.

Other Results

Unified MMA 27

- Upstart heavyweight Tanner Boser (10-2-0) defeats champion Tony Lopez (42-23, 0-1 Bellator) following a unanimous decision after five-rounds.

DEEP JEWELS 12

- Former Invicta atomweight contender Naho Sugiyama (12-4, 0-1 Invicta) defeats Emi Tomimatsu (11-11-0) by unanimous decision. Sugiyama is 4-3 since her title fight with Jessica Penne.

Scandinavian Fight Nights 1

- David Bielkheden (22-12, 1-2 UFC, 0-1 PRIDE) defeats Adrian Grec (7-4-0) by unanimous decision to become the organization's welterweight champion. Bielkheden has won four straight, including wins over UFC vets Cody McKenzie and Besam Yousef. 
- Niklas Backstrom (10-2, 1-2 UFC) defeats Danijel Kokora (7-8-0) by rear-naked choke in Round 1, improving to 2-0 since being released by the UFC. 
- Chris Spang (6-3, 0-1 UFC, 2-1 Strikeforce) returns to the win column with a first-round TKO of Andrei Vasinca (3-7-0).

RFA 38

- Christos Giagos (12-5, 1-2 UFC) captures his first post-Octagon victory with a TKO of former WEC standout Karen Darabedyan (12-6, 1-2 WEC). Giagos is 1-1 since being released from the UFC; Darabedyan is 3-1 since his return to competition. 
- Nick Barnes (11-1, 1-0 Bellator) defeats Jose Diaz (6-2-0) by unanimous decision.

GOTC MMA 21

- Adam Hunter (7-1-0) puts away Chris Dempsey (11-5, 1-3 UFC) with strikes in the opening minute of Round 1. Hunter has won seven straight; Dempsey suffers his first loss following his UFC release.
- TUF 19's Dan Spohn (13-5, 0-1 UFC) defeats Rob Morrow (20-19-1) by second-round TKO. Spohn is 5-1 since his lone UFC appearance, losing to fellow UFC vet Rodney Wallace during that span.

Cage Warriors 76

- Andreas Stahl (10-2, 0-2 UFC) wins his first bout since being released from the UFC, defeating Lewis Long (12-4-0) by third-round TKO. Stahl remains undefeated outside the Octagon.

Shamrock FC: Explosion

- Kyle Kurtz (6-2, 2-0 Bellator) defeats TUF 17's Adam Cella (0-1 UFC, 0-1 WSOF, 0-2 Bellator) by first-round armbar. The two fought last year in Bellator, with Kurtz also walking away with the armbar victory.