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…

Pancrase Progress Tour 14

Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: Dec. 1
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Jon Shores (11-1) vs. Koji Oishi (22-9-9)

Pancrase has consistently put together some of the best shows in Japan, and the 14th installment of its Progress Tour series is no different. The promotion’s super flyweight King of Pancrase crown will be on the line with champion Kiyotaka Shimizu defending against Yuki Yasunaga, and two other champions—Isao Kobayashi and Rin Nakai—will compete in non-title affairs. Meanwhile, in what might be the most intriguing fight on the card, former lightweight King of Pancrase Koji Oishi locks horns with contender Jon Shores.

Oishi lost his crown in April, but bounced back with a doctor’s stoppage TKO victory over Rob Hill in August. Now, the 35-year-old UFC veteran sets his sights on a new weight class, dropping to featherweight for this affair. Specializing in karate and wrestling, Oishi has not demonstrated much finishing ability. He has scored six wins by some form of knockout, but he’s also gone the distance in 30 of his 40 fights, with 16 verdicts going in his favor.

Shores did some bouncing back of his own. After losing to Takumi Nakayama in a bid for the featherweight King of Pancrase title, Shores earned a unanimous decision win over fellow American Guy Delumeau. Shores has demonstrated knockout power and submission skills, but considers wrestling and kickboxing to be his biggest weaknesses.

The biggest task at hand for the 30-year-old Shores is to find a way to finish the fight. Oishi has tallied 16 wins, five losses and nine draws in fights he’s taken the distances. Meanwhile, he’s just 6-4 in fights that have ended in finishes. Although Shores has never lost via a decision, Oishi is quite capable of changing that. Oishi has fought as big as welterweight before, so he might enter this contest as the larger man. That could help when it comes to his wrestling-oriented game.

Shores needs to avoid getting bogged down in Oishi’s grinding style. If he can steer clear of Oishi’s clinch game and elude the Japanese fighter’s takedown attempts, then he might be able to put together a striking attack that can test Oishi’s chin.

Oishi is probably most known to American MMA fans for his knockout loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 153 (interesting side note: Oishi avenged that loss by defeating Nick’s brother, Nate, in his very next outing). Oishi has been knocked out once—in 2007—since then, so he might be susceptible to Shores’ knockout power.

There are two likely outcomes to this tussle: either Oishi grinds out another decision, or Shores uses his power punching to dominate Oishi. Oishi has only lost once since 2008, and he’s made a habit of going the distance. If he can push this fight into deep waters, he might be able to test Shores’ cardio. Shores has already lost to the featherweight King of Pancrase, and now here he is meeting the recently dethroned lightweight King. Although Shores has a very good chance at winning, the favorite has to be Oishi. Look for the UFC vet to grind his way to another decision win.

Other key bouts: Kiyotaka Shimizu (11-7-3) vs. Yuki Yasunaga (9-5) for the super flyweight (125lb.) King of Pancrase title, Isao Kobayashi (12-1-3) vs. Kenichiro Togashi (12-8-5), Rin Nakai (12-0-1) vs. Danielle West (4-4-1), Yuki Kosaka (12-4-2) vs. Yuki Baba (9-2)


National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England
Event Date: Dec. 1
Website: bamma.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @bammauk

Spotlight Fight:
Jack Marshman (11-1) vs. Xavier Foupa-Pokam (22-18)

If one wants to see a striking battle this weekend, they need look no further than the headlining contest of BAMMA 11. The British promotion has put together a lineup filled with prospects, including main-event fighter Jack Marshman. The middleweight will meet UFC veteran Xavier Foupa-Pokam at this weekend’s event.

Marshman’s only loss came against Tom Watson in a bid for Watson’s world middleweight championship. Marshman already held the British middleweight crown and had successfully defended it once prior to his fight with Watson. He was to defend it again following the Watson fight, but missed weight for his scheduled defense against Andrew Punshon and was subsequently stripped of the belt.

For Foupa-Pokam, the UFC might actually have been the worst thing to happen to his career. That’s not something you hear often, but it’s a valid statement considering that “Professor X” was 20-9 and riding a seven-fight winning streak when he signed with the UFC. He’s gone just 2-9 since, including two UFC losses. Many of Foupa-Pokam’s losses have not even come against highly-touted prospects like Marshman.

Foupa-Pokam is a Muay Thai specialist trained by current UFC fighter Cyrille Diabate. Although his preference is towards a striking attack, the 30-year-old Frenchman has also racked up seven victories via submission. However, he has also lost eight times by way of submission.

Marshman is a former Army boxing champion in the British Armed Forces and has boxed professionally. He has finished two of his opponents by submission, but don’t look for him to get tangled up in a grappling affair unless he gets outgunned by Foupa-Pokam in the stand-up department.

This is a fight where the first man to hit his target is the man likely to find his hand raised at the conclusion of the contest. Foupa-Pokam’s Muay Thai skills make him a legitimate threat, but it’s hard to look at his recent record and find much to say in his favor. Possibly the only bright side for the Frenchman coming into this fight is that he once beat Watson, the only man who has handed Marshman a loss. That was in 2007, and Foupa-Pokam captured the win via a submission.

That victory for the UFC veteran came during a 12-1 stretch in his career. He’s clearly not the same locked-in fighter he was in those days. Marshman’s record isn’t perfect, but he has been the more focused and successful of the two men in this match-up. This fight should be a great striking affair, but Marshman will land the cleaner, more powerful blows en route to a TKO victory.

Other key bouts: Warren Kee (7-1-1) vs. Tom Breese (5-0) for the Lonsdale British welterweight title, Steven Ray (11-3) vs. Dale Hardiman (9-3) for the Lonsdale British lightweight title, Kevin Thompson (13-5) vs. Max Nunes (8-0), Marcin Lazarz (4-0) vs. Sam Mensah (4-1), James Doolan (16-8-2) vs. Spencer Hewitt (10-3), Richie Downes (7-1) vs. Jeremy Petley (8-4-1), Andrew Fisher (10-4-1) vs. Andy Green (3-1)

KSW 21: Final Resolution

Torwar in Warsaw, Poland
Event Date: Dec. 1
Website: konfrontacja.com
Watch Event: live stream on ksw.ipla.tv
Twitter: @KSW_MMA

Spotlight Fight:
Mamed Khalidov (25-4-2) vs. Kendall Grove (17-10)

The theme for this week has obviously become one of top prospects versus UFC veterans. In the cases of Pancrase and BAMMA, those UFC vets were a combined 0-4 in the Octagon. That makes the KSW main event a slightly different animal. KSW’s prospect, Mamed Khalidov, doesn’t get just any UFC veteran. With originally scheduled opponent Melvin Manhoef bowing out, Khalidov gets a late replacement foe whose mantle is decorated with an Ultimate Fighter trophy and whose resume includes seven Octagon wins. That opponent is TUF 3 winner Kendall Grove.

Grove’s seven UFC victories are accompanied by six Octagon losses, so he’s not an elite fighter, but he’s still quite a challenge for Khalidov. Grove’s lanky frame allows him to attack from range and with knees from the clinch. However, it’s the Hawaiian’s ground game that’s his best asset. Grove possesses a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has trained with B.J. Penn and has worked his way to nine submission wins.

Khalidov will have to be wary of Grove’s choke attacks during this fight. Khalidov once won the ADCC Polish Trials and has won 13 of his fights via submission, so he does have a skilled grappling game. However, he has also demonstrated a balanced attack, having won 11 fights by way of some form of knockout. Be it strikes or submissions, the 32-year-old tends to come out aggressive. His last seven wins have ended in the first frame and 20 of his 25 victories overall have come via first-round stoppage. Most of his losses have also ended in the first round, so it’s safe to say that the most important part of this fight is the opening five minutes.

That’s bad news for Grove. He has shown a tendency to crumble when opponents get in his face and don’t back down. Just ask Jorge Rivera or Patrick Cote. Khalidov’s striking attack will be just as aggressive, if not more so, than what Grove saw against those two foes in the UFC. Although Grove has mostly righted the ship in his post-UFC run, going 6-1, he hasn’t faced someone of Khalidov’s caliber in that time, nor has he faced a fighter with such a well-rounded arsenal.

If Grove manages to get this fight to the ground, he has a great chance to win this fight. However, it’s highly unlikely he’ll get his chance to ground his Polish opponent. Khalidov will be in Grove’s face from the opening bell. His opening flurries will be too much for Grove to withstand, as the UFC veteran succumbs to a beating that results in a TKO stoppage.

Other key bouts: Michal Materla (17-3) vs. Rodney Wallace (14-5) for the middleweight title, Aslambek Saidov (12-3) vs. Borys Mankowski (13-4-1) for the welterweight title, Maciej Jewtuszko (9-2) vs. Artur Sowinski (12-6) for the lightweight title, Piotr Straus (7-1) vs. Krzysztof Kulak (25-12-2), Matt Horwich (27-21-1) vs. Terry Martin (22-10)

Photo: Mamed Khalidov has his arms raised in victory (Jumana Totongi/Sherdog)

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