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…

Cage Fury Fighting Championships 30

Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pa.
Event Date: Nov. 2
Website: cffc.tv
Watch Event: live pay-per-view stream at GoFightLive
Twitter: @RobHaydak (CFFC President) and @CFFCariasgarcia (General Manager)

Spotlight Fight:
Aljamain Sterling (7-0) vs. Joel Roberts (8-4)

Sometimes, two is better than one. That’s the philosophy of Cage Fury Fighting Championships this coming weekend. After it hosts its 29th event on Nov. 1, the promotion turns around on Nov. 2 with its 30th show. The headliner for that second event of the weekend features the return of bantamweight prospect Aljamain Sterling. The undefeated Serra-Longo fighter puts his Cage Fury bantamweight title on the line against 12-fight veteran Joel Roberts.

A torn labrum has kept Sterling sidelined since an August 2012 victory Sidemar Honorio. Sterling was a two-time NCAA Division III All-American as a college wrestler and has been an assistant coach at SUNY Cortland, the same school where he competed. Early in his college career, Sterling gave MMA a try at the suggestion of Jon Jones, who Sterling met when both attended Morrisville State College. Jones invited Sterling to come to the Team Bombsquad gym, and from there, Sterling went on to fight in the amateur ranks a few times before turning pro in 2011 and reeling off seven straight wins, including decisions over Claudio Ledesma and Sean Santella. The 24-year-old now calls the Serra-Longo Fight Team home. Sterling has three submission wins, all via rear-naked choke, and one TKO victory. His remaining three fights have gone the distance.

Roberts trains with Rat Pack Fighting Systems. The 31-year-old has a background in wrestling and has used his skills to notch six submission wins. He previously competed as a featherweight, capturing the PA Cage Fight featherweight crown with a 2011 submission win over the now 16-4 Scott Heckman. Roberts also fought under the Bellator banner in 2011, picking up a submission win against Brylan Van Artsdalen. In his pro career, which kicked off in 2009, Roberts has suffered TKO losses to Noe Quintanilla and UFC veteran Dustin Pague and fell via decision against Bellator vets Kenny Foster and Jimmie Rivera. He also lost via knockout at the amateur level against current UFC fighter Myles Jury.

Both of these men are wrestlers first and foremost, but that’s where their skill sets and histories start to diverge. Roberts was a high school wrestler, whereas Sterling was an All-American in college. Sterling trains with a top camp, wheres Roberts is currently working out of a smaller gym that doesn’t boast an array of UFC talents. Sterling is undefeated as a pro, whereas Roberts has already dropped four out of 12 fights, albeit to significant competition. The point here is that, outside of submissions, everything that Roberts does, Sterling has demonstrated he can do better. Even the submission and grappling edge could arguably go to Sterling, simply because one of his coaches is former UFC champ and skilled grappler Matt Serra.

Roberts is going to have to hope that he either rattles Sterling on the feet and can follow up with a submission or that Sterling falls into that group of wrestlers that can get fights to the mat with ease but leave themselves wide open to armbars or chokes. Sterling has already had seven tests and hasn’t demonstrated any such vulnerability in his game.

Roberts is certainly a threat to Sterling, so the undefeated fighter will take a conservative approach that utilizes takedowns and top control. He’ll look to avoid getting into bad positions and will stick to ground-and-pound and low-risk submission attempts. Sterling will win this fight to extend his streak, but he’ll have to settle for a victory on the scorecards.

Other key bouts: Darrell Horcher (7-1) vs. Mike Medrano (11-10), Travis Wynn (4-1) vs. Chris Rodriguez (2-0)

Pancrase 253

Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: Nov. 3
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Shingo Suzuki (9-6-3) vs. Thiago Goncalves (16-3)

The theme of Pancrase’s 253rd numbered offering centers on Brazil’s Team Nogueira. The promotion has paired Nogueira fighter Mauricio Reis against Akira Okada in the co-headliner, but the true focus is on the main event match-up between Team Nogueira welterweight and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 alum Thiago “Jambo” Goncalves and his Japanese counterpart, Alliance-Square product Shingo Suzuki.

Jambo is less than three months removed from his first official bout since 2011, though he fought twice in exhibition contests during the course of the UFC’s reality show. Goncalves’ August return resulted in a second-round TKO victory over Alexandre Barros. The win brings Goncalves’ record to an impressive 16-3 mark, including a 14-1 stretch over his last 15 fights (there was a no-contest in the middle of that run where Jambo and his opponent fell out of the ring). The Brazilian has seen the judges’ scorecards in 13 of his 19 outings, but he usually emerges with his hand raised. His two fights on TUF ended in losses, both coming against Viscardi Andrade (once to make it into the house and once after Goncalves returned to replace an injured Neilson Gomes). His TKO win over Barros marked his first stoppage victory since 2005. He holds a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but his stand-up skills are solid as well. His losses have comes against UFC vets Nick Thompson and Luigi Fioravanti and prospect Cory MacDonald.

Oddly, Jambo’s adversary, Suzuki, goes against the typical trend of Japanese fighters in terms of going the distance. He’s only heard the final bell in five of 18 fights, with one victory, one defeat and three draws in those fights. He tends to fight in a reckless manner that either earns him a finish (four via some form of knockout, four by way of submission) or costs him (one knockout loss, two TKO defeats and two submissions). The 27-year-old stands 5-foot-8 and will give up three inches in height to the taller Goncalves. Suzuki challenged for the welterweight King of Pancrase title in May, but succumbed to a keylock in the third round against champion Takenori Sato. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak that included victories over veterans Kenta Takagi, Eiji Ishikawa and Sojiro Orui.

Goncalves trains with an elite camp that features the Nogueira brothers and Anderson Silva. His current four-fight winning streak contains victories over Ishikawa and Daniel Aspe, but he barely escaped with the win against Claudio Cezario, whose record now sits at 3-2. Furthermore, his two losses to Andrade actually leave him with a 1-2 mark in his three most recent outings, official or exhibition. He’s also seen a number of razor-close decisions in his career. He barely edged out not only the 3-2 Cezario, but also the now 8-8 Vagner Curio and 2-3 Braden Workman.

Suzuki’s go-for-the-finish approach could be both a good and a bad thing against Goncalves. On the one hand, the Japanese fighter’s style gives him a chance to either stop or outpoint an opponent who doesn’t show the same sense of urgency to end fights. When Goncalves fights, fans are almost assured a fight that goes the distance. But just as much as Suzuki will have the opportunity to score the finish, he might be reckless enough to give Goncalves an opportunity to capitalize on a mistake and post a second consecutive stoppage.

Goncalves’ disciplined approach should give him the upper hand in this fight. The former middleweight should enjoy an advantage on the feet, where he’ll use his boxing and Muay Thai skills to get the best of Suzuki. On the ground, Suzuki will threaten with submissions, but he’ll be doing so against a talented BJJ black belt who should have no problem defending against the attacks. Goncalves will use Suzuki’s overzealous nature against him and score the TKO victory.

Other key bouts: Yuki Kondo (55-28-8) vs. Eric Michael Fought (6-1-1), Mauricio Reis (16-8) vs. Akira Okada (6-3-2), Masato Sannai (9-3-1) vs. Yo Saito (12-8-3), Masatatsu Ueda (2-0) vs. Yuki Yasunaga (9-8), Nobuki Fujii (9-3-3) vs. Shoko Sato (18-13-2), Ben Buchan (4-1) vs. Shigenobu Takahashi (8-5-3)

Deep Jewels 2

Shinjuku Face in Tokyo
Event Date: Nov. 4
Website: deep2001.com
Twitter: @DEEP_JEWELS

Spotlight Fight:
Seo Hee Ham (11-5) vs. Sadae Numata (5-1-1)

When Deep absorbed the all-female Jewels promotion and hosted the first Jewels show under its own Deep banner, one of the most significant fights on the card pitted Sadae Numata against Celine Haga in what was dubbed as a featherweight (106-pound) title eliminator. Numata managed to edge out Haga in a close split decision to earn her crack at the gold. That gold happens to be held by Seo Hee Ham, a former strawweight who unseated Naho Sugiyama as the champion a few months before Numata laid claim to the top contender spot. Now, Ham puts her title on the line against Numata at the second Jewels event under Deep management.

Ham is a Korean kickboxer who earned the nickname of “Hamderlei Silva” for the resemblance between her fighting style and that of Pride and UFC legend Wanderlei Silva. Ham captured the CMA KPW lightweight championship and is 6-1 with three knockouts as a kickboxer. Despite her kickboxing background, she has never scored a knockout win in her 16-fight MMA career. She has gone the distance on 12 occasions, with 10 of those verdicts going in her favor. The 26-year-old’s only stoppage victory came via submission. Ham has a lengthy list of notable names on her resume. She has twice lost to Ayaka Hamasaki, including once via a corner-stoppage TKO. She has also lost versus Miku Matsumoto, Yuka Tsuji and Megumi Fujii and has notched wins over Saori Ishioka (twice), Mika Nagano and Mei Yamaguchi.

Numata earned the nickname of “Manhoef” from her kickboxing background, but it’s her ground game that has brought her the most success in her MMA career. The 41-year-old has two submission victories and just one TKO to her credit. Training out of Cobra Kai MMA Dojo in Japan, Numata posted a pedestrian 1-1-1 mark through three outings, but she’s now on a four-fight winning streak. Numata launched her pro campaign in 2009, but didn’t maintain a consistent MMA fight schedule until 2011, when she made her sophomore appearance. She has gone the distance against her three most accomplished foes, Haga, Sachiko Yamamoto and Tomomi Sunaba. One of those fights ended in a loss and the most recent, against Haga, barely went her way. Numata isn’t getting any younger, and age could play a factor in the outcome of her fights.

In a battle of two ladies that sport nicknames of knockout artists Wanderlei Silva and Melvin Manhoef and boast kickboxing backgrounds, you’d expect to see a history of highlight-reel finishes on the feet. That’s not the case here, though. The two have combined for just one TKO win in a combined 23 fights.

Numata has used powerful submissions in combination with her effective striking, but she’s still relatively inexperienced. Furthermore, she’s in her 40s and hasn’t been as adept at finishing the higher-level competition she has faced. Ham, meanwhile, has only lost to the very best in her career across the strawweight and atomweight divisions, and has even topped a few of those elite competitors. Ham’s experience within the upper echelon of the division gives her a significant edge. In what could be a back-and-forth battle, Ham will earn the nod from the judges to successfully defend her crown.

Other key bouts: Mizuki Inoue (6-1) vs. Emi Fujino (13-6) in a Jewels lightweight (115-pound) grand prix bout, Mika Nagano (14-8) vs. Emi Tomimatsu (5-7) in a Jewels lightweight (115-pound) grand prix bout, Naho Sugiyama (8-3) vs. Masako Yoshida (17-18-5), Megumi Sugimoto (1-0) vs. Sachiko Fujimori (1-0)

Photo: Seo Hee Ham (L) (Taro Irei/Sherdog)