Beyond the Octagon: Bellator’s Khasbulaev returns, plus video of Pedro Rizzo’s final fight

Last weekend yielded up its usual crop of UFC, TUF, Bellator, and PRIDE alumni looking to reassert themselves in the smaller rings and cages…

By: Rainer Lee | 8 years ago
Beyond the Octagon: Bellator’s Khasbulaev returns, plus video of Pedro Rizzo’s final fight
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Last weekend yielded up its usual crop of UFC, TUF, Bellator, and PRIDE alumni looking to reassert themselves in the smaller rings and cages of the world, but the big news is the retirement fight of two-time UFC heavyweight title challenger and leg-kick monster Pedro Rizzo.

For his final turn in the ring, Rizzo faced Andrew Flores Smith (14-9-0) in the main event of Brazil’s Face to Face 12. Smith started out strong enough, backing Rizzo up with flurries of hooks before taking the famed kickboxer to the ground, where he looked to rough him up with elbows. He seemed to rather quickly lose his appetite for ground-and-pound, though, and he settled for covering up in top control until referee Mario Yamasaki stood them up. On the feet, Rizzo and Smith threw their weight behind hooks and uppercuts but were unable to find their mark. Then, in the rounds waning minute, with his opponent badly faded, Rizzo began shelling Smith with leg kicks. He landed some half-dozen in total, leaving Smith unable to answer the bell for Round 2. With this final TKO victory, Rizzo’s overall record stands at 20-11-0 (9-5 UFC, 0-2 PRIDE).

Rizzo vs. Smith (sans sound, avec irritating watermarks) can be seen here.

Also this weekend, as part of Victory Fighting Championships latest offering, former TUF hopeful Dakota Cochrane (20-9, 0-2 Bellator) jumped up to middleweight to score a tidy TKO of Sean Huffman (19-33-0) in the first round of their co-main event bout. Cochrane has strung two wins together for the first time in seven bouts.

And in the night’s main event, Joe Wilk (19-11, 0-2 Bellator, 0-1 Strikeforce) pulled himself out of a two-fight skid with a first-round triangle choke of the well-traveled Sean Wilson (35-27, 0-1 Bellator).

Further down the card, UFC vet Brian Houston dropped a split-decision to journeyman Matt Jones (8-10, 0-3 Bellator). Houston, who entered the UFC with a budding, undefeated record, has found himself in an ever-deepening spiral since his tour through the Octagon: he’s lost five in a row, leaving him at 4-5-0 overall.

And in China on Saturday, TUF: China runner-up Wang Sai (11-5-1, 1-1 UFC) continued to make the most of his free agency, knocking out Jason Constantino with an elbow in Round 1 of the latter’s MMA debut. Wang is 4-0 since leaving the UFC last year, though the majority of his opponents have been fighters just embarking on professional careers.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Sengoku tournament finalist Michihiro Omigawa (16-14-1, 1-6 UFC, 4-1 Sengoku, 2-1 Dream) took a unanimous decision victory over former Shooto champion Yoshifumi Nakamura (18-7-0) in the main event of Grandslam 3. This latest turn puts Omigawa on a three-fight win streak, his longest since 2010, and serves as his most significant victory in the last five years.

And in St. Petersburg, Russia, at Absolute Championship Berkut 22, Magomedrasul Khasbulaev, better known as Frodo Khasbulaev (21-5, 5-0 Bellator), returned from two-plus years away from competition for a bout with Antonio Magno Pereira (17-4-0).

Khasbulaev earned himself a shot at then-champion Pat Curran’s featherweight title with his 2013 tournament run, but a curiously revoked visa prevented him from ever returning to Bellator, leaving him in career limbo. Contractually, he was prohibited from fighting for other organizations, but visa issues also left him unable to fight for the promotion that he was obligated to. Under Bellator’s new management, however, Khasbulaev was released, facilitating his return last week. And the would-be title challenger certainly made the most of it: Pereira took Khasbulaev down but promptly found himself having to turtle up in guard while Khasbulaev through steady strikes from the bottom. The Dagestani then threatened with an omoplata and, as Pereira rolled to escape, smoothly transitioned to back mount, where he tied up the fight-ending rear-naked choke. It took all of 100 seconds.

Check out Khasbulaev vs. Pereira here. It’s a stylish performance from Khasbulaev, who remains one of MMA’s most underused talents.

Another Bellator veteran in Rafael Silva also enjoyed a productive weekend, defeating Derinaldo Guerra (18-3-0) via arm triangle in Round 1 of their main-event bout at Aspera FC 24. The submission lands Silva back in the win column after the May loss to Darrion Caldwell that pushed him out of Bellator. It also leaves him with the previously vacant Aspera bantamweight title. Silva’s overall record stands at 23-5-0.

Stateside, TUF 14’s Louis Gaudinot (7-4-1NC, 1-3-1NC UFC) took his first fight since being released from the UFC in January as he faced Claudio Ledesma (11-7, 3-1 Bellator) in the main event of CFFC 51. Gaudinot, who was awarded fight of the season for his TUF 14 exhibition match with Dustin Pague, came away from Saturday’s bout with a unanimous decision win. It’s his first victory since a 2012 upset over John Lineker.

And finally, Vale Tudo Japan hosted a trio of notable names for their seventh event, beginning with former WEC and Dream fighter Yoshiro Maeda, who bested the promising Takaki Soya (7-2-0) by unanimous decision. Brawler Maeda’s kill-or-be-killed approach to fighting has yielded both impressive and disappointing results throughout his thirteen-year career, including victories over Masanori Kanehara, Chase Beebe, and Micah Miller, as well as losses to club fighters Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett and Joe Pearson. With this latest victory, however, Maeda puts himself on a three-fight win streak, his longest such undefeated streak in an astounding eight years. His overall record improves to 33-15-5.

Also on the card, Tatsuya Ando–recently seen on Road to UFC: Japan, where he dropped a majority decision to eventual finalist Teruto Ishihara–received the first official loss of his career, losing a split-decision to Shoko Sato (24-14-2).

Lastly, former DEEP champion Daisuke Nakamura (28-18-1, 0-1 Strikeforce, 2-1 Dream, 2-1 PRIDE) was halted in the third via ground-and-pound courtesy of Yuki Kawana (10-0-5). This latest defeat plunges Nakamura into a three-fight slump. It’s only the second time in his lengthy career that he’s gone winless for so long. Incidentally, this weekend also marks only the second time he’s been TKO’d.

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