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…

Cage Fury Fighting Championships 16: Williams vs. Jacoby

Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Event Date: Aug. 24
Website: cffc.tv
Twitter: @RobHaydak (CFFC President) and @CFFCariasgarcia (General Manager)

Spotlight Fight:
Tim Williams (7-0) vs. Dustin Jacoby (7-2)

Tim Williams was originally set to fight David Branch in the Cage Fury headliner, but Branch bowed out with an injury. Now, Williams draws a UFC veteran in Dustin Jacoby.

Jacoby is a striker who has vanquished all opponents, except when he fought in the Octagon. Under the bright lights of the UFC, Jacoby tasted defeat via decision against Clifford Starks and by way of submission to Chris Camozzi. The Finney’s HIT Squad product tends to be aggressive early in fights, with six of his seven victories coming in the first round. When he’s stretched beyond the initial five minutes, his chances of success diminish rather quickly, as he’s only won once in the second round and lost both fights that extended to the third frame.

Williams is undefeated through seven outings, and also works fast, though his preference is to finish his adversaries on the mat. When he’s been able to secure a submission, he has finished fights in the opening stanza. When he has had to rely more on his fists, the fights have stretched into three-round affairs. Williams’ most significant win came via TKO against UFC castoff Andre Gusmao. The brown belt’s TKO victories show that he can hold his own in the stand-up, but he’ll obviously seek to get this fight to the ground.

Both men don’t waste much time before seeking a stoppage, so this fight centers on who can implement their game without making a mistake. This is especially important in the opening five minutes. Jacoby will come out of his corner looking to rock Williams and turn out his lights. Williams needs to avoid Jacoby’s fists and find a way to turn the fight into a grappling affair. Jacoby’s submission loss to a fighter like Camozzi, who is not known for his ground skills, raises a red flag as the UFC vet heads into this fight. Williams will back up while waiting for an opportunity to duck under Jacoby’s punches and drag this fight to the ground. Once there, it shouldn’t be long before Williams finds a submission for the win.

Other key bouts: George Sullivan (10-3) vs. Tenyeh Dixon (10-8), Aljamain Sterling (6-0) vs. Sidemar Honorio (8-2), Sean Santella (10-3-1) vs. Evan Velez (5-1)

Score Fighting Series 5: Fraser vs. Hill

Hamilton Palace Theater in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Event Date: Aug. 25
Website: scorefighting.com
Watch the Event: theScore.com and main card live on the Score in Canada
Twitter: @ScoreFighting

Spotlight Fight:
John Fraser (10-3) vs. Josh Hill (8-0)

The Score Fighting Series is soon to be on AXS TV, but the deal does not include this event. For those watching online and in Canada, the spotlight will be on a pair of bantamweight prospects, John Fraser and Josh Hill, both of whom call Canada home.

John “Haggis Basher” Fraser is a submission specialist who will relentlessly attack and seek to lock in chokes. The 34-year-old has spent more than ten years competing, beginning as an amateur in 2002 and transitioning to the professional ranks in 2003. His only losses came during a three-fight skid, after which Fraser went inactive for nearly three full years. Since his return, his focus has been there and he has not stumbled. He defeated Bellator veteran Travis Reddinger in his most recent outing.

Hill is going to have a hard time hanging onto his unblemished record. The 25-year-old trains out of Iron Tiger Muay Thai and has a combination of speedy striking and powerful wrestling that has led him to five decision wins, two TKO’s and a submission victory. His cardio is his biggest asset, while he lacks power in his strikes. Hill appears to be the better-rounded fighter in this affair, but can his grinding style prevail? After all, working towards a decision leaves Fraser with 15 minutes to find a submission—plenty of time for someone of Fraser’s skill level.

Hill’s wrestling has developed into one of the best parts of his game. He is effective in scoring takedowns and remains active once on the ground. The problem here is that Fraser’s submission prowess might deter Hill from seeking to put Fraser on his back. Meanwhile, Fraser’s own ability to score takedowns will be tested against Hill’s takedown defense.

If Hill can keep this fight standing, his Muay Thai skills might allow him to outpoint Fraser en route to a decision victory. However, if Hill opts to take Fraser down, or if Fraser can take Hill down, then Hill will be playing with fire. Fraser has the experience to make this into a learning experience for the younger Hill. That—and a choke—will be all that the “Haggis Basher” needs to claim another neck and score the submission win via choke.

Other key bouts: Alex Ricci (5-0) vs. Jesse Ronson (10-2), Tristan Johnson (7-2) vs. Rick Glenn (10-2-1), Will Romero (9-3) vs. David Douglas (8-4), Lyndon Whitlock (7-2) vs. Fernando Vieira (7-2), Elias Theordorou (4-0) vs. Simon Marini (9-4)

Shooto Brazil 33: Fight for BOPE 2

Special Police Operations Battalion Headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Event Date: Aug. 25
Website: shooto.com.br
Twitter: @ShootoMMABrasil

Spotlight Fight:
Eduardo Dantas (14-2) vs. Tyson Nam (11-4)

If there’s a must-see card this weekend, it’s Shooto Brazil’s second annual fundraiser for Batalhao de Operacoes Policiais Especiais (Special Police Operations Battalion). Unfortunately for MMA fans, the event is rather exclusive, taking place at a private police facility and closed to the public. And, unlike the first fundraiser, this one will not air on U.S. television through HDNet’s successor, AXS TV. It’s a shame, too, as not only does the event feature Bellator’s recently crowned bantamweight champion, Eduardo Dantas, taking on EliteXC veteran Tyson Nam, but there are at least three other key fights on this card that are worthy of attention.

Dantas, fresh off an April submission win over Zach Makovsky that earned him the Bellator gold, opted to stay busy rather than sitting idle while awaiting the outcome of Bellator’s season-six bantamweight tournament. It’s a risky move for both Dantas and Bellator, though it’s hard to argue against it when Bellator often puts its champions in non-title affairs under its own banner.

Bellator recently announced Dantas’ next bout for Nov. 2, but first he’ll have to contend with Nam at Shooto Brazil’s highest profile event of the year. Including the win over Makovsky, Dantas has strung together seven straight victories. He’s run through the likes of Wilson Reis, Ed West and Alexis Vila during that stretch. And though Dantas does have two losses in 16 professional outings, one came via a disqualification due to illegal soccer kicks. Only Masakatsu Ueda, in a 2009 bout for the Shooto 132-pound world championship, handed Dantas a definitive loss.

Dantas called Shooto Brazil home before stepping into the Bellator cage, and held the promotion’s 132-pound South American championship. The Bellator champ is another dangerous product of the Nova Uniao camp, which has also produced UFC champ Jose Aldo and interim champ Renan Barao. The similarities to his teammates are obvious—Dantas prefers to strike, but he is also extremely dangerous once the fight hits the mat. He presents an all-around challenge to anyone he faces. It’s interesting to note, however, that even a number of the heavy-handed fighters that Dantas has defeated have been wrestlers and grapplers first and foremost. His loss to Ueda came primarily as result of takedowns—and a penalty Dantas suffered for holding onto the ropes to avoid takedowns.

Nam fits into the striker mold, and that’s something Dantas hasn’t seen as much of at the highest levels. Of Nam’s eleven wins, five have come by some form of knockout. After training with Team Quest for a couple of years, Nam now calls the Sports Lab home. The biggest knock on Nam has to be the level of competition he’s faced. In his recent three-fight winning streak, he twice defeated the same opponent, while his other victory came against a foe that now holds a record of 1-4 as a professional. Prior to that streak, Name did fight some quality opposition, with mixed results.

This will be Nam’s first fight outside of the United States, and that might just compound what is already a huge disadvantage for the striker. He’ll be heading into Dantas’ backyard, competing on foreign soil for the first time, and he’ll have his hands full with a top-10 bantamweight. Having never fought competition at such an elite level, it might all be too much for Nam. With the power he packs, Nam can never be counted out completely, but what seems to be the biggest challenge for Dantas is a wrestler who can wear him down, but also stand with him. That’s not Nam’s repertoire.

This should be a hard-fought war on the feet, whereas Dantas should have a distinct advantage on the mat. Dantas prefers to strike, but he’ll use it to rock Nam and finish the Sports Lab fighter on the mat by submission.

Other key bouts: Rodolfo Marques Diniz (14-2) vs. Pedro Nobre (11-0-1), Ronys Torres (24-4) vs. Alejandro Solano Rodriguez (14-5), Daniel Acacio (28-13) vs. Leandro Silva (18-7)

Photo: Eduardo Dantas (L) trains for his fight (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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