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…

Jeremy Horn’s Elite Fight Night

The Complex in Salt Lake City
Event Date: Jan. 11
Website: hornselite.com

Spotlight Fight:
Dave Allred (10-4) vs. Ray Davis (7-6)

The most commonly associated name with Utah MMA is that of UFC veteran Jeremy Horn. Horn developed a fight promotion in his home state to showcase Utah’s best fighters, and Horn’s Elite Fight Night returns on Jan. 11 with another night of action. The most intriguing fight on the card pits Dave Allred against Ray Davis.

Allred may be 10-4 overall, but he’s 7-1 over his last eight fights. The only loss in that span came against Bellator tournament standout Rad Martinez. Martinez handed Allred a TKO loss in Jan. 2009, but Allred bounced back with five straight wins, including three submission finishes. The ground is definitely where Allred prefers to be. He has ended seven of his fights via submission, many by way of rear-naked or guillotine choke. As with many grapplers, Allred’s biggest weakness comes in the stand-up department. He has twice fallen victim to a TKO, including one loss to a fighter who currently holds a 4-4 record.

Allred is fighting another fighter who is toeing that .500 line. Davis is just one fight above that mark and hasn’t strung back-to-back wins together since 2009. In fact, Davis’ most recent fight ended in a devastating knockout loss—and it happened in December. When Davis does win, he wins via submission.

Allred suffered two losses early in his career against Daniel Stenovich, the previously mentioned 4-4 fighter. Outside of those defeats, he has only come up short against Rad Martinez and an 11-0 fighter named Nathan Gerrard. He has turned his career around after a mediocre start. However, he has been away from action for a year and a half now.

Allred’s opponent has an even bigger question mark looming over him though. Davis’ last fight was just over a month ago. He lasted all of 54 seconds before being knocked out, and it seems awfully soon for him to return to action following the defeat. He is facing a grappler in Allred, but Allred likely holds a striking advantage over Davis.

Allred has put together a nice run since his loss to Martinez, but he’ll have to shake off the ring rust in this fight. Davis should provide him with the opportunity to do just that. Allred will come out strong and get the better of Davis. Eventually, the fight will end up on the ground, where Allred should once again enjoy the upper hand. He’ll submit Davis within the first frame.

Pancrase: 244

Shinjuku Face in Tokyo
Event Date: Jan. 12
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Hiroki Aoki (11-6-1) vs. Kohei Tokeshi (5-3-1)

Not every Pancrase event can be part of the Progress Tour series. In Pancrase’s latest offering of its basic numbered series, the promotion offers up a lightweight battle that sees longtime Pancrase veteran Hiroki Aoki return to the organization following a three-fight stint with Deep. Aoki will meet the less-experienced Kohei Tokeshi.

Hiroki, who is in no way related to the more well-known Shinya Aoki, kicked off his professional career in 2008. Although it could be said that he lacks consistency in winning fights, Aoki’s losses have come against tough competition, including Maximo Blanco and Isao Kobayashi. Blanco and Kobayashi scored TKO victories over “AB,” and Kobayashi holds an additional win over the Wajutsu Keishukai Suruga product by way of disqualification. Aoki’s wins are somewhat evenly balanced between knockouts, submissions and decisions. His losses, however, tend to come via decision or TKO.

Tokeshi is a Deep and Pancrase veteran. Despite a smaller number of fights on his resume, the Crosspoint Gym Kichioji product actually made his pro debut nearly a full year prior to Aoki’s first fight. Tokeshi struggled in his earliest outings, fighting to a draw in his debut and returning more than three-and-a-half years later to two split decisions finishes in which he took one win and one loss. However, he has put together four wins over his last five outings.

Tokeshi’s preferred method of attack is through his striking. That could make things interesting against Aoki, whose biggest weakness lies in his inability to take a punch. But Aoki has fought plenty of high-level opponents throughout the years, whereas Tokeshi’s record has been aided heavily by subpar competition. Tokeshi will look for the knockout, but Aoki will try to drag this fight to the mat. Tokeshi won’t be finished easily, so this fight is likely heading to the judges’ scorecards. The verdict will favor the 27-year-old Aoki over his 24-year-old counterpart.

World War Fighting Championships 10: The Kumite

7 Flags Event Center in Clive, Iowa
Event Date: Jan. 12
Website: worldwarfightingchampionships.com
Twitter: @WorldWarFC

Spotlight Fight:
Brad Floyd (10-5) vs. Justin Morrison (5-4)

Regional promotions give prospects a chance to shine, and that’s what Brad Floyd hopes to do in a championship affair at the latest offering from the Iowa-based World War Fighting Championships. Floyd will be fighting for gold in the bantamweight division versus Justin Morrison.

Floyd is coming off of the signature win of his career, a first-round knockout of Bellator veteran Travis Reddinger. He has now won seven straight and eight of his last nine. Floyd prefers to stand and bang, as evidenced by his seven victories via some form of knockout. He’s not as skilled on the ground, where he has suffered four of his five losses.

Morrison’s career can best be described as a love-hate relationship with the grappling game. Outside of one decision—a win over Drew Wells—Morrison has seen his fights end on the mat. The problem is that he only comes out on the winning side in 50 percent of those contests. His amateur career was much more successful; he won six fights by way of submission and was only submitted once (he also lost a decision).

These two Iowa natives are not afraid to go to war on their feet. Floyd has the better stand-up, whereas Morrison might be able to upset Floyd if he can get the fight to the canvas. Morrison hasn’t shown that he’s vulnerable to strikes in the same way that Floyd has demonstrated that submissions are his Achilles’ heel. That makes this a prime fight for an upset.

Both men will come out swinging and it should result in an exciting standing exchange. Floyd will need to rock Morrison and finish him on the mat, whereas Morrison needs to find a way to drag Morrison to the ground. Given Morrison’s underwhelming record and Floyd’s recent upset of Reddinger, the likelihood is that Floyd is able to score the knockdown and follow up with a rear-naked choke to end the contest and claim the belt.

Other key bouts: Brian Green (29-17) vs. Victor Moreno (30-17) for the middleweight title

Photo: Hiroki Aoki (L) celebrates victory (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)