Every Thursday, The MMA Corner will take a look at three regional or international cards, previewing from each a single fight to which people should pay close attention. We will also list other significant bouts from the card, as well as information on how to follow each promotion and watch the events.

Let’s discover those prospects that fight in the obscurity of the regional and international circuits, waiting for their shot at the bright lights and big stage of the UFC, and those veterans looking for one more chance at stardom. It all begins here, in the small convention centers and high school gymnasiums. It all begins with promotions such as these…

Starlight Events: Gladiator World Cup 2012

Marbella Bullring in Marbella, Spain
Event Date: July 6

Spotlight Fight:
Yana Kunitskaya (8-1) vs. Danielle West (4-3-1)

Yana Kunitskaya has posted six straight wins and has only lost once in her pro career. It’s an impressive start for a female fighter, and one that puts her in the conversation for a spot in the top-10 rankings. The 22-year-old, who fights out of The Patriot Team in Lithuania, has taken home honors in both Muay Thai and Taekwondo in Russia, and also has a background in sambo.

Her foe, Danielle West, stepped in for originally-scheduled opponent Stacey Hayes. West’s record can be a bit deceiving, as she almost handed Japanese standout Rin Nakai the first loss of her career and has twice defeated Maria Hougaard, the only woman to hand Kunitskaya a loss.

West might fly under the radar with her mediocre record, but beyond the near-win against Nakai—the fight ended in a controversial split draw—there’s hardly anything impressive to note on her resume. The wins over Hougaard give her some hope against Kunitskaya, but her losses via TKO are a red flag going into a showdown with a striker of Kunitskaya’s level. West’s last TKO loss came just 24 seconds into the bout against a smaller Milana Dudieva.

If West can fall that quickly to a smaller opponent, there’s little hope for her chin when the 35-year-old British fighter tangles with Kunitskaya. Kunitskaya will overwhelm West with her superior striking and bring this affair to a quick end with a first-round knockout.

Other key bouts: Eight-man one-night K1 rules tournament with a $15,000 grand prize

Nitro MMA 6

Logan Entertainment Centre in Logan City, Australia
Event Date: July 7
Website: www.nitromma.com.au
Twitter: @NitroMMA

Spotlight Fight:
Ben Mortimer (7-5) vs. Ian Bone (9-6)

Even spiders are wreaking havoc on the injury-plagued Nitro MMA 6 card, but the headlining bout for the promotion’s vacant welterweight title remains intact (at least as of the writing of this preview). Two Australians will lock horns to battle for the gold, as Ian Bone takes on Ben Mortimer.

Mortimer happens to be one of only two fighters that Karo Parisyan has defeated since 2008. That’s not really something to brag about, and neither is his 2-3 record over the span of his last five outings. He has primarily one way to victory and many routes to defeat.

Bone, who started off his career with eight wins in 11 outings, can’t exactly brag either. The Body Torque fighter has won just once in his last four contests. Whereas Mortimer’s game is based on striking, Bone tends to seek the submission.

Mortimer recently changed camps and worked on his grappling two times per day for six days out of the week. The Gold Coast native also said he planned to enter grappling tournaments in the lead up to the fight as a way to further hone his mat skills.

There’s only so much a striker can do, however. Mortimer has held WKBF gold in Australia, so striking is still first and foremost in his arsenal. He could definitely score a knockout or TKO of Bone, but Bone happens to have a knack for latching on to opponent’s necks with his rear-naked choke. Guess what? Mortimer has twice succumbed to that exact move, including in his battle with Parisyan. I think you know where I’m headed with this: Bone captures the strap with a rear-naked choke victory midway through the contest.

Other key bouts: Tyler Manawaroa (6-0) vs. Jon Leven (5-18)

Shaolin-Ryu: Fight Club Den Haag 2

Partycentrum Zichtenburg in The Hague, Netherlands
Event Date: July 8

Spotlight Fight:
Mario Stapel (19-16) vs. Hracho Darpinyan (8-4)

Striker versus grappler seems to be the theme of this week’s action, all of which takes place outside the realm of the U.S. regional circuit. The final such pairing here is that of Brazilian Jiu-JItsu black belt Mario Stapel and Armenian striker Hracho Darpinyan.

Stapel definitely holds the edge in experience. However, the German has never found consistency in his career, with four fights as his longest winning streak in a 35-fight career. Stapel tends to fall victim to either his opponent’s fists or the judges. Meanwhile, he’s had a fair amount of success with his striking, though the majority of his victories have come by way of submission.

Darpinyan tends to lose via decision and win by finishing his opponents. While Darpinyan is considered the striker in this affair, it is interesting to note that he holds more wins via submission than (T)KO. And out of his four submission wins, a minimum of two have come through actual submission holds as opposed to a submission due to strikes.

The biggest question might be whether Stapel makes it to the ring, as he has become known for withdrawing from fights at the last minute. Assuming he emerges from the locker room ready to fight, he’ll have to find a way to avoid Darpinyan’s striking and grind this out to a decision. Darpinyan’s ability to submit foes suggests that he’s the better-rounded of the two combatants, however, and his finishing ability is a key factor in this contest. Darpinyan adds another somewhat impressive name to his resume with a TKO victory over Stapel.

Photo: Yana Kunitskaya (Facebook/Yana Kunitskaya)