When 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.com, I take a look at some regional/overseas MMA matchups for the month of May, and rather than listing off the top fights outside these major organizations, I highlight some familiar names that you might recognize on upcoming fight cards.
LFA 11: Frincu vs. Madrid – May 5th (Phoenix, Arizona)
LaRue Burley (7-2) vs. James Nakashima (6-0)
Bellator/WSOF vet Burley looks for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 when he takes on MMA Lab standout Nakashima. Burley only fought once in 2016, earning a third-round TKO victory over Cedric Marks at Fist of Fury 11. Nakashima has remained undefeated in his career, with his most recent victory coming at RFA 46, where he earned a unanimous decision over Dez Hill.
Ganryujima: Way of the Samurai 2017 in Maihama – May 6th (Uraysau, Japan)
Michihiro Omigawa (17-4) vs. Jairo Kusunoki (0-2) *Custom Rules bout*
Former UFC featherweight Omigawa competes in his third straight “Custom Rules” bout, as he battles heavyweight fighter Kusnoki. The 41-year-old hasn’t competed in a regular MMA match since a 2015 split-decision victory over Teddy Violet at WSOF Global 2. Kusunoki competes for the first time since 2015.
Cage Warriors 83 – May 6th (Newport, Wales)
Che Mills (16-9) vs. Lewis Long (14-4)
UFC veteran Mills looks for his first win since 2014 when he battles 28-year-old Long. Mills has gone 1-3 with a No-Contest in his last five fights and has only fought once since 2015. Long has won seven of his last eight fights and hasn’t gone the distance in a fight since 2013.
Shooto – May 12th (Tokyo, Japan)
Reuben Duran (11-6-1) vs. Taiki Tsuchiya (14-7)
Four-time UFC veteran Duran looks to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since 2013 when he takes on Roots MMA product Tsuchiya. Duran went 1-3 during his UFC tenure from 2011 to 2013, defeating Francisco Rivera Jr. and losing to Takeya Mizugaki, Hugo Viana and George Roop. The 33-year-old will also be looking for his first win since 2015. Tsuchiya has won four of his last five fights after losing three in a row.
BAMMA 29: McDermott Vs. Wolf – May 12th (Birmingham, England)
Ronnie Mann (25-9-1) vs. Daniel Crawford (8-1)
Bellator veteran Mann looks to bounce back against ACB vet Crawford. Mann is currently 2-2 in his last four fights and hasn’t lost back-to-back fights since 2013. Crawford’s last loss came in 2015, and he is riding a two-fight win streak.
Stellar Fights 34 – May 13th (Harrington, Delaware)
Richard Patishnock (6-4) vs. Piankhi Zimmerman (3-2)
Former WSOF title challenger Patishnock aims to snap a three-fight skid when he battles 31-year-old Zimmerman. Patishnock went 1-2 in WSOF defeating Gregor Gracie and losing matchups to Justin Gaethje and Luis Palomino. Zimmerman has won three of his last four fights and competes for the second time this year.
ACB 60: Aguev vs Devent – May 13th (Vienna, Austria)
Benny Alloway (19-7) vs. Ismail Naurdiev (14-1)
Three-time UFC veteran Alloway looks to make it three straight wins when he battles Naurdiev. Alloway has gone 6-2 since his UFC release in 2013, including four wins by stoppage. Naurdiev is just 20 years old and heads into this matchup on a 10-fight win streak.
Octogone: 1st Edition – May 13th (Marselle, France)
Mickael Lebout (15-7-2) vs. Rashad Muradov (4-2)
Lebout looks for his second straight win when he takes on Russian fighter Muradov. The 29-year-old snapped a three-fight skid in his last fight, earning a unanimous-decision win over Mehdi Dakaev at Gladiator Fighting Arena 5 back in December. Muradov meanwhile has won back-to-back fights.
M-1 Challenge 77: Nemkov vs Marques – May 19th (Sochi, Russia)
Ronny Markes (16-4) vs. Viktor Nemkov (24-6)
UFC/WSOF veteran Markes looks for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2013 when he takes on Russian Nemkov. The 28-year-old has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, including a first-round submission victory over Tony Lopez at KOTC: Heavy Trauma back in February. Nemkov has won five of his last six fights, including a split-decision victory against former Bellator champion Attila Vegh in his last fight at M-1 Challenge 71.
Titan FC 44: Torres vs. Sharipov – May 19th (Pembroke Pines, Florida)
Kurt Holobaugh (16-4) vs. Gesais “JZ” Cavalcante (21-9-1)
A pair of Strikeforce veterans clash for the interim Titan FC lightweight title, as Holobaugh battles Cavalcante. Since his UFC release in 2013, Holobaugh has gone 7-2 with five of those wins coming by way of stoppage. Cavalcante lost his Titan FC lightweight title to Freddy Assuncao last year and recently rebounded with a win over Robert Turnquest at Titan FC 42 back in December.
ACB 61: Balaev vs. Bataev – May 20th (St. Petersberg, Russia)
Albert Tumenov (18-4) vs. Marcelo Alfaya (18-7)
Tumenov competes for the first time since leaving the UFC last year as he battles 37-year-old Brazilian fighter Alfaya. Tumenov went 5-3 in the UFC earning notable victories over Lorenz Larkin and Alan Jouban. The 25-year-old heads into this matchup on a two-fight skid. Alfaya is coming off back-to-back wins and was eliminated from TUF 21 after losing by majority decision to Jason Jackson.
Elvis Mutapcic (15-5-1) vs. Beslan Isaev (35-9)
Three-time UFC veteran Mutapcic looks for his first win since 2015 as he takes on 39-fight veteran Isaev. Mutapcic went 0-2-1 in the UFC, going to a draw with Kevin Casey and losing bouts to Francimar Barroso and Anthony Smith. The 30-year-old moves down to welterweight for the first time in his career. Isaev is 1-2 in his last three fights and will look to avoid two straight losses for the second time in his career.
PLMMA 73 – May 20th (Poland)
Matt Horwich (30-25-1) vs. Dawld Drobina (8-4)
UFC/Bellator and IFL veteran Horwich looks for his first two-fight win streak since 2012 when he takes on Polish native Drobina. Horwich is coming off his first win since 2012 as he defeated David Ramirez at PLMMA 72 this past March. With that victory, the 39-year-old snapped a four-fight skid. Drobina heads into this matchup off back-to-back submission victories.
World Fighting Championship Akhmat 36: Battle in Grozny – May 21st (Gronzy, Russia)
Frodo Khasbulaev (25-7) vs. Genair da Silva (15-5)
Former Bellator lightweight tournament champion Khasbulaev looks for his fourth win in his last five fights when he takes on Brazilian da Silva. Khasbulaev has gone 4-2 since leaving Bellator in 2013. Da Silva, meanwhile, has won five of his last six fights.
Alexandre Bezerra (19-5) vs. Salman Zhamaldaev (13-1)
Bezerra looks to avoid two straight losses for the first time in his career when he takes on Zhamaldaev, who is riding a 13-fight win streak. “Popo” last saw action in a unanimous-decision setback against Andre Harrison at Titan FC 42 back in September. Zhamaldev competes for the first time this year and hasn’t lost a fight since 2012.
Ildemar Alcântara (21-10) vs. Beslan Ushukov (14-2)
Alcantara aims to snap a three-fight skid when he takes on Russian fighter Ushukov. Alcantara has gone 1-4 in his last five fights, including an 0-2 run since his UFC release in 2015. Ushukov heads into this matchup on a four-fight win streak.
Wagner Prado (12-2) vs. Magomed Ankalaev (8-0)
UFC veteran Prado looks to make it five in a row against Ankalaev. The 29-year old has remained undefeated since leaving the UFC in 2013, racking up four straight wins by knockout. Ankalaev has yet to lose in his eight-fight career, winning five of them by unanimous decision.
Virgil Zwicker (15-5-1) vs. Zelimkhan Umiev (9-1)
Zwicker competes outside of the Bellator cage for the first time since 2013 as he battles Akhmat Fight Club product Umieiv. The 34-year-old heads into this matchup having won three of his last four fights. Umiev has won four straight fights by stoppage and competes for the first time this year.
ONE Championship: Dynasty of Heroes – May 26th ( Kallang, Singapore)
Ben Askren (15-0) vs. Agilan Thangalapani (6-0)
Askren competes for the first time in over a year when he takes on fellow undefeated fighter Thangalapani. The ONE welterweight champion has yet to taste defeat in his 15-fight career and is coming off a unanimous-decision win over Nikolay Aleksakhin at ONE Championship: Global Rivals. Thangalapani made his pro debut in March 2015 and has won all of his fights by stoppage, including a second-round submission victory against Jeff Huang at ONE Championship: Throne of Tigers back in February.
M4TC 24: Throwdown – May 27th (Tyne and Wear, England)
Colin Fletcher (13-8) vs. Jordan Miller (15-19)
TUF Smashes Finalist Fletcher looks to get back on the winning track when he meets Jordan Miller in a 163-pound catchweight affair. The 34-year-old has lost three of his last four fights. Miller heads into this contest on a four-fight losing streak.
KSW 39: Colosseum – May 27th (Warsaw, Poland)
Norman Parke (23-5-1) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (12-0)
UFC veteran Parke looks for his third straight win when he battles Gamrot for the lightweight title. The 29-year-old has gone 2-0 since leaving the UFC last year, earning wins over Andrew Fischer and fellow UFC vet Paul Redmond. Gamrot has won seven of his 12 career fights by stoppage.
Pancrase 287 – May 28th (Tokyo, Japan)
Rafael Silva (28-5) vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari (21-6-4)
Former Bellator bantamweight title challenger Silva aims for his seventh win in a row when he takes on 32-year-old Ishiwatari. Silva went 3-2 during his Bellator tenure from 2013-2015, with his losses coming to Joe Warren and Darrion Caldwell. Ishiwatari heads into this matchup on a three-fight win streak, including a unanimous-decision win over UFC vet Jonathan Brookins in his last fight at Pancrase 279.
Hatsu Hioki (29-9-2) vs. Hiroshige Tanaka (11-4)
Former UFC featherweight Hioki looks to make it three victories in a row against Tanaka. Hioki has earned two straight wins over Kyosuke Yokoyama and Yojiro Uchimura since his UFC release in 2015. Tanaka snapped a three-fight skid after earning a unanimous-decision victory against Yojiro Uchimura at Pancrase 283 in his last fight.
Is there a notable MMA veteran competing this month that I missed? Or is there a matchup that has been changed? Hit me up on Twitter @LynchOnSports, and I’ll add it in or fix it up. Thanks.