One of the most well-known stories of resurrection is that of the Phoenix. The mythological bird ignites in a ball of flames at the end of its lifespan, only to rise from the ashes, reborn to fly once again.

This sacred creature appears as the logo of Resurrection Fighting Alliance, a Midwestern promotion whose goal makes it all the more appropriate that it would choose the firebird as the core of its imagery. The promotion’s founders state that a large part of their mission is to resurrect the careers of fighters that everyone else has given up on. It’s a noble cause, and one that the young promotion will continue this Saturday from the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Neb.

The promotion has picked a number of athletes who have not fared well recently, but none stands out more clearly than the evening’s headliner, Joe Stevenson.

There was a time when Stevenson set foot inside the Octagon opposite the legendary B.J.Penn with the lightweight title on the line. That was four years ago, and Penn sent Joe “Daddy” home with a defeat. Stevenson has found it hard to right the ship ever since, winning just three out of his next nine and falling upon a four-fight skid most recently, even after making the move to featherweight. The TUF alum is the definition of a fighter now counted out by his peers, fans and the media.

Can he turn into the fighter’s equivalent of the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of his past defeats to reclaim glory and ascend to the big show once again?

Dakota Cochrane sure hopes that isn’t the case. The TUF Live qualifier, who failed to make it into the house, has a different sort of resurrection in mind. Despite an 11-3 record, the 26-year-old, who will enjoy the home turf advantage against Stevenson, is probably best known for his foray into pornographic film. There’s no doubt that Cochrane would like to instead turn everyone’s focus to what he does inside the cage. A win over someone as well-known as Stevenson would be the first step in such a mission.

The 14-fight lineup, which includes four amateur contests, also features other veterans looking to revive their careers as well as up-and-comers looking for their first shot at the big time. A veteran of the early UFC events, Maurice Smith is set to battle Ryan Lopez; UFCer Anthony Njokuani’s brother, Chidi, faces Bobby Cooper; WEC veteran James Krause goes up against Amir Khillah; journeyman Sean Wilson meets Nick Macias; undefeated prospect Jordan Rinaldi locks horns with another up-and-comer in Mark Dickman; and NCAA wrestling champion Bubba Jenkins squares off with Jesus Adame. All of the action will be available live via Fight Now TV internet stream beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s a look at the top seven fights on the bill.

FW: Nick Macias (5-2) vs. Sean Wilson (32-17)

Macias (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Colorado native Nick Macias was gearing up for a showdown with Team Alpha Male wrestler Lance Palmer, but as with many of Macias’ potential opponents, Palmer withdrew from the bout. Now, Macias goes from fighting a relative newcomer with strong wrestling to battling a veteran on short notice.

Macias is a well-rounded fighter who believes he’ll have a grappling advantage over Wilson. I think this definitely holds true when Macias is attacking with submissions and Wilson is defending them, as the vet has lost via submission 16 times. The one thing we do know is that this fight should end in a finish—Wilson either stops opponents or crumbles.

Macias has struggled at times to avoid the judges’ scorecards, and that could be a problem against someone with Wilson’s experience. Experience usually gets the nod, but I like Macias’ chances here. Although Wilson has a fair amount of wins by some form of knockout, Macias has a great chin and has only tasted defeat via decision. Macias takes this via either submission or lopsided decision.

150-pound Catchweight: Jordan Rinaldi (5-0) vs. Mark Dickman (5-0)

Rinaldi (Sherdog)

It seems you don’t have to look far these days to find a fighter who lost during the round of 32 on a season of The Ultimate Fighter. And here’s another such fighter: Jordan Rinaldi. Outside of his submission loss to Joey Proctor in the very first fight of the TUF Live season, Rinaldi sports a spotless record. The 24-year-old does his best work on the mat, with four submissions to his credit, including a first-round defeat of TUF 14 featherweight runner-up Dennis Bermudez.

Dickman also has a pristine five-fight mark. His most significant win came against veteran Ted Worthington. Whereas Rinaldi is the submission specialist, Dickman prefers to do his work on the feet, where he’s earned three wins by some form of knockout.

Dickman struggled to eke out a split decision over William Joplin, a submission specialist who sits at 4-8 in his career. Rinaldi’s loss to Proctor came via submission, and he also recorded a split verdict against a 4-8 fighter, but that fighter’s arsenal also leaned towards grappling.

Rinaldi’s background includes wrestling, so look for him to put Dickman on his back and seek to hand the striker a loss via submission.

165-pound Catchweight: James Krause (15-4) vs. Amir Khillah (10-4)

James Krause (top) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

James Krause is another fighter who failed in his attempt to advance into The Ultimate Fighter house in the show’s 15th season. Meanwhile, Khillah became the first victim UFC fans witnessed succumb to Cody McKenzie’s famed guillotine choke on season 12 of the series.

Krause has tasted the spotlight in the WEC and Bellator, though he hasn’t been able to put it all together at those higher levels of competition. However, in addition to his 15-4 pro record, Krause sports an 18-1 amateur mark. That should give him a significant experience advantage going into this fight.

When Krause is in the zone, he can be a quick finisher. Khillah’s performance against McKenzie makes me question his ability to avoid getting in early trouble. This one goes to Krause via first-round submission.

LW: Bubba Jenkins (2-0) vs. Jesus Adame (3-1)

Jenkins (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

The 2011 NCAA Division I champion at 157 pounds, Bubba Jenkins has transitioned to MMA and met with success so far. The American Top Team fighter is being brought along slowly, but he’s picking up his wins in quick fashion—the 24-year-old has spent a combined four minutes and 11 seconds in the cage thus far.

Some fighter databases credit his foe, Jesus Adame, with zero professional fights, but it looks as though the Kansas native has actually competed four times, losing his second fight by submission and winning two times via first-round submissions.

Adame’s submissions make him a threat against Jenkins, but this is a high-caliber wrestler we’re talking about. Jenkins trains with a great camp and he should be prepared for anything Adame throws his way. Jenkins should continue to overwhelm opponents, taking a ground-and-pound TKO or a submission due to strikes in this one.

WW: Chidi Njokuani (7-3) vs. Bobby Cooper (5-2)

Njokuani (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Like his UFC veteran brother, Chidi Njokuani likes to strike with opponents. Here, he’s facing a guy who grinds fights out, hoping for the decision win.

Cooper’s two losses have come against prospects with good records, and Njokuani’s three defeats have come against a similar level of competition. This is one fight where the duration will likely determine Cooper’s chances for a victory.

Njokuani has only seen the second and third rounds once in his career—a fight he won by way of a TKO. The win proves that Njokuani can’t be counted out when the fight goes into deep waters, but it also brings his endurance into question. If this fight extends beyond the first frame, Njokuani’s odds of winning decrease slightly. However, we’ll probably never see the ring girl hoist a card with the number two on it in this fight, as Njokuani should end things early via knockout.

LHW: Maurice Smith (13-13) vs. Ryan Lopez (13-12)

Smith (R) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Maurice Smith’s career hit its high point at UFC 14, when the striker defeated UFC legend Mark Coleman. He’s been in the cage with a who’s who of fighters, including Randy Couture and Marco Ruas, in the time since, but he has only competed once in the last four years.

Ryan Lopez has made just once less appearance as a pro, but he debuted 13 years after Smith. Lopez does tend to live or die by the submission. He’s been more active than Smith over the last several years and won four out of his last six outings.

This could turn out to be an ugly fight. The bottom line here is that Smith is a 50-year-old fighter. That’s a rare species, but the ones who succeed at that age tend to stay active. Smith has not. Still, it’s hard to give Lopez the nod here. Smith has won three of his last four, including wins over two past-their-prime big names. Lopez has never been a big name and has never won more than three fights in a row. This could easily go either way, but I’ll say Smith’s striking is enough to do the job.

LW: Joe Stevenson (31-14) vs. Dakota Cochrane (11-3)

Cochrane (L) works for takedown (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

In the Fight of the Week feature on Monday, The MMA Corner’s own Rob Tatum gave a decided edge to Joe Stevenson. However, the x-factor in that analysis focused on where Stevenson’s head is at. If he’s got it in the game, he could return to his old form. If he doesn’t, well, we know how that goes—the results of six of his outings since the loss to B.J. Penn make it quite clear.

Stevenson is returning to lightweight for this match-up. The 30-year-old has lost a lot lately, but instead of focusing on the losses alone, we should remember who he has faced in those affairs. We’re talking about a group of fighters, including some contenders and a champion, that have all managed to remain employed by Zuffa for multiple fights. You have to delve deeper into his resume—all the way back to 2002—to find an obscure name that handed Joe “Daddy” a defeat. Stevenson has a dangerous ground game, but it’s his 45 fights of experience and the other aspects of his skill set that make him an even tougher task for Dakota Cochrane.

Cochrane made his name with wins over UFC veterans Jamie Varner and Marcus LeVesseur. That shows that he’s no joke. But LeVesseur is a wrestler who proved in his UFC debut against Cody McKenzie that his submission defense leaves a lot to be desired. And Varner was on a slide at the time of his loss to Cochrane. The former TUF hopeful not only lost the qualifying-round fight on the show, but he’s dropped his last two fights as well.

Stevenson might have fallen on hard times, but Cochrane seems like the perfect nemesis under the circumstances. Cochrane is a legitimate fighter that will push Stevenson, but ultimately won’t do enough to pull off the victory. Stevenson takes it by submission, but he’ll still have a long way to go before reclaiming a spot on the UFC’s roster.

Top Photo: Joe Stevenson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)