Mixed Martial Arts Veteran Watch: August 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 August and rather than listing off the top fights outside these major organizations, I highlight some familiar names that you might recognize on upcoming events. August 4th – Tachi PF 28: Hot (Lemoore, California) Jared Papazian (19-12) vs. Casey Kenny (4-0)  UFC vet Papazian looks for back-to-back victories for the first time since 2013 when he takes on undefeated Arizona native Kenny. Since his UFC release in 2012, Papazian has gone 5-3 and has also competed in muay-thai for Lion Fight. Kenny made his pro debut last year and has won three of his four career victories by stoppage.   August 5th – Thunder Fight 8 (Sao Paulo, Brazil) Elias Silvério (12-2) vs. Thiago Lopes (7-6)  Silverio competes for the second time since his UFC release when he squares off with fellow Brazilian Lopes. Silverio went 3-2 in the UFC, losing back to back fights against Rashid Magomedov and Shane Campbell before he was handed his pink slip. Lopes has won seven of his last eight fights and competes for the third time this year. Lucas Martins (16-3) vs. Sergio Leal (5-4)  Martins is one of those rare fighters who was released from the UFC off a win – a split decision victory over Robert Whiteford at UFC Fight Night 86 back in April – and competes outside the UFC for the first time since 2012. He takes on fellow Brazilian Leal, who hasn’t lost a bout since 2012.   August 6th – CFFC 60 (Atlantic City, New Jersey) Nick Pace (7-3) vs. Dominic Mazzotta (10-1)  Former UFC bantamweight Pace competes for the first time his year when he takes on Pinnacle FC vet Mazzotta. After being cut from the UFC in 2011 – following back-to-back losses against Ivan Menjivar and Miguel Torres – Pace stepped away from MMA for four-years and returned last year at CFFC 52, defeating Ricky Bandejas by first round submission. Mazzotta hasn’t lost since a 2014 knockout defeat to Cody Garbrandt and has won seven-straight fights. Matt Hamill (11-7) vs. Dan Spohn (13-5) Unfortunately Matt Hamill had to pull out due to injury.   August 11th – Combate OCHO (Los Angeles, California) Lisa Ellis (15-10) vs. Kyra Batara (5-3) TUF 20’s Ellis competes for the first time since her UFC release when she takes on 21-year old Batara. Ellis lost to Jessica Penne on the show, then suffered back to back submission losses against Felice Herrig and Bec Rawlings. Batara heads into this fight on a three-fight win streak.   August 12th – CES 37: Summer Gold (Lincoln, Rhode Island) Matt Bessette (19-7) vs. Pedro Gonzalez (11-5)  Bellator veteran Bessette looks for his fifth straight win when he takes on Gonzalez. The 31-year old is coming off a first round submission victory over Ran Weathers at CES 36, his fourth straight victory by stoppage. Gonzalez has only fought twice since 2014 and hasn’t tasted defeat since a 2012 unanimous decision setback to Claudio Ledesma at CFFC 13. Chuck O’Neil (16-8) vs. Trent McCown (7-3) TUF 13 competitor O’Neil looks to make it two-straight wins when he takes on 26-year old McCown.  After losing two-straight fights to Dominique Steele and Daniel Vizcaya, O’Neil rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Dennis Olson at CES 33. McCown has lost two of his last three fights and will be making his CES debut.   August 12th – XCC 25 (Hatfield, Pennsylvania)  Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra (18-4) vs. Artur Rofi (7-1)  Former Bellator featherweight Bezerra looks to win back-to-back fights for the first time since 2014 when the takes on Rofi. “Popo” has gone 3-1 since his Bellator release in 2013, with two of those victories coming by stoppage. Rofi fought earlier this year – earning a submission victory over Francisco Isata at XCC 24 – but prior to that hadn’t fought since 2013.   August 13th – Valor Fights 36 (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) Joe Riggs (41-17) vs. Sidney Wheeler (5-0) Riggs competes for the first time since his UFC release as he takes on 20-year old Wheeler. Riggs went 1-3 in his second UFC stint, with his lone victory coming against Ronald Stallings by disqualification. Wheeler made his pro-debut last year and has gone the distance in three of his five career victories. Just for comparison, Riggs has 59-career fights while Wheeler only has 5.   August 13th – Fight Exclusive Night 13: Summer Edition (Gdynia, Poland)  Piotr Hallmann (16-5) vs. Kamil Łebkowski (14-4)  Six time UFC veteran Hallmann looks to make it two-straight wins for the first time since 2013 when he takes on fellow Polish fighter Lebowski. Hallmann lost three straight fights in the UFC last year to Gleison Tibau, Magomed Mustafaev and Alex Oliveria before he was released. He rebounded earlier this year with a split decision victory over Jason Ponet at Slava Republic 1 back in April. Lebkowski has won nine fights in a row and hasn’t tasted defeat since 2013.   August 13th – Aspera FC 43 (Parana, Brazil)  Maniquel Falcao (35-9) vs. Tyago Moreira (10-5)  UFC/Bellator veteran Falcao looks to back back on the winning track when he takes on fellow Brazilian Moreira. The 2012 Bellator tournament winner heads into this matchup off back-to-back losses against Aziz Karaoglu and Ramazan Emeev. Moreira is coming off two-straight knockout victories.   August 13th  – Island Fights 38 (Pensacola, Florida) Keon Caldwell (10-3) vs. Elvin Leon Brito (9-2)  WSOF vet Caldwell looks to get back on the winning track as he battles 30-year old Brito. The 26-year old went 0-2 in WSOF, losing back to back bouts against Nick Newell and most recently Ozzy Dugulubgov. Brito heads into this matchup off back-to-back wins. This card was slated to take place on July 8th, but the event was moved.   August 13th  – WXC 64: Redemption (Taylor, Michigan)  Johnny Bedford (21-12-1) vs. Mike Hernandez (10-3)  UFC vet Bedford looks for his third win in a row when he takes on MTT product Hernandez. Bedford heads into this contest off back-to-back knockout victories over Josh Robinson and Taylor Moore and will be looking for his first three-fight win streak since 2010. Hernandez is coming off his first loss in his last seven fights and has only gone the distance twice during that stretch.   August 19th – RFA 42: Giagos vs. Juusola (Visalia, California) Christos Giagos (12-5) vs. Zach Juusola (11-3)  UFC veteran Giagos looks for his first two-fight win streak since 2014 when he takes on Juusola. Giagos rebounded from a two-fight skid by taking out WEC veteran Karen Darabedyan in the first round at RFA 38 in his last bout. Juusola has won three of his last four fights, with his lone defeat coming to UFC lightweight Mehdi Baghdad at RFA 21. He competes for the first time this year.   August 20th – Absolute Championship Berkut 42: Battle on Sura (Penza, Russia)  Brett Cooper (21-12) vs. Beslan Isaev (34-7)  Former Bellator title challenger Cooper aims to get back on the winning track when he battles Fight Club Berkut product Isaev. Cooper has lost three of his last four fights and heads into this matchup off a first round knockout loss to Maiquel Falcao at KSW 32 last year. Isaev hasn’t lost since 2013 and heads into this matchup on a 10-fight win streak.   August 20th – Dragon House 23 (San Francisco, California) Ron Keslar (11-9) vs. David Douglas (9-6)  Bellator veteran Keslar – perhaps best known for his fights with Rick Hawn, Karo Parysian and War Machine – looks to turn things around against Douglas. Since defeating War Machine in 2013 at Bellator 104, Keslar has lost five-straight fights, with all but one of those fights coming by stoppage. Douglas heads into this matchup off a first round knockout victory over DeMarco Villalona at Dragon House 22 back in February.   August 26th – TFE: Vengeance (Anaheim, California) Joe Stevenson (31-16) vs. Gabriel Miglioli (9-7)  TUF 2 winner Stevenson competes for the just the second time since 2014 when he takes on Bellator veteran Migliotti. Stevenson has lost six-straight fights and will be looking for his first win since 2009. Migliotti has lost two of his last three fights, including a unanimous decision defeat to UFC lightweightt Darrell Horcher at CFFC 35 last year. Jesse Taylor (29-14) vs. Seth Baczynski (19-13)  TUF 7 finalist Taylor looks to snap a two-fight losing streak when he takes on fellow UFC veteran Baczynski. Taylor has lost five of his last seven fights with all of those losses coming by way of submission. Baczynski heads into this contest on a three-fight losing streak and competes for the first time since his UFC release. 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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