Mixed Martial Arts Veteran Watch: February 2016

61f9e7fc98b11beda1f7427d58379565When fighters are given their release from a major North American MMA promotion like the UFC, Bellator or WSOF – 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, I take a look at some regional/overseas matchups for the month of February and rather than listing off the top fights outside these major organizations, I highlight some familiar names that you might recognize on upcoming events.   Feb 5th – Legacy FC 51 (Hinkley, Minnesota) Brock Larson (41-10) vs. Travis Coyle (13-7)  UFC/WEC veteran Larson will be competing in his retirement fight against Victory FC veteran Coyle. Larson has gone 4-2 in his last six fights, including his run in the Battlegrounds welterweight tournament where he made it to the finals – before losing to Roan Carneiro. Coyle is also 4-2 in his last six, with his losses being to former UFC fighters Josh Neer and Issac Vallie-Flagg. Jacob Volkman (18-6) vs. Antonio Trocoli (9-0)  UFC/WSOF veteran Volkman looks for back to back wins for the first time since 2011 when he fights undefeated Brazillian Trocoli. The 35-year old is coming off a first round submission victory over Zak Ottow at Legacy FC 43 last July. Trocoli makes his North American debut and has won seven of his nine career fights by stoppage.   Feb 5th – Absolute Championship Berkut 29 (Warsaw, Poland) Pawel Pawlak (11-2) vs. Emil Różewski (6-1)  Pawlak competes for the first time since his UFC release when he meets fellow Polish fighter Rozewski. The 26-year old went 1-2 in the UFC with a win over Sheldon Westcott and losses to Peter Sobotta and Leon Edwards. Różewski suffered the first loss of his career in his last fight – a majority decision loss to Imran Abaev at Absolute Championship Berkut 22.   Feb 6th – KOTC: No Fear (Lincoln City, Oregon) Ian Loveland (17-10) vs. Enoch Wilson (19-9-2)  Former UFC bantamweight Loveland competes for the first time since 2014, when he takes on Wilson in a rematch of their 2006 encounter. Loveland fought Tyler Toner, Joseph Benavidez and Yves Jabouin in his UFC career and finished with a 1-2 record in the octagon before his UFC release in 2011. Wilson has won three-straight fights and is known primarily for his fight with Uriah Faber which was featured on MSNBC’s “Warrior Nation” series in 2007.   Feb 6th – Elite Warrior Challenge 9: Takeover (Salem, Virginia) Matt Van Buren (6-4) vs. Derrick Weaver (3-4) Van Buren competes for the first time since his UFC release against 25-year old Weaver. Van Buren suffered back to back defeats to Corey Anderson and Sean O’Connell which prompted his departure from the Las Vegas based promotion. Weaver is 2-2 in his last four fights. Charles Bennett (27-28-2) vs. Terrell Hobbs (9-10) Bennett looks for his first two-fight win streak since 2011 when he faces Bellator vet Hobbs. 36-year old Bennett returned to action back in October where he knocked out Danny Black in the first round at KOTC: Harvest of Champions. Hobbs has lost four in a row and will be looking for his first win since June 2013.   Feb 6th – Dragon House 22 (San Francisco, California) Ron Keslar (11-8) vs. Don Mohammed (3-0) Bellator veteran Keslar looks to get back on the winning track as he faces undefeated 25-year old Mohammed. After winning his first two Bellator bouts, Keslar has been on the worst slide of his career losing four fights in a row. Mohammed meanwhile hasn’t competed since November 2014.   Feb 7th –WSOF Global Championship 2: Japan (Tokyo, Japan) Akihiro Gono (34-19-8) vs. Miroslav Štrbák (12-5-1)  PRIDE/UFC/Bellator veteran Gono competes for the first time since 2014 when he takes on Slovakia’s Strbak. Gono retired after his loss to Michael Chandler at Bellator 67, however has competed three times since then going 2-0-1 during that span. Strbak has gone 3-2 in his last five fights and has only gone the distance twice in his career. Michihiro Omigawa (16-14-1) vs. Teddy Violet (10-1-0)  Former DREAM and UFC fighter Omigawa looks for his fourth-straight win when he meets 24-year old French fighter Violet. Since losing four fights in a row between 2012-2013, the 40-year old Japanese fighter has won his last three fights – two of which were by submission. Violet has one blemish on his resume – a submission loss to Tom Duqesnoy at BAMMA 15  in 2014 – but has won 7 of his 11 fights by stoppage.   Feb 19th – XCC 23 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Marcus Brimage (7-5) vs. Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra (17-4)   UFC veteran Brimage faces off with former Bellator featherweight Bezerra. Brimage was slated to fight at Fight Night Calgary back on Jan. 23rd but the promoter cancelled the entire card on the day of the event, so he was left in the cold (literally, Calgary is really cold this time of year!). Bezerra hasn’t competed since a 2014 decision loss to Levan Makashvili at CFFC 44. Prior to that, “Popo” had won two straight fights.   Feb 19th – M-1 Challenge 64: Volkov vs. Smoldarev (Moscow, Russia) Alexander Volkov (24-6-0) vs. Denis Smoldarev (11-1)  Former Bellator heavyweight champion Volkov competes for the first time since leaving the Viacom owned promotion and takes on Estonia fighter Smoldarev. The 27-year old Russian comes into the fight off back to back losses against Tony Johnson Jr. and Cheick Kongo. Aside from a 2014 submission loss to Marcin Tybura at M-1 Challenge 53, Smoldarev has won all of his fights and has only gone the distance three times in his career. Alexander Shelmenko (51-9-0) vs. Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (27-3-0) Former Bellator 185lb champ Shlemenko takes on former M-1 middleweight champion Vasilevsky. This is a semi-final match as part of a Grand Prix M1 is running. The 31-year old is currently serving a suspension in California due to PED’s, which is why he’s fighting in his native Russia instead of the United States. Shelmenko is 1-2 in his last three fights. Vasilevsky meanwhile has gone 10-1 in his last 11 fights.   Feb 20th – British Challenge MMA 14 (Moscow, Russia) Luke Barnatt (9-3) vs. Rafael Silva (40-15)  Barnatt looks for his second straight win since being released from the UFC when he meets 55-fight veteran Silva. Barnatt is coming off a fourth round submission victory over Mattia Schiavolin in his last fight at Venator FC 2. Silva snapped a two-fight skid in his last fight, defeating Abdulmazhid Magomedov by second round submission at MFP: Cup of Vladivostok 2015. John Maguire (20-8) vs. Manuel Garcia (27-19)  UFC veteran Maguire looks for his first two-fight win streak since 2012 when he meets Spanish fighter Garcia. Maguire snapped a two-fight skid after defeating Alexandre Roumette at British Challenge MMA 12 last October. Garcia meanwhile has lost three fights in a row.   Feb 26th – Fight Nights: Battle 21 (Moscow, Russia) Alexander “Tiger” Sarnavskiy (32-3-0) vs. Murad Machaev (18-1-0)  Former Bellator tournament finalist Sarnavskiy looks for his third win in a row as he faces fellow Russian fighter Machaev. Since leaving Bellator last year, “Tiger” has won back to back fights over UFC vet Jesse Ronson and Brazilian Leandro Rodrigues. Machaev – another Bellator veteran – hasn’t lost since a 2012 defeat to Marcin Held at Bellator 77 and has won nine fights in a row. Is there a notable MMA veteran competing this month that I missed? Hit me up on Twitter @LynchOnSports and I’ll add them in.

Written by James Lynch

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