When fighters are given their release from a major North American MMA promotion like the UFC, Bellator, WSOF or Titan – 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 new feature for MMAOddsBreaker, I take a look at some regional/overseas matchups for the month of February and rather than listing off the top matchups outside the major promotions, I point out some familiar names that you might recognize on upcoming events. February 1st – Pancrase 264 (Tokyo, Japan) Nam Phan (20-14-0) vs. Takumi Nakayama (19-14-6) Since his UFC release last June, Phan went 2-0 before his devastating knockout loss Mike Richman at Bellator 131 last November. The TUF 12 veteran competes in Japan for the first time since 2008 as he takes on Nakayama who’s won six of his last nine fights. Will Chope (21-7-0) vs. Satoshi Inaba (14-8-3) Chope only competed in the UFC once, but is perhaps most famously known for his UFC release which was 24 hours before his bout with Diego Brandao at UFC Fight Night 38. The 24-year old was cut from the Las Vegas-based promotion due to past domestic violence charges that were only revealed prior to that featherweight matchup. The charges violated the UFC code of conduct and Chope has since fought outside the UFC going 2-1. He faces the hometown favorite in Inaba who has won six of his last seven bouts. February 6th – Fight Time Promotions: Mayhem In Miami (Miami, Florida) Alexis Vila (14-5-0) vs. Felipe Efrain (7-1-0) Vila is perhaps most well-known for his stunning first round knockout over current Bellator bantamweight champion Joe Warren at Bellator 51. Coming off a loss in his last fight, the 43-year old Cuban fighter looks to prove his relevancy in the flyweight division. Erfran is a hot prospect out of Brazil and at 21 years old, hopes a win over his elder foe will land him a spot in one of the major promotions. Corey Hill (6-8-0) vs. Jose Cacares (8-5-0) Hill hasn’t been the same fighter since he broke his leg against Dale Hartt at the inaugural “UFC Fight for the Troops” event in 2008. Along with the gruesome injury, the 36-year old also suffered some serious trauma from that incident and has lost six of his last ten bouts since that fight. Aiming for his first win since 2012, the TUF 5 veteran takes on the 27-year old “Fresh Prince of Kendall” who has won two straight. February 6th – SteelFist Fight Night 31 (Salt Lake City, Utah) DaMarques Johnson (15-14-0) vs. Joe Rodriguez (6-2-0) TUF 9 finalst Johnson faces off with the 37-year old Rodriguez who has won four straight fights. “Darkness” has lost five-straight bouts and was most recently knocked out by UFC welterweight Matt Dwyer last May at Battlefield Fight League 30. Searching for his first win since 2011, Johnson hopes to put on a better showing against his opponent who has yet to earn a win over an established veteran. February 7th – New England fight Night 16 (Lewiston, Maine) Nah-Shon Burrell (10-5-0) vs. Ryan Hodge (6-8-0) UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Burrell looks to snap a two-fight win streak when he takes on fellow middleweight Hodge. Burrell was released from Bellator after losing two straight fights to Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Page. No doubt the 24-year old is aiming for an impressive finish over an opponent who has an under .500 record. February 7th – Cage Fury Fighting Championships 45 (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) Lyman Good (16-3-0) vs. Elijah Harshbarger (7-4-0) Former Bellator welterweight champion Good looks to extend his winning streak to three in a row, when he takes on Ring of Combat veteran Harshbarger. The 29-year old Good had a failed stint on TUF 19 last year where he lost his fight to get in the house. With just three blemishes on his resume – all to Bellator tournament winners – Good hopes a win over his 32-year old foe will land him a spot in one of the bigger promotions. February 13th – Legacy Fighting Championships 38 (Allen, Texas) Anthony Njokuani (16-9-0) vs. Thomas Gifford (8-6-0) UFC and WEC veteran Njokuani looks to snap his two-fight losing streak as he headlines LFC 38 against Gifford who’s only won once in his last four fights. The 34-year old who is also a Texas native, hopes he can earn an impressive victory over the 22-year old in front of his home state. February 14th – ONE FC 26: Odyssey Of Champions (Jakarta, Indonesia) Jens Pulver (27-19-1) vs. Fransino Tirta (16-0-1) Former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver fights for the first time since November of 2013 as he takes on hometown favorite Tirta. At 40 years old, fans and pundits have called for retirement from the TUF 5 coach, but Pulver continues to keep his competitive spirits alive as he takes on his younger adversary. Tirta has never lost a fight through 16 outings and no doubt hopes a win over a veteran like Pulver will make a name for himself. February 21st – M1 Challenge 55: In Memory of Guram Gugenishivili (Tbilishi, Georgia) Luigi Fioravanti (25-12-0) vs. Nodar Kuduxashvili (7-1-0) While he hasn’t competed in the UFC since 2009, Fiorvanti deserves some credit for the guys he fought including Paul Daley, Anthony Johnson, Diego Sanchez and Jon Fitch. Winning three of his last four fights, the 34-year old takes on crowd favorite Kuduxashvili only lost once through eight career fights. The lone blemish on Kuduxashvili’s resume was a 2012 loss to Ultimate Fighter finalist Uriah Hall. February 21st – Union MMA Pro (Krasnodar, Russia) Alexander Volkov (23-4-0) vs. Alexei Kudin (19-7-0) Former Bellator heavyweight champion Volkov fights in his native Russia for the second straight fight as he battles fellow countryman Kudin. “Drago” has won four straight fights since losing his championship and faces Red Fury product Kudin who has won five of his last six fights. February 22nd– Tachi Palace Fights 22 (Lemoore, California) David Mitchell (17-4-0) vs. Angel DeAnda (12-4-0) Since his UFC release at the end of 2013, the 35-year old Mitchell has been on a tear winning five straight fights. His opponent DeAnda meanwhile has gone 2-2 in his last four fights and hopes to steal the thunder from “Bulletproof.” February 28th – West Coast Fighting Championship 13 (Sacramento, California) Jack May (7-2-0) vs. Dave Huckaba (22-7-0) Two-time UFC veteran May looks to snap the first two-fight losing streak of his career when he battles WSOF veteran Huckaba. May went undefeated for the first seven fights of his career before losing two-straight in the UFC to Derrick Lewis and Shawn Jordan. With the UFC’s heavyweight division a bit shallow at the moment, an impressive win for either fighter could land them a spot in the UFC. February 28th – Made 4 The Cage 16 (Sunderland, England) Philip De Fries (11-4-0) vs. Thomas Denham (5-6-0) UFC veteran De Fries looks for his first two-fight win streak since 2011 as he battles fellow English fighter Denham. Since his UFC release last April, De Freies has gone 2-1, with his only blemish to the hands of former Judo standout Satoshi Ishii. Denham meanwhile has lost three of his last four fights. February 28th – Octagon Fighting Sensation 3 (Yaroslavl, Russia) Jeff Monson (52-20-1) vs. Alexander Stolyarov (7-2-0) Former UFC heavyweight title challenger Monson looks to extend his winning streak to three straight has he takes on his Russian foe Stolyarov. The 44-year-old Monson has gone 3-1 since a rough stretch between 2013-2014 where he lost six straight fights. Stolyarov meanwhile has won three straight fights.
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