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…

Legacy Fighting Championship 12

Houston Arena Theatre in Houston
Event Date: July 13
Website: legacyfightingchampionship.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @legacyfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Chad Robichaux (14-2) vs. Will Campuzano (10-4)

Thanks to the UFC, the flyweight division is finally gaining steam. Until recently, it was beyond rare that a promotion hosting a nationally televised event would feature a battle of 125-pounders, let alone make it a headliner or co-headliner. Yet, here we are, and due to the injury withdrawal of Mike Bronzoulis, which leaves Jay Hieron with a lesser-known opponent, the showdown between Strikeforce veteran Chad Robichaux and UFC vet Will Campuzano to determine the inaugural Legacy Fighting Championship flyweight champion takes center stage.

Campuzano might have spent time in the WEC and UFC, but he has little to show for it in terms of success. The 26-year-old picked up ‘Fight of the Night’ honors for his fight with Coty Wheeler at WEC 46. That happened to be his only victory under the Zuffa umbrella, as he lost WEC bouts to Damacio Page and Eddie Wineland and suffered defeats in the UFC to Nick Pace and Chris Cariaso. He’s picked up two wins since his release from the UFC, and now finds himself fighting for flyweight gold.

Robichaux has compiled a more impressive record, though he has just one win in his last three outings. Robichaux is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and tends to secure wins by utilizing his high-level grappling skills. The 36-year-old has been in the cage with Bellator’s Zach Makovsky, lasting until the third round before succumbing to strikes.

Campuzano’s big advantage in this fight will be his reach. He was already tall and lanky as a 135-pounder, so he should really stand head and shoulders above his competitors—think Stefan Struve as a flyweight. That’s going to be evident against Robichaux, where the 5-foot-9 Campuzano will hold a six-inch height advantage. Campuzano can grapple, but with that much of a disparity in height, he’ll look to land kicks and jabs while keeping his distance to avoid getting taken down.

Although Robichaux’s two recent losses are troubling, he still holds a huge edge over Campuzano when it comes to grappling. Campuzano is a mere blue belt. The tall Mexican-American fighter did spend time with Team Alpha Male preparing for his last UFC bout, but it’s doubtful that his short time with the camp has him prepared to fend off Robichaux’s submission attempts. Campuzano is better off avoiding the ground altogether in this fight.

Campuzano can pull this off if he uses his height and reach effectively, but he has disappointed too many times throughout his career to garner any real confidence. Robichaux will find a way to get his taller opponent off-balance and take him down. Once Robichaux establishes top control, it’s just a matter of time before he wraps Campuzano up in a submission to claim the LFC gold.

Other key bouts: Jay Hieron (22-5) vs. Romario Manoel da Silva (19-9-1), D.J. Linderman (12-3) vs. Dale Mitchell (5-4), Robert Drysdale (3-0) vs. Isaac Villanueva (7-6)

United Combat Sports: Caged Combat 6

Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde, Ore.
Event Date: July 14
Website: unitedcombatsports.com

Spotlight Fight:
John Gunderson (34-13-2) vs. David Castillo (14-4)

UFC veteran John Gunderson went 1-2 inside the Octagon before receiving his pink slip. In the time since, the Xtreme Couture fighter has made it his mission to stockpile gold on the regional circuit in order to show that he deserves another run in the big show. After a 2-2 stretch following his UFC release, Gunderson has since earned the Superior Cage Combat 155-pound strap and moved up to welterweight to submit fellow UFC cast-off Karo Parisyan en route to claiming the ShoFIGHT promotion’s welterweight championship.

Two promotions, two pieces of gold. Now, Gunderson wants to add a third belt to that collection as he meets David Castillo for the United Combat Sports lightweight title.

Castillo is undefeated in his last five outings, with four wins and one no-contest. He hasn’t really faced high-level opponents, outside of a submission defeat at the hands of Chris Horodecki. Castillo’s wins have come via a mix of (T)KO’s and submissions, whereas his losses have primarily come by way of submission.

That vulnerability against grappling will likely be Castillo’s downfall in this affair. Gunderson trains with an outstanding camp and this appears to be the easiest of his trilogy of title bouts. Gunderson gets this to the ground, where he should easily outclass Castillo. This one might make it as far as the third stanza, but eventually Gunderson will snag Castillo’s arm, leg or neck and coax the tapout.

Other key bouts: Lisa Ellis (14-8) vs. Amy Davis (3-2) in a Women’s 110-pound championship bout

Shooto: 8th Round

Korakuen Hall in Tokyo
Event Date: July 16
Website: www.x-shooto.jp
Twitter: @xshooto

Spotlight Fight:
Manabu Inoue (14-7-2) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (7-1)

Rising prospect Kyoji Horiguchi wants to fight for a Shooto title, but first he’ll have to prove himself against former bantamweight King of Pancrase Manabu Inoue.

Horiguchi was Shooto’s 2010 Rookie MVP and tournament champion. The Krazy Bee product is the presumed heir apparent to popular striker Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Through eight professional fights, Horiguchi has lived up to that billing. He has been a quick finisher with knockout power. His only struggles came against Masakatsu Ueda, a top veteran fighter.

Horiguchi’s difficulties with Ueda came largely in defending takedowns, as the 21-year-old found himself fending off numerous submission attempts in the first two frames of the contest en route to losing a majority decision. He bounced back nicely against Tetsu Suzuki, but now he fights a strong wrestler in Inoue.

Inoue’s catch wrestling and stifling top control could spell doom for Horiguchi. Against Ueda, Horiguchi proved that he’s strong enough to overcome submission attempts, but Inoue is not going to go out there looking to force a tapout. Inoue’s mission is to take the fight the distance, something he has done 18 times—eleven for wins—over 23 career outings.

Inoue is strong and won’t make the same mistakes that Suzuki made when attempting to take the blonde striker to the mat. On the bright side for Horiguchi, the only two times that Inoue has been stopped, it was via knockout or TKO.

Inoue immediately looks to get this fight to the ground, where he’ll grind out a decision win.

Other key bouts: Kotetsu Boku (18-7-2) vs. Shin Kochiwa (9-3-2), Fumihiro Kitahara (10-2-1) vs. Ryuichi Miki (11-6-3), Yusaku Inoue (8-0) vs. Yoichiro Sato (9-5-2)

Photo: Chad Robichaux (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)