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…

Tachi Palace Fights 16: The Return

Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif.
Event Date: Aug. 22
Website: tachipalace.com
Twitter: @Tachipalace

Spotlight Fight:
Art Arciniega (13-4) vs. Marcello Cassero (7-0)

Tachi Palace Fights was once among the top regional promotions in the nation, but then it was gone. Or so it seemed. With a card dubbed “The Return,” the promotion is officially still alive and kicking. Its 16th card features former Bellator champ Joe Soto, as well as a lightweight title tilt in the headlining slot. However, it’s the co-headlining featherweight championship bout between Art Arciniega and the undefeated Marcello Cassero that catches our eye.

Arciniega is a former PFC featherweight champ. “King Arthur” has logged eight submission wins, a lone TKO victory and took four fights on the scorecards. He tends to lose via strikes or decision. The 31-year-old Californian is riding a six-fight winning streak and is 7-1 over his last eight outings. The lone loss in that stretch? It came via unanimous decision in 2009 against current UFC contender Chad Mendes. Arciniega also holds a submission victory over UFC vet Jared Papazian.

Cassero’s undefeated seven-fight pro MMA mark can be traced back to April 2007. The NorCal Fighting Alliance product scored five wins between then and February 2009. He was inactive until returning in October 2012 with a TKO win over Dillon Mueller and following up with a TKO of Vince Murdock in June. He has never gone the distance. Cassero has three wins via strikes and four by way of submission.

Cassero’s undefeated run looks impressive at first glance, but the lengthy hiatus and his level of competition suggest that the zero in his loss column might not survive much longer. Arciniega has been in the cage with the likes of the UFC’s Mendes and Papazian, and his experience is a valuable asset in this fight. Cassero does have the ability to finish fights standing or on the mat, but Arciniega is a tough out. He has suffered a nine-second knockout loss to a subpar fighter in Tony Boyles and an additional TKO loss, though, so his chin is questionable.

Despite the long hiatus and a resume lacking in marquee names, Cassero has a skill set that makes it difficult to dismiss his chances. He has a jiu-jitsu background, but his striking has carried him to his two victories since returning to action. It should carry him to a third win here.

Other key bouts: Poppies Martinez (26-8) vs. Christos Giagos (6-1) for the lightweight title, Joe Soto (11-2) vs. Bernard Turner (7-3), Rolando Velasco (8-2-1) vs. Sergio Cortez (8-8), Cain Carrizosa (3-0) vs. Cody Orrison (2-0), Jimmy Grant (4-1) vs. Anthony Figueroa (7-7-1)

Australian Fighting Championship 6

Melbourne Pavilion in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Event Date: Aug. 24
Website: afcmma.com.au
Twitter: @AFCMMAFighting

Spotlight Fight:
Rob Lisita (11-5) vs. Rodolfo Marques Diniz (14-2-1)

With two sets of tournament semifinals, a title fight and two top featherweights set for action, the Australian Fighting Championship has constructed a strong lineup for its sixth effort. Although all of those fights feature intriguing prospects, it’s the featherweight tussle between Rob Lisita and Rodolfo Marques Diniz that stands out as the most compelling bout of the bunch.

It’s not often that someone in the sport of MMA can say they already have 16 professional fights with 11 wins after training in the sport for barely five years. Lisita, however, is one of these rare individuals. Though he has fought just once in 2013 (not including a modified rules bout for the Combat8 promotion), the 30-year-old is coming off a 2012 campaign that saw him enter into combat on five separate occasions. The featherweight has won four of his last five, with the lone defeat coming via unanimous decision to Japanese prospect Yusuke Kawanago. However, the Phuket Top Team product’s recent stretch of success was preceded by a two-fight skid that saw him drop decisions to Ben Wall and Bernardo Magalhaes. The former rugby player has finished his opponent in eight of his 11 victories, including six by submission.

Diniz is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and trains under the tutelage of Andre Pederneiras with Nova Uniao. “The Nightmare” has only lost once in his last 13 fights, dating back to 2009. However, he is winless in his last two outings, with a loss to Bibiano Fernandes and a draw versus Pedro Nobre (which was originally a majority decision in Diniz’s favor before it was overturned by the promoter). Despite his black belt, the 29-year-old actually has more striking victories—four—than submissions—one. Diniz has seen 12 of his fights go the distance, with nine victories and two defeats on the scorecards, plus the draw.

Lisita is at a pivotal point in his career. By his own admission, he may be forced to rethink his career choice if his fight with Diniz doesn’t go well. What makes matters worse for the Aussie fighter is that he’s facing an uphill battle in taking on Diniz. The Brazilian is at home in Australia, but has the backing of a stellar camp that features UFC champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barao. Diniz also signifies an even tougher test than any of Lisita’s previous opponents, including the ones that have already handed Lisita losses. As a BJJ black belt who has primarily finished opponents with strikes, Diniz also presents a well-rounded challenge for Lisita.

The difference here may seem like it lies in the styles of these two fighters, but that’s not necessarily the case. Diniz is willing to grind out decisions, whereas Lisita would prefer to take care of business in as efficient a manner as possible. Diniz has only finished one fight since the end of 2009, whereas Lisita has stopped all but three of his opponents. However, there’s a catch: only three of Lisita’s last nine fights have ended in finishes (all in Lisita’s favor).

Lisita may have been submitted twice early in his career, but he’s developed into a tough out. Diniz’s superior grappling could lead to a submission finish, but the more likely outcome in this fight is one that involves the judges. After a hard-fought contest, Diniz should emerge with the unanimous verdict.

Other key bouts: Daniel Hooker (9-4) vs. Nick Patterson (11-3-1) for the lightweight title, Bor Bratovz (8-3) vs. Daniel Kelly (4-0) and Vik Grujic (6-2) vs. Steven Kennedy (12-6) in middleweight tournament semifinal bouts, Corey Nelson (13-4-1) vs. Walber de Barros (6-4) and Jake Mathews (2-0) vs. Dean Purdon (4-0) in welterweight tournament semifinal bouts

Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 58

Olympisk Arena in Grozny, Chechnya
Event Date: Aug. 24
Website: cagewarriors.com
Watch Event: Fight Now TV (USA), Premier Sports (United Kingdom), Setanta Sports 1 (Ireland), Fight Network (Canada, Portugal, Turkey, Angola, Mozambique) and ESPN (Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Rim). Main card live stream on MMA Junkie (USA/Canada), PremierSports.tv (United Kingdom), JOE.ie (Ireland), ESPN (Brazil) and cagewarriors.tv (rest of the world).
Twitter: @CageWarriors

Spotlight Fight:
James Brum (12-2) vs. Ruslan Abiltarov (10-3)

The British-based Cage Warriors promotion continues its quest for international expansion with a visit to Chechnya for its 58th show. With such prospects as Ivan Buchinger, Pavel Kusch, James Brum and Ruslan Abiltarov on the card, there’s certainly no shortage of talent in this effort. Whereas Buchinger and Kusch draw less experienced opponents, Brum and Abiltarov pair off for a showdown of bantamweight prospects.

The 26-year-old Brum has suffered just two losses, including a submission defeat at the hands of UFC veteran Erik Perez. Meanwhile, he has notched wins over the likes of James Saville, Olivier Pastor and Moktar Benkaci. He is riding a six-fight winning streak that extends to October 2011. The Englishman has finished five opponents by some form of knockout, one via submission and went the distance in the remainder of his wins. Those six consecutive decision victories also happen to account for Brum’s current winning streak, perhaps suggesting that he has lost some of his killer instinct.

Abiltarov rebounded from a two-fight skid in March to post four straight wins. No, you did not misread that—he has fought six times in the last five months. In fact, the 21-year-old only turned professional in July 2012, amassed a 4-1 mark by year’s end and has entered into combat an astounding eight times in 2013. The Ukranian’s participation in the Gladiators FC tournament in July accounts for three of those fights, with Abiltarov seeing just over three and a half minutes of combined action spanning three bouts. By the tournament’s conclusion, he has submitted Alexander Kayumov via heel hook in 38 seconds, scored a TKO of Bogdan Pashkov in 81 seconds and submitted Armen Dzhragatspanyan by way of triangle choke in 94 seconds. Abiltarov has a total of six submission wins and one TKO, with his remaining four victories coming on the judges’ scorecards. He has suffered defeat once courtesy of Russian prospect Alexey Nevzorov and twice—once via decision and once by way of submission—at the hands of undefeated Ukrainian prospect Rustam Kulik.

The biggest knock on Abiltarov’s record is the level of competition he’s faced. His three losses came against competitors who now stand at 4-0 and 7-1, but his victories came against middling competition, with the exception of a split decision win over Yunus Evloev at M-1 Challenge 40. In order to further develop his reputation as a fast-rising young prospect, Abiltarov needs to post a win against someone with a substantial winning record. Brum fits that bill. He also happens to be weakest in the area where Abiltarov is strongest. The British fighter is going to have a difficult time keeping this fight standing. If Abiltarov can drag Brum to the mat, the Ukrainian grappler has the skills to force a tapout.

Other key bouts: Ivan Buchinger (22-4) vs. Jamal Magomedov (5-1), Pavel Kusch (13-4) vs. Chris Scott (6-2), Ion Cutelaba (4-0) vs. Michal Andryszak (9-3), Matt Inman (11-5) vs. Eldar Eldarov (5-1), Mohsen Bahari (5-1) vs. Alexander Voitenko (9-3), Alex Enlund (7-2) vs. Sebastian Romanowski (7-1), Akhad Mamedov (4-1) vs. Liam James (7-5)

Photo: Rodolfo Marques Diniz (R) (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)