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 June 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.
PFL 2018 #3: Regular Season – July 5 (Washington, D.C)
Jake Shields (32-9-1) vs. Ray Cooper III (13-5)
Former UFC title challenger Shields looks for back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 2015 when he faces “Bradda Boy” Cooper. Shields hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision victory over Danny Davis Jr. at PFL: Everett in July 2017. Prior to that, Shields lost two straight fights to Rousimar Palhares and Jon Fitch. Cooper is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Handesson Ferreira which snapped his two-fight win streak.
Rick Story (19-9) vs. Yuri Villefort (11-5)
Former UFC welterweight Story competes for the first time since Aug. 2016 when he faces fellow UFC vet Villefort. Story has won three of his last four fights however is coming off a TKO loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 202. Meanwhile Villefort has won five-straight fights.
Eddie Gordon (8-4) vs. Shamil Garnzatov (11-0)
TUF 19 Winner Gordon looks for his first two-fight win streak since July 2014 when he faces undefeated Russian Garnzatov. Gordon was ousted from TUF 25 after losing to Tom Gallicchio via submission. Garnzatov meanwhile has won 10 of his 11 career fights by stoppage and competes for the first time since Jan. 2017.
John Howard (25-13) vs. Gasan Umalatov (17-5-1)
A pair of UFC veterans face off in a middleweight bout as “Doomsday” battles Umalatov. Howard has won two of his last three fights including a unanimous decision win over Roger Carrol at CES 46. Umalatov meanwhile makes his PFL debut and is riding a two-fight win streak, both knockouts.
Paul Bradley (23-8) vs. Joao Zeferino (21-9)
UFC and Bellator vet Bradly looks to avoid three-straight losses for the first time in his career when he faces off with former WSOF title challenger Zeferino. Bradley is coming off back-to-back decision losses to Yushin Okami and Alexander Shlemenko and competes for the first time since Mar. 2017. Zeferino meanwhile has lost three of his last four fights and will be looking for his first win since Oct. 2016.
Bojan Velickovic (15-6-1) vs. Jonatan Westin (10-2)
Former UFC welterweight Velickovic competes outside the UFC for the first time since Jan. 2016 when he faces Westin who makes his North American debut. Velickovic went 2-3-1 with the UFC earning wins over Alessio Di Chirico, Nico Muskoke and losing to Sultan Alev, Darren Till and Jake Matthews. Westin meanwhile is riding a six-fight win streak, with five of those wins coming by stopage.
RFC Way of the Dragon 2: Taiwan Pro Combat Championship – July 7 (Taipei City, Taiwan)
Will Chope (34-14) vs. Mario Schembri (31-5)
UFC veteran Chope looks to snap a three-fight skid when he battles Brazilian fighter Schembri. The 27-year-old is coming off a submission loss to Yukinari Tamura at Shooto Torao 21 in September, which was his fourth loss in his last five fights. Meanwhile Schembri heads into this matchup on a four-fight win streak.
RCC 3: Russian Cagefighting Championship 3 – July 9 (Yekaterinburg, Russia)
Aleksander Emelianenko (27-7) vs. Viktor Pesta (13-4)
Former PRIDE star Emelianenko looks for his fitfth win in a row when he faces UFC veterean Pesta. The 36-year-old has gone 6-1 in his last seven fights with all of those wins coming by stoppage. Emealianenko hasn’t gone the distance since Sept. 2012. Pesta meanwhile has remained undefeated since leaving the UFC last year, going a perfect 3-0.
Elias Silverio (14-3-1) vs. Nikolay Aleksakhin (21-5)
UFC veteran Silverio looks to push his unbeaten streak to four-straight as he battles Russian fighter Aleksakin in a welterweight bout. Since he was released from the UFC in 2015, Silverio has gone 3-1-1, including a unanimous decision win over Saygid Izagakhmaev in his last bout at Fight Nights Global 87 in May. Aleksakhin meanwhile heads into this matchup on a three-fight win streak and has gone 3-1 since losing to Ben Askren at ONE Championship: Global Rivals back in Apr. 2016.
LFA 45 – July 20 (Cabazon, California)
Erick Silva (19-9) vs. Nick Barnes (12-3)
Former UFC welterweight Silva competes outside the UFC for the first time since Oct. 2010 when he faces former RFA title challenger Barnes. Silva had lost four of his last five fights, including a unanimous decision setback to Jordan Mein at UFC on FOX 26 in December. Barnes meanwhile has been finshed in two of his last three fights, including a TKO loss to Curtis Millender at LFA 30 in January.
Kyler Phillips (5-0) vs. Jordan Winski (9-1)
TUF 27 compettitor Phillips looks to keep his undefeated record in tact when he faces 29-year-old Winski. Phillips was defeated by Brad Katona in the quarterfinals of The Ultimate Fighter 27 tournament in an exhibition bout. Winski meanwhile is riding a five-fight win streak and comptes in his second-straight fight for LFA.
XFFC 18 – July 21 (Penticton, B.C)
Matt Dwyer (10-4) vs. Dominique Steele (17-10)
Two former UFC fighters square off for the promotions vacant middleweight title as Canadian Dwyer faces off with Steele. Dwyer captured the BFL middleweight title in his last bout earning a split decision win over Chris “Bukwas” Anderson at BFL 53 in January. The 28-year-old has won back-to-back fights. Steele meanwhile has won three of his last four fights including a unanimous decision win over Travis Davis at Alliance MMA back in last month.
ACB 89 – July 21 (Limassol, Cyprus)
Daniel Sarafian (11-6) vs. Ily Bochkov (4-2)
UFC/Bellator veteran Sarafian looks for his third-straight win when he faces 32-year-old Bochkov in a light heavyweight. Sarafian, who fought as low as welterweight during his UFC career, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Carlos Eduardo at ACB 82. Bochkov meanwhile is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Amirkhan Guliev at ACB 80 and he’ll look to avoid two-straight losses for the first time in his career.
Mac Danzig (22-12-1) vs. Viskhan Magomadov (7-3)
UFC/PRIDE veteran Danzig comptes for just the second time since 2014 when he faces Magomadov. The 38-year-old will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since April 2008. Magomedov meanwhile has won five of his last six fights.
Invicta FC 30 – July 21 (Kansas City, MI)
Heather Jo Clark (7-6) vs. Kinberly Novaes (9-4)
TUF 20 and UFC vet Clark competes for the first time since Nov. 2016 when she faces Brazil’s Novaes. Clark has lost two-straight fights and will be looking for her first win since Dec. 2012. Novaes is 2-2 in her last four fights and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Janasia Moradin at Invicta FC 26 in December.
Cagesport 52 – July 21 (Tacoma, Washington)
Anthony Hamilton (16-9) vs. Matt Kovacs (14-17)
Former UFC heayweight Hamilton looks for back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 2014 when he faces fellow American Kovacs. The 38-year-old is coming off a second-round submission victory over Randa Zarza at Combat Games 61 in his first fight since leaving the UFC. Kovacs meanwhile has won three of his last four fights.
LFA 46 – July 27 (Newport News Virginia)
Alexandre Bezerra (20-5) vs. Mike Pope (7-3)
Bellator veteran Bezerra fights for the first time this year as he faces Pope in a featherweight affair. Bezerra has won three of his last four fights, with his lone loss coming against undefeated featherweight Andre Harrison at TItan FC 41. Pope meanwhile is coming off a TKO loss to Joseph Lowry at CFFC 65 and is 2-2 in his last four fights.
Iron Boy MMA 12 – July 28 (Phoenix, Arizona)
Johnny Case (23-6) vs. Jeff Fletcher (14-13)
Former UFC lightweight Case looks for two-straight wins for the first time since Nov. 2015 when he faces 37-year-old Fletcher. Case rebounded from a two-fight skid when he defeated Brandon Logano at Beatdown 21 in March. Since losing five-straight fights, Fletcher has won two of his last three fights heading into this matchup.
RIZIN 11 – July 29th (Saitama. Japan)
Kyoji Horiguchi (24-2) vs. Hiromasa Ogikubo (17-3-2)
Top flyweight Horiguchi looks for his 10th win in a row when he faces fellow Japanese fighter Ogikubo. The 27-year-old is coming off a nine-second TKO win over UFC veteran Ian McCall at RIZIN 10. Ogikubo meanwhile is coming off a submission win over Tadaaki Yamamoto at Shooto in October and has won seven straight fights.
Takanori Gomi (35-15) vs. Andy Souwer (2-3)
UFC/PRIDE veteran Gomi looks to snap his six fight losing streak when he faces kickboxing star Souwer. Gomi dropped his RIZIN debut back in December as he was submitted in the first round by Yuske Yachi at RIZIN WGP 2017. Gomi will be looking for his first win since Apr. 2014. Souwer meanwhile is coming off a unanimous decision losss to Akiyo Nishiura for RIZIN back in October.
Rin Nakai (20-2-1) vs. Shizuka Sugiyama (16-5-1)
Former UFC bantamweight Nakai looks ofr her fifth straight win when she faces Sugiyama in a flyweight bout. Nakai has finished all of her opponents since leaving the UFC in 2016, including a TKO win over Young Ji Kim at DEEP 82 in Feburary. Sugiyama meanwhile ha won two of her last three fights.
Daron Cruickshank (20-10) vs. Tom Santos (9-5)
UFC veteran Cruickshank looks for three-straight wins for the first time since Dec. 2011 when he faces Brazil’s Santos. Cruickshank headsin to this matchup off back-to-back knockout wins over Alexander Trevino and Koshi Matsumuto. Santos meanwhile makes his RIZIN debut and has won six of his last seven fights.
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.