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…

Xtreme Fighting Championships 20: High Octane

Knoxville Civic Auditorium and Coliseum in Knoxville, Tenn.
Event Date: Sept. 29
Website: officialxfc.com
Watch the Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @OfficialXFC

Spotlight Fight:
Eric Reynolds (15-5) vs. Lorenzo Borgomeo (9-4)

What’s more risky than securing a title shot but then accepting a fight in the meantime? Well, there’s always the chance that you also end up fighting a late replacement in that fight. That’s what lightweight contender Eric Reynolds has to deal with this Friday night against Lorenzo Borgomeo.

Borgomeo steps in on short notice after Reynolds’ original foe, Danny Salinas, was forced to withdraw with a bicep injury. Reynolds had already secured a lightweight title date with the promotion for December, but now he’ll have to overcome the Italian Blackzilian in order to maintain his chance at XFC gold.

Borgomeo is a highly decorated kickboxer and Muay Thai practitioner. However, he’s spent a good portion of his MMA career training with American Top Team and has posted more wins via submission than by way of knockout. Borgomeo has fought under the Bellator and EliteXC banners, but he lost all but one of his appearances with those promotions.

Reynolds is a striker with a background more rooted in traditional boxing. While Borgomeo now works out of his own camp in Italy and also trains with the Blackzilians, Reynolds is a member of the American Top Team camp. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and much like Borgomeo, has managed to find almost equal success in finishing opponents via both submissions and strikes.

Reynolds hasn’t fought much in the last two years after being very active for the three years prior. However, he is riding a two-fight winning streak that has earned him No. 1 contender status. His losses have come against the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Jorge Masvidal, Luis Palomino and Rob Emerson.

Meanwhile, Borgomeo has lost to some very average opposition. In fact, he’ll look to rebound from a decision loss in his last outing versus a fighter who was only competing for the second time as a professional. He’s lost twice via decision and suffered a TKO in a fight when he failed to answer the bell for the second round. The only time he was stopped while in action was an armbar submission loss to Mikey Gomez.

Borgomeo has proven to be a tough out during his career, but he’s also suffered defeats against fighters primarily of a caliber lower than Reynolds. Reynolds definitely will take the safe route in this fight, and coming off fights that went the distance in his previous two outings, it’s likely we’ll see more of the same here. Reynolds will grind out a decision over Borgomeo to preserve his December date for a title tilt.

Other key bouts: Sofia Bagherdai (4-2) vs. Sarah Maloy (3-2), Cornelius Godfrey (5-0) vs. Shah Bobonis (13-7)

Shooto: 10th Round

Korakuen Hall in Tokyo
Event Date: Sept. 30
Website: www.x-shooto.jp
Twitter: @xshooto

Spotlight Fight:
Caol Uno (26-15-5) vs. Shintaro Ishiwatari (13-4-4)

Shooto has been home at one time or another to many of Japanese MMA’s legends, and one of them is set to return to the organization following an eight-plus year absence. Caol Uno, who last fought under the Shooto banner in March 2004 after launching his pro career there in 1996, will step into the Shooto ring against current bantamweight King of Pancrase, Shintaro Ishiwatari.

Ishiwatari has also been away from Shooto for a while. He last competed under for the promotion in 2010, before venturing to Sengoku and Pancrase. The judo player is on a four-fight winning streak, but he has turned mostly to the judges in recent years, rather than display the finishing ability that was more prevalent in his earlier fights. The Pancrase champ is stepping up from 135 to 143 pounds for this outing.

Uno’s return is nostalgic, but it comes a full year after a vicious head-kick knockout served to him by Takeshi “Lion” Inoue. Furthermore, Uno has struggled to find success over the last five years. In that span, he has gone just 2-6-1 while competing for K-1, Dream and the UFC. Uno has 13 victories via submission, six losses by some form of knockout and has gone to a decision in 17 of his fights.

Uno is a veteran submission specialist and can always keep things interesting. He went the distance with Shinya Aoki during the lightweight’s dominant stretch and, during his most recent stint with the UFC, engaged in a hard-fought war with Spencer Fisher. With 46 fights under his belt, experience is one of Uno’s biggest assets. And size might actually be on his side in this encounter as well, as Ishiwatari moves up from bantamweight.

However, at ten years the senior of the bantamweight King of Pancrase, Uno is definitely nearing the end of his career. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Ishiwatari is in his prime. This is one of those fights where size and experience might help Uno hang in there, but it won’t be enough to give him the win. This one likely goes the distance, but Uno’s time away and his recent string of losses suggests that he’ll come out on the wrong end of this fight when the judges’ scores are read.

Other key bouts: Mikihito Yamagami (7-2) vs. Junji Ito (9-3)

M-1 Challenge 34: Emelianenko vs. Gluhov

Druzhba Sport Hall in Moscow
Event Date: Sept. 30
Website: m-1global.com
Twitter: @OfficialM1

Spotlight Fight:
Aleksander Emelianenko (20-5) vs. Konstantin Gluhov (24-10)

Fedor Emelianenko may be retired, but his brother, Aleksander, remains active. In fact, Fedor’s younger brother is set to headline M-1 Global’s latest effort, M-1 Challenge 34, against Konstantin Gluhov.

Gluhov is a highly decorated world champion Muay Thai fighter and kickboxer. With 11 knockout wins in his kickboxing career and 15 in the world of MMA, there’s one strategy that should be avoided by most opponents: standing with this man. The Latvian striker is dangerous on his feet.

Although Emelianenko possesses a Sambo background and would be well advised in taking this fight to the mat, he’s also a boxer who likes to stand and bang. The Russian has 13 wins of his own by some form of knockout, as well as three (T)KO losses.

This is going to be a slugfest, and one that’s likely to be short-lived. Aleksander doesn’t quite strike fear into opponents in the same way that his sibling could in his prime. And Gluhov has a striking arsenal that can be especially dangerous. If Emelianenko takes this fight to the gound early, he’ll have a great opportunity at winning. If, however, he remains stubborn and chooses to exchange with the Latvian, he’s likely to be staring up at the lights when all is said and done.

Emelianenko has built up a four-fight winning streak, but Gluhov is the type of striker that can bring a quick end to the night. We’re going to see a lot of striking in this fight, but Gluhov is the more skilled in that category. Whether it be a punch or a head kick, Gluhov will eventually land a strike that leaves Emelianenko dazed or unconscious.

Other key bouts: Sergey Kornev (10-2) vs. Marcin Zontek (12-7) for the vacant light heavyweight title, Yasubey Enomoto (9-4) vs. Khusein Khaliev (5-0), Enoc Solves Torres (11-5) vs. Gregory Babene (14-10) in an M-1 Selection middleweight tournament semifinal bout

Photo: Aleksander Emelianenko (Sergey Polivets/MixFight.ru)