Beyond the Octagon: former champ Ricco Rodriguez returns, Bellator’s Stepanyan KOs UFC’s Yagin

We start off part two of this week's regional coverage with former Bellator heavyweight Thiago Santos. Also known as "Big Monster," Santos had a…

By: Rainer Lee | 8 years ago
Beyond the Octagon: former champ Ricco Rodriguez returns, Bellator’s Stepanyan KOs UFC’s Yagin
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

We start off part two of this week’s regional coverage with former Bellator heavyweight Thiago Santos.

Also known as “Big Monster,” Santos had a two-year, 3-2 run with Bellator that was remarkable not so much for any winning performance as for an astounding series of gaffes involving quasi-nemesis Eric Prindle. Their first bout came to an abrupt halt following a giant-sized kick to Prindle’s groin, resulting in a No Contest. A pair of rematches were then scuttled, the first because Prindle fell ill, and the second because Santos missed the heavyweight limit. Finally, a year later, when the rematch did finally take place, Prindle decided to give some of that groin-kicking he’d heard so much about a try, ax-kicking Santos’s “little monsters” into a dimension of deep sorrow and limitless madness. Santos would exit Bellator following two subsequent first-round TKO losses.

Last Friday, Santos, who also lost by guillotine in the opening round of TUF: Brazil 3, would once again see victory elude him; in the main event of Face to Face 9, Santos succumbed to the punches of Vinicius Lima late in the second round. Lima improves his record to 9-3-0. Santos, meanwhile, falls to 11-5-0. This is his fourth straight loss.

Also on Friday, Titan FC 32 featured some familiar faces, beginning with Iliarde Santos (29-9-1-2NC, 0-3 UFC). It was Santos’s first bout since his UFC release in October 2013, and it marked a successful return to competition for the Brazilian, who defeated Nick Honstein (16-9-0) by unanimous decision.

Further up the card, former Bellator mainstay Rick Hawn took his first fight outside that organization in nearly five years, beating Carlo Prater (31-15-1, 1-2 UFC, 1-0 Strikefroce, 0-2 WEC) by unanimous decision. Hawn, who composed a 10-4 record in Bellator that included several successful tournament runs, improves his overall record to 19-4-0.

And in the main event, Des Green (14-3, 3-2 Bellator) bested Steven Siler (23-14, 5-4 UFC), also by unanimous decision. Green is 2-0 since he was cut from Bellator, while Siler is 0-1 since his release from the UFC in July following three straight losses in the Octagon.

And on Saturday, at Arena Tour 4 in Buenos Aires, Pat Healy (27-20-1NC, 0-4-1NC UFC) took a split-decision over Ricardo Tirloni (18-6, 3-4 Bellator) in the night’s main event. Healy is 1-0 since his UFC release, while Tirloni’s post-Bellator record falls to 2-1.

Over in Russia, at Far Eastern Modern Pankration Federation: Russia’s MMA Supercup (whoa!), the troubles continued for hard-luck case Eddie Yagin (16-7-1, 1-1 UFC), who suffered a knockout by headkick in Round 2 of his bout with Akop Stepanyan (16-7, 1-4 Bellator). Yagin took an unexpected split-decision over Mark Hominick at 2012’s UFC 145 but would be unable to build off that upset victory. He was slated to fight at UFC 151, which was infamously cancelled, and his rescheduled bout had to be called off after a sparring injury revealed swelling around his brain. Yagin was later medically cleared, but the UFC terminated his contract anyway, landing Yagin back on the regionals, where he’s now lost two straight. As for Stepanyan, he’s 3-0, all by (T)KO, since his exit from Bellator.

Watch Stepanyan vs. Yagin here. The finish comes about 11 minutes in.

Also on the card, Mike Kyle (20-12-1-2NC, 0-2 WSOF, 3-4-1 Strikeforce, 2-1 UFC) dropped his third straight fight, this one to Evgeny Erokhin (9-4-0). After a narrow first round, Erokhin, his eye bloodied from a steady regimen of jabs from Kyle, took to rushing forward with lunging hooks, frequently backing Kyle up against the ropes. One such flurry, three minutes into the second, ultimately finished Kyle, giving Erokhin his fourth straight (T)KO win.

Erokhin vs. Kyle can be seen here. Fight starts at 4:07.

And in Croatia, at Final Fight Championship 17, former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez (53-22-1NC, 5-2 UFC, 3-1 PRIDE) sought out his second straight victory. Standing in his way was the well-traveled Dion Staring (31-10, 0-1 Strikeforce). A notably slimmed-down Rodriguez started out well enough, appearing light and relatively comfortable on his feet. It would be Staring, though, who would land a surprising front kick to the jaw mid-way through the first, promptly dropping Rodriguez to the mat, where he remained for much of the remaining round, struggling under Staring’s ground-and-pound. There’d be much of the same in Round 2, wearing Rodriguez out to the point that he couldn’t answer the bell for Round 3, giving Staring the TKO victory. Staring has won three in a row (all by submission or TKO), and he’s 3-2 since his lone appearance in Strikeforce. Rodriguez is 4-3 in the last two years.

Staring vs. Rodriguez, Round 1, is here. Round 2 is here.

Heading into Sunday now, at Heat 34 in Japan, Motonobu Tezuka (23-9-5, 0-2 UFC) saw a three-fight winning streak come to a close as he dropped a unanimous decision to Takeshi Kasugai (14-3-1). Tezuka is 4-3-1 since he was released from the UFC in early 2013.

And at Shooto Brasil 52 in Rio de Janeiro, Wagnney Fabiano returned to action after two years away from the ring.

In the late aughts, Fabiano (16-4, 1-1 Bellator, 4-2 WEC, 6-0 IFL) climbed into the Top 10 of the featherweight division, becoming the first and only IFL featherweight champion and enjoying a subsequent, winning run in the WEC. Injuries have largely kept him out of competition since his last WEC bout in 2010; he’s only competed twice in the last four years. Fabiano made a strong statement in his return bout last Sunday, however, locking up an armbar on Edinelson Cordeiro (4-5-0) in the opening round.

Finally, at Real 1 in Tokyo Japan on Tuesday, Kron Gracie (1-0-0), youngest son of Rickson Gracie, became the latest of that BJJ dynasty to make his MMA debut, submitting Hyung Soo Kim (0-1-0) by armbar in just over a minute.

Check out Gracie vs. Kim here. Note that classic Gracie stomp.

Also on the card, old-school JMMA star Sanae Kikuta (31-9-3-1NC, 2-1 Sengoku, 3-1-1 PRIDE, 1-0 UFC) fought relative novice Kenan Song (3-0-0) who, in only his first year as a professional, earned the upset victory by way of unanimous decision.

Olympic wrestler Kazuyuki Miyata (14-9, 4-3 Dream) was also featured on the card, returning to competition after two years and a day away from fighting. He was matched with Askar Umbetov (1-2-0). Miyata struggled early in his MMA career, matched as he was with the likes of Royler Gracie, Genki Sudo, and Norifumi Yamamoto. “Little Hercules” turned things around in 2009, though, going on an unlikely six-fight win streak, which included victories over Daiki Hata, Takeshi Inoue, and Caol Uno. His assault on the featherweight division landed him in a 2011 fight for Hiroyuki Takaya’s Dream title, a bout which he lost by split-decision.

Miyata, as you might predict, emerged victorious against Umbetov, who submitted to an arm-triangle choke early in Round 2. Miyata has won three in a row.

Lastly, long-time journeyman Daiju Takase (12-14-2, 5-4 PRIDE, 0-3 UFC) moved up to face heavyweight Carlos Toyota (4-6-1) in an open-weight bout. Takase was, of course, the first man to ever submit Anderson Silva, locking up a triangle choke at PRIDE 26 for a massive upset. He also has a win over Carlos Newton to his name, and though his overall record is thoroughly underwhelming, Takase was actually heading into Sunday’s fight on the strength of a five-fight unbeaten streak. Toyota (who was, conversely, in a three-fight slump) would nevertheless make short work of his under-sized opponent, knocking Takase out in a minute and a half.

No footage from that fight, but here’s some pretty rad backstage footage from Takase vs. Silva, including Anderson losing it in a very soft, gentle-voiced kind of way.

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