Among all the things MMA fans like to chew over, the matter of wasted talent is probably one of the tastiest. Vitor Belfort and B.J. Penn are, of course, perennial favorites for this dubious honor. There was a time that Robbie Lawler, currently the UFC's most successful welterweight champion since Georges St. Pierre, would've been found on such a list, too. And once in a while, you might find BJJ luminary Robert Drysdale crop up on the margins of the conversation.
Drysdale's UFC career was about as disappointing as it gets for a highly anticipated prospect: his debut was pushed back three months due to a staph infection, and the follow-up bout was scrapped when Drysdale showed elevated testosterone levels. Despite this inauspicious beginning, Drysdale was given a third shot inside the Octagon, finally making his debut at the TUF 19 finale, where he made short work of Keith Berish. Drysdale's subsequent drug test would see that victory turned to a no-contest and finally result in his release from the UFC. Now, nearly two years to the day since his lone UFC appearance, Drysdale has returned to MMA competition.
At Legacy FC 58, Drysdale faced Ryan Spann (9-3-0) in a main event bout for the organization's light-heavyweight title. And while Spann's own record implies a fair amount of grappling savvy (seven of his nine victories have come by submission) Drysdale's fearsome ground game once again won out, as Spann tapped to a rear-naked choke mid-way through Round 2. Drysdale remains undefeated at 7-0 (1NC), but at 34, with multiple test failures to his name, it's uncertain if he'll ever make a serious run in a major MMA organization.
And in Tokyo, Pancrase put on a stacked card featuring several veterans of the UFC and PRIDE.
In the headliner, TUF 15 winner Jonathan Brookins (15-8, 2-3 UFC) rematched Pancrase's long-reigning bantamweight champion Shintaro Ishiwatari (21-6-4). Brookins took a unanimous decision over Ishiwatari in a non-title affair two years ago but has been sidelined by injury since then. Meanwhile, Ishiwatari has won two straight. The champion kept momentum on his side last week, as Ishiwatari evened the score with Brookins via a unanimous decision verdict. The loss pushes Brookins's post-UFC record to 2-2.
Also fighting that night was former title challenger and perennial Top 10 middleweight Yushin Okami (32-10, 13-5 UFC), who continued his run of success in Japan with a first-round rear-naked choke of Shingo Suzuki (13-10-3), thus making for his first set of consecutive victories in three years. Okami is 3-2 since he was rather unfairly released from the UFC in 2013.
Also on the card was Rin Nakai, who was looking to rebound from the March loss to Leslie Smith that saw her released from the UFC. For her return bout, Nakai was tasked with Emiko Raika (2-4-0), whose slim MMA record belies a lengthy boxing career during which she held several titles. Regardless, the younger Nakai would win out, finishing Raika with elbows in Round 3. Nakai's overall record stands at 17-2-1 (0-2 UFC).
Earlier that night, Yuki Kondo (59-31-9, 0-2 Sengoku, 1-6 PRIDE, 1-2 UFC), who has been fighting for Pancrase for 20 years, looked for his second win in a row against novice Akihiro Takanabe (2-1-0). Despite Kondo's colossal edge in experience, which includes wins over Evangelista Santos, Mario Sperry, and Akihiro Gono, Takanabe would walk away with a major upset in his pocket, receiving a unanimous decision after three. This latest loss puts Kondo at 1-2 since 2015.
And former Bellator contender Rafael Silva (27-5, 3-2 Bellator) continued his run of success, taking a unanimous decision over ONE Championships tournament winner Masakatsu Ueda (22-5-2, 0-1 Bellator). Silva is 5-0 since parting ways with Bellator. Ueda sees a recent win streak halted at four.
Imortal FC 5
- Wendell Oliveira (26-10, 0-2 UFC) defeats Gilmar Dutra Lima (26-16-1) by unanimous decision, winning his second straight and improving to 2-1 since being cut from the UFC last year.
- Raymond Pina (8-2, 0-1 Bellator) defeats Estevan Payan (16-10, 0-3 UFC, 2-0 Strikeforce, 0-1 Bellator) by unanimous decision. Payan is 1-4 in his last five.