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…

Resurrection Fighting Alliance 10

Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines, Iowa
Event Date: Oct. 25
Website: rfafighting.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @RFAFighting

Spotlight Fight:
Mike Rhodes (5-1) vs. Alan Jouban (7-1)

Resurrection Fighting Alliance continues to play its part in the building of significant prospects on the regional scene. In its 10th offering, the promotions pits two of these prospects, Mike Rhodes and Alan Jouban, against each other with the welterweight championship on the line.

Jouban’s entry into the mixed martial arts world has an odd backstory. In his other life, he is a model. But that career led to his relocation in Los Angeles, where he found a gym and discovered Muay Thai. Jouban, now in his early 30s, made his professional MMA debut in 2011 with a 15-second knockout win, but lost his sophomore outing to Chidi Njokuani by way of a knockout. He bounced back with six straight wins, including three first-round finishes and a third-round TKO of UFC and Strikeforce veteran Chris Spang. The Legends MMA fighter has finished six opponents via strikes.

Rhodes trains out of the Roufusport camp in Milwaukee alongside UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Like his upcoming adversary, “Biggie” prefers to keep fights standing. He has brought an early end to the night for four of his opponents, three by some form of knockout and one via submission. Two of his stoppage wins came within the opening minute of the fight. Rhodes made his pro debut in 2012 and racked up four straight wins before encountering Brandon Thatch in the main event RFA 7. Thatch submitted Rhodes in less than two and a half minutes, but Rhodes has since rebounded with a 56-second TKO victory over Benjamin Smith at RFA 8.

If it’s a stand-up war that you want, look no further. Both of these men have ended fights in a hurry with their fists, and it wouldn’t be a big leap to think that this fight could find a similar result. Although Legends MMA has a number of significant names under its roof, it offers no comparison to the level of training partners that Roufusport can provide to Rhodes. In fact, the welterweight has said that Anthony Pettis has taken him under his wing. Having a UFC champ in one’s corner can only help matters. Jouban is a dangerous Muay Thai striker with knockout power, but he’ll struggle to overcome Rhodes. If this one doesn’t end in a first-round knockout for Rhodes, then look for him to test Jouban’s questionable gas tank before finishing the model-turned-fighter in the second or third stanza.

Other key bouts: Luis Saldana (7-1) vs. Justin Lawrence (4-2), John Case (12-4) vs. E.J. Brooks (7-1), Michael McBride (4-0) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (4-1)

Pacific Xtreme Combat 40

University of Guam Fieldhouse in Mangilao, Guam
Event Date: Oct. 25
Website: pacificxtremecombat.com
Watch Event: live stream on Facebook
Twitter: @PXCPhilippines

Spotlight Fight:
Mei Yamaguchi (11-5-1) vs. Patricia Vidonic (8-6)

When the top female fighters take to combat, it’s most often under the UFC, Invicta or top Japanese banners. Sometimes, though, other promotions dip their feet into the waters of women’s MMA. Pacific Xtreme Combat is one such promotion. In the promotion’s 40th offering, it has paired former top strawweight Mei Yamaguchi with veteran Patricia Vidonic.

The 30-year-old Yamaguchi was once considered a top 115-pound fighter, but she has fallen on hard times lately and resides on the outer edges of the strawweight top-10 rankings. Making her pro debut in 2007, “V.V” ran up a mark of 8-2-1 before meeting Seo Hee Ham in 2011. Ham handed her a two-round decision loss, and Yamaguchi has alternated wins and losses ever since. She topped Mika Nagano in her first fight after the loss to Ham, then lost to Katja Kankaanpaa, defeated Emi Tomimatsu, lost to Megumi Fujii and, most recently, stopped Seo Ye Jung via armbar. The Japanese fighter started training in karate at age seven and took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu while in college. She has competed in grappling and shoot boxing with limited success, but found plenty of success in mixed martial arts, where she was the final woman to hold the Valkyrie featherweight championship. Yamaguchi has submitted five opponents. Her other 12 fights have gone the distance, with six wins, five losses and a draw coming on the judges’ scorecards.

The 34-year-old Vidonic made her pro debut in 2010 with a unanimous decision loss to Valerie Coolbaugh. She rebounded with six straight wins, including a third-round submission of Lacey Schuckman. Then, just like Yamaguchi, she ran into some bumps in the road. She dropped back-to-back decisions to Jessica Aguilar and Felice Herrig, earned a decision win over Sally Krumdiack, lost decisions in rematches against Herrig and Aguilar, submitted Jessica Doerner and lost via submission to Alida Gray. In all, that adds up to a 2-5 mark since the beginning of 2012. Vidonic has four submission wins and one submission loss, but her other nine fights have gone the distance. The judges gave her the nod in four of those outings, and awarded the verdict to her opponent in the remaining five. Her rematches with Aguilar and Herrig came under the Bellator banner, and the fight with Aguilar was closely contested split decision.

This is a fight where both ladies are attempting to claw their way back up the rankings after recent battles with inconsistency. Each has faced a strong list of opposition, with Vidonic scoring her signature wins over Schuckman and Krumdiack and Yamaguchi taking hers over Saori Ishioka, Emi Fujino and Yuka Tsuji. They also tend to go the distance and keep fights close. Yamaguchi has four split decisions, a majority decision and a draw on her resume and engaged in close fights with Ham, Kankaanpaa and Fujii.

This will be Vidonic’s first time crossing the Pacific for a fight, but it will also be Yamaguchi’s first fight outside of Japan. Still, the trip requires less of a leap for Yamaguchi, who is still fighting relatively close to home in comparison to her foe.

These fighters are grinders who don’t succumb to finishes, but don’t dish out many either. Vidonic’s submission loss to Gray is concerning, especially since Yamaguchi’s strength comes in her grappling game. This fight could be a grueling fight that goes the distance with both fighters making a strong argument for the victory, but with the travel factored in, Vidonic will be more susceptible to Yamaguchi’s submission game. The Japanese fighter will finally put together another set of consecutive wins when she taps Vidonic midway through the fight.

Other key bouts: Kyle Aguon (6-3) vs. Michinori Tanaka (8-0) for the bantamweight title, Will Chope (18-5) vs. Takumi Nakayama (18-13)

Fight Nights: Battle of Moscow 13

Concert Hall Russia in Moscow
Event Date: Oct. 26
Website: fightnights.ru
Twitter: @Fnsofficial

Spotlight Fight:
Ruslan Magomedov (10-1) vs. Tim Sylvia (31-9)

When one thinks of Russia and MMA, the first things to come to mind are Fedor Emelianenko, of course, and the M-1 Global promotion. However, M-1 Global isn’t the only banner in the nation under which significant shows are taking place. The Fight Nights promotion is a strong, up-and-coming promotion that has done a fine job of combining veteran talent with prospects to create some intriguing lineups. For its 13th offering, the formula involves one heavyweight upstart and one former UFC heavyweight champion whose fall from grace has been of epic proportions. The prospect is Ruslan Magomedov and the disgraced former champ is Tim Sylvia.

Sylvia, who hails from Maine, trained extensively with Miletich Fighting Systems upon his entry into MMA. His championship reigns in the UFC helped to bolster the camp’s reputation among the elite teams in the world. When Randy Couture ended Sylvia’s second stint at the top of the UFC heavyweight mountain, the big man’s career took a nosedive. Sylvia rebounded from the loss to Couture with a win over Brandon Vera, then lost to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in an interim title bout, left the UFC for Affliction and was then destroyed by the aforementioned Emelianenko in just 36 seconds. That was just the start, however. A bloated Sylvia competed at super heavyweight in his next seven bouts and was embarrassed in just nine seconds by former pro boxer Ray Mercer in the first of those affairs. Sylvia did win his next four following the loss to Mercer, but then he lost to TUF alum Abe Wagner. He rebounded with three more wins before meeting another ex-UFC champ in Andrei Arlovski. The bout was eventually ruled a no-contest after some confusion about Arlovski’s use of soccer kicks to a downed opponent. In reality, though, many fans and pundits count the fight as another loss for Sylvia, who went on to lose his next two outings to Satoshi Ishii and Tony Johnson.

Whereas Sylvia is on the decline, his opponent is on the rise. Magomedov has suffered just one loss, a knockout courtesy of 38-fight veteran Konstantin Gluhov in Magomedov’s sixth pro fight, while claiming 10 victories. The Russian has already notched decision wins over former UFC champ Ricco Rodriguez, prospect Igor Zadernovsky and Bellator veteran Mike Hayes. The 26-year-old debuted in November 2010 and had three wins by year’s end, all via first-round stoppages. However, beginning with the fifth fight of his career, he has seen the second round in each of his contests and has gone the distance on four occasions (once in a two-round affair). Magomedov trains out of the Russian MMA Academy and has worked with Olympic wrestling champions from Dagestan. He has also trained with Greg Jackson. He has four wins by some form of knockout and two via submission.

Despite his attempts to lobby the UFC for another chance in the big show, Sylvia is no longer Octagon material. He has entered numerous bouts above the 265-pound heavyweight limit, including his last contest against Johnson, and has appeared bloated and out of shape. In his prime, Sylvia used a combination of wrestling and clinch work to score knockout and TKO victories. He’s no longer in his prime, though, and has essentially lost three straight fights.

Magomedov, meanwhile, appears to be a legitimate prospect. He was expected to fight in Bellator’s season-seven heavyweight tournament before visa issues nixed those plans and opened the door for eventual champ Alexander Volkov to take Magomedov’s place. In his victory over Rodriguez, which came in a fight the Russian took on just four days’ notice, Magomedov demonstrated excellent takedown defense and picked the ex-champ apart with a combination of punches and body kicks.

Sylvia will enjoy a four-inch height advantage over the 6-foot-4 Magomedov, but it isn’t likely that he can do much with it. Magomedov has the wrestling chops to stuff Sylvia’s takedowns, should there be any, and to take the champ down as well. The Russian also has the boxing and striking technique to edge Sylvia on the feet.

The real question in this fight has to do with the condition in which Sylvia is in when the opening bell rings. If he continues his recent trend of showing up in horrific shape, this fight could end early by way of knockout. If Sylvia is fit, however, he may force the Russian to work for the bout’s duration in order to secure the win. Either way, Magomedov exits this bout with another significant victory to add to his resume.

Other key bouts: Yasubey Enomoto (11-4) vs. Albert Tumenov (11-1), Maxim Grishin (15-6) vs. Mario Miranda (14-6), Ramil Mustapayev (0-0) vs. Andre Santos (35-9), Zubair Tuhugov (14-3) vs. Vaso Bakocevic (11-3-1) for European featherweight title, Oleg Borisov (7-1) vs. Pavel Svoboda (7-2)

Photo: Mike Rhodes (Paul Fladten/Sherdog)