Mixed Martial Arts Veteran Watch: January 2018

When fighters are given their release from a major North American MMA promotion like the UFC or Bellator – unless they’re a major star – they often fall into obscurity on the regional/overseas circuit unless they rack up a few wins and end up signing with one of the aforementioned promotions. In this regular feature for MMAOddsBreaker.com, I take a look at some regional/overseas MMA matchups for the month of January and rather than listing off the top fights outside these major organizations, I highlight some familiar names that you might recognize on upcoming fight cards.

SteelFist Fight Night 55: Opposites Attack – Jan. 13 (Salt Lake City, Utah) 

Clay Collard (14-7) vs. Troy Dennison (8-4) 
UFC veteran Collard competes for the first time since September 2015 when he takes on 29-year-old Dennison. Collard went 1-3 in the UFC, defeating Alex White and losing matchups to Max Holloway, Gabriel Benitiez and most recently Tiago Trator. The 24-year-old will be looking for his first win since Dec. 2014. Dennison has won back-to-back fights by knockout and has won five of his last six fights. 

Spartacus Fighting Championship 6: Warrior Honour – Jan. 13 (Sofia, Bulgaria)

James Thompson (20-16) vs. John Demmel (8-1) 
39-year-old Elite XC/Bellator veteran Thompson looks for his first win since June 2014 when he faces Demmel. Thompson has lost three-fights in a row and has competed just once since 2016. Demmell is riding a six-fight win streak with all of those wins coming by stoppage. 

BFL 53 – Jan. 13 (Coquitlam, British Columbia)

Matt Dwyer (9-4) vs. Chris Anderson (6-0) 
UFC veteran Dwyer fights BFL middleweight champion Anderson in a matchup that was slated to take place in December at BFL 52 before the current champion withdrew from the fight hours before due to an illness. Dwyer competes for the first time since July 2016 while Anderson has won five of his six career fights by stoppage. 

ACB 79: Grozny – Jan. 20 (Gronzy, Russia) 

Zach Makovsky (20-9) vs. Kurban Gadzhiev (13-2) 
Matchup cancelled due to an injury to Makovsky 

Efrain Escudero (28-13) vs. Rasul Shovhalov (15-5) 
TUF 8 winner Escudero looks to bounce back from his loss at ACB 74 when he takes on 27-year-old Shovahalov. Escudero has won two of his last three fights and will look to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since April 2016. Shovahalov has won four of his last five fights, including a TKO win over UFC veteran Tiago Trator in his last bout at ACB 67. 

LFA 32 – Jan. 26 (Lake Charles, Louisiana)

Alex Nicholson (10-4) vs. Ryan Spann (12-5) – Vacant Light Heavyweight title 
Former UFC light heavyweight Nicholson looks for his fourth win in a row when he takes on Contender Series’ Spann for the vacant LFA light heavyweight title. Nicholson went 1-3 in the UFC, earning a win over Devin Clark and suffering losses to Misha Cirkunov, Sam Alvey and Jack Hermansson. Since being released from the UFC, “The Spartan” has earned three-straight wins by knockout. Spann rebounded from his loss to Karl Robertson on the Contender Series by earning back-to-back wins in LFA against Lemarcus Tucker and most recently TUF 23’s Myron Dennis. 

Is there a notable MMA veteran competing this month that I missed? Or is there a matchup that has been changed? Hit me up on Twitter @LynchOnSports, and I’ll add it in or fix it up. Thanks.

Written by James Lynch

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