Our coverage of last week’s regional action continues, with veterans from the UFC and PRIDE turning in mixed results.
At Pancrase 270 out of Tokyo, the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter was well-represented, with alumni Nam Phan and Andy Main squaring off for the organization’s featherweight title.
Phan (21-15, 2-6 UFC, 0-2 Bellator, 1-1 Sengoku, 0-2 Strikeforce) advanced to the seminfinals of TUF 12, where he lost a split-decision to Michael Johnson before making his formal UFC debut. In the early going, his time in the Octagon would be characterized by dubious scorecards just as much as by his potent boxing game, as he turned in performances against Leonard Garcia and Mike Thomas Brown that won over fans if not judges. Phan would appear increasingly physically depleted in the latter half of his UFC run, and decision losses to Dennis Siver, Takeya Mizugaki, and Vaughan Lee would force his release. He’d gone 3-1 since, falling to Mike Richman in Bellator but staying undefeated in Japan, which led to his capture of Pancrase’s vacant featherweight title earlier this year.
Andy Main (11-2-1) didn’t enjoy as much success on TUF, submitting to Kyle Watson in the round-of-sixteen. He’s quietly put in work for smaller east coast promotions since, and began an unexpected run in Pancrase in 2013, where four straight victories, including a TKO of former champion Akitoshi Tamura, earned him a shot at Phan’s title.
Main imposed a stifling grappling game in Round 1, holding fast to the body lock and punishing Phan with punches and slams to the mat. Phan was quick to get back to his feet each time, but was never able to distance himself enough to deliver any of his trademark body blows.
Perhaps emboldened by a strong first round, Main spent the first minutes of Round 2 boxing with Phan, but body shots and a couple of glancing headkicks from the champion soon persuaded Main to take the fight to the ground. This time around, though, Phan was able to work back to his feet and out of the clinch, and the ensuing, steady barrage of low kicks should’ve sealed the round for him
Main was quick to return to a grappling-centric program in the third, shooting in from outside to take Phan down and pass to back mount. With the body triangle locked in, Main alternately leveled short punches to the exhausted Phan and threatened with choke, hammerlock, and twister. And while Phan survived Round 3, Main would go on to find the submission in the fourth: Phan looked to change things up with a takedown of his own but quickly found himself in a triangle choke, and after a period of adjustment, Main forced the tap-out.
It’s a nice win for Main, who improves to 8-1 since his time on TUF. As for Phan, he falls to 3-2 post-UFC and suffers the first submission loss of his career.
In the night’s co-main event, welterweight champion and would-be prospect Gota Yamashita (10-4-0) submitted to a rear-naked choke from Shingo Suzuki (13-8-3). The bout was a rematch of a non-title affair in May, which Suzuki also won, but by TKO. Newly minted champion Suzuki is 4-1 in the last two years and has won three straight: in addition to his finishes of Yamashita, he also knocked out PRIDE veteran Yuki Kondo.
Also on the card, bantamweight prospect Victor Henry (11-1-0) extended his win streak to five with a first-round guillotine of Hidekazu Fukushima (10-3-1). Henry also has a TKO of Hideo Tokoro and a submission of Masakatsu Ueda to his credit.
And earlier that evening, former TUF hopeful Colleen Schneider (9-6, 0-1 Strikeforce) claimed a split-decision victory in her fight with Bryanna Fissori (2-1-0). Schneider is 5-2 since her failed TUF bid
And in Okinawa, at Vale Tudo Japan, PRIDE vet and Super Hulk tournament winner Ikuhisa Minowa unexpectedly found himself on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against Justin “That Guy” Morton (official nickname). With this career-best victory, Morton improves to 8-2-0 overall. Minowa falls to 62-39-8; he’s gone 3-4 in the last two years, making for arguably the worst stretch of his career since his debut, when he put together a 1-8-1 mark in his first two years of competition.
Also on the card, Shinichi “BJ” Kojima (14-6-5) took a split-decision over Tatsuya So (13-14-4). Kojima was long considered one of the sport’s best flyweights, twice beating Mamoru Yamaguchi and fighting UFC vet Yasuhiro Urushitani to a draw (also twice). Kojima finds himself back in the win column following a loss to Andrew Leone in One Championship last year.
Meanwhile, in the good ol’ U.S. of A., at KOTC: Elimination, D.J. Linderman (19-9, 0-1 WSOF, 1-1 Bellator) won his third in a row with a unanimous decision over Carl Seumanutafa (9-6, 0-1 Strikeforce, 0-1 EliteXC). Linderman is scheduled to face UFC vet Joshua Copeland for the latter’s heavyweight title next month.
And at Strike Off 6 in Virginia, TUF 11 finalist Kris McCray (9-5, 0-3 UFC) returned from over two years away from competition to submit Billy Ward (5-6-0) with a guillotine choke in the opening minute of their headlining bout. McCray is 4-2 since being released from the UFC in 2011.
UFC veterans Chris Saunders and John Maguire also enjoyed success last week. TUF 15 quarterfinalist Saunders (14-7, 0-1 UFC, 0-1 Bellator) submitted Kevin Bostick (6-4-0) with a guillotine to capture the BAMMA Badbeat lightweight title and his third win in a row. Maguire (20-8, 2-3 UFC) pulled himself out of a two-fight slump with a first-round kimura of the overmatched Alexandre Roumette (3-6-0), thus improving to 2-2 in his post-UFC career.
And at Kunlun Fight: Cage Fight Series 4, TUF: China winner Zhang Lipeng (10-9-1, 2-2 UFC) made a successful return to the regional scene, notching a win against Makoto Maeda (6-6-4). Also on the card, heavyweight juggernaut Evgeny Erokhin improved to 12-4-0 with a victory against Vladimir Mishchenko (7-9-0). Erokhin has won seven straight, including knockouts of UFC veterans Tim Hague, Jeff Monson, and Mike Kyle.
Finally, at Akhmat Fight Show 9, heavyweight prospect Maxim Grishin knocked out Joaquim Ferreira in Round 3, making for his ninth win in a row and improving his record to 21-6-0. Ferreira, who served as a late replacement for former Bellator champ Attila Vegh, falls to 19-11-0.
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