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 11

1stBank Center in Denver
Event Date: Nov. 22
Website: rfafighting.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @RFAFighting

Spotlight Fight:
Zach Makovsky (15-4) vs. Matt Manzanares (6-1)

It seems like the flyweight division is finally coming into its own. With the UFC expanding its 125-pound roster and numerous bantamweights making the drop, the division is more compelling than ever. The Resurrection Fighting Alliance is getting in on the act with a flyweight title tilt featuring former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky and prospect Matt Manzanares.

Makovsky made his name known to the masses in the Bellator season-three bantamweight tournament, where he decisioned Nick Mamalis, Bryan Goldsby and Ed West en route to capturing gold. He then scored a TKO stoppage of Chad Robichaux and a submission of Ryan Roberts in non-title affairs before losing his strap to Eduardo Dantas via submission. In his final Bellator appearance, Makovsky dropped a split verdict to Anthony Leone. He then dropped to 125 pounds and edged Claudio Ledesma on the scorecards. Makovsky has wrestled since he was six years old, was a NCAA Division I wrestler and is a decorated grappler. He has gone the distance in eight of his victories and one of his losses, but he has also won six fights and lost three via submission.

Manzanares has battled injuries that have left him with just one fight over the last 12 months. The 27-year-old made his pro debut in 2011 and won four fights before suffering a submission loss against Aaron Ely in his RFA debut. His subsequent two RFA bouts, including his last fight in August, ended in stoppage victories. The Black Dragon Martial Arts fighter has never seen the scorecards as a pro, with four wins via strikes and two by way of submission. He has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a two-time Junior Olympian in boxing.

The loss Manzanares suffered versus Ely is just one red flag on his record. His amateur career featured a stretch in 2010 where he went 2-4, including three first-round stoppage losses. Manzanares has topped a couple of prospects in Steve Swanson and Cody Land, but Makovsky is still a significant step up in competition. The Wyoming native will want to keep this fight standing, but he also feels that he can submit Makovsky on the mat. That’s not going to happen. Instead, we’ll see the former Bellator champ score numerous takedowns and grind away at Manzanares. There could be a submission finish in this one, but Makovsky has a habit of working towards decision wins.

Other key bouts: Tyler Toner (14-5) vs. Raoni Barcelos (6-0), Andrew Sanchez (3-0) vs. Todd Meredith (4-2)

Talent MMA Circuit 5: Etapa Campinas 2013

Guarani Football Club Gymnasium in Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: Nov. 23
Website: Facebook/CircuitoTalentMMA
Twitter: @CircuitoTalent‎

Spotlight Fight:
Leandro “Buscapé” Silva (12-1-1) vs. Carlos Leal Miranda (4-0)

When fighters are climbing the ladder in regional organizations, there’s often a lingering questions of whether they are legitimate prospects or fighters who have benefitted from an uneven or hand-picked set of opponents. That question only seems to get magnified when the fighter is competing in international circuits such as Brazil, Europe or Russia. Leandro “Buscapé” Silva seemingly answered that question when he edged out Chris Wilson in March and signed on the dotted line to compete in the UFC in June. However, with a decision loss to Ildemar Alcantara in the Octagon, Silva is now back in Brazil seeking to reestablish himself. That task continues this weekend when he faces undefeated prospect Carlos Leal Miranda.

Silva is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who previously fought out of Chute Boxe and Macaco Gold Team, but is now with Team Nogueira. Silva made his UFC debut as a welterweight, but he now competes as a lightweight. Prior to his official appearance in the UFC, Silva lost to David Vieira by way of a unanimous decision in the qualifying round of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2. The 28-year-old has been working to develop a striking game that incorporates kicks and powerful crosses as a complement to his grappling attack. Although the UFC touted his striking in the lead-up to his promotional debut, Silva, who has never scored a victory via strikes, disappointed in his showing against the longer Alcantara. Buscapé’s strength still lies primarily in his grappling ability, which has led to eight of his victories. He favors the rear-naked choke when going for the finish.

Miranda started his pro career just over a year ago with a quick disqualification victory, then notched three additional wins. The Siam Star product’s best adversaries now sport records of 6-3 and 6-4, whereas the other two opponents he has faced were making their pro debuts. His most recent outing ended in a knockout victory.

After the losses to Vieira and Alcantara, Silva had seemingly found his ceiling at welterweight, so now he’s at lightweight, seeking a new route back to the big show. In Leal, he gets an undefeated opponent, but one who is largely untested. Silva could test his striking against Leal, but the wise move would be to get this fight to the mat and utilize his high-level grappling skills to end the fight. Silva may not be able to overcome UFC-caliber opponents at this stage of his career, but he can—and will—certainly feast on inexperienced foes like Leal.

Other key bouts: Ricardo Lucas Ramos (3-0) vs. Lucas Mascena (1-1), Herica Tiburcio (6-2) vs. Chayen Aline Gaspar (1-0), Everton Ferreira (2-0) vs. Luis Alexandre “Turquinho” Funari (3-0), Bruno Ferreira da Silva (2-0) vs. Edson Lourenco (4-0)

Xtreme Knockout 20

The Gym in Arlington, Texas
Event Date: Nov. 23
Website: thegym.org
Twitter: @CombativeSports

Spotlight Fight:
Lacey Schuckman (9-6) vs. Amber Stautzenberger (3-1)

In March, Amber Stautzenberger took part in the first-ever female fight under the Xtreme Knockout banner. Now, she returns for her most important fight to date. The reason for its importance lies in her opponent, Lacey Schuckman. Schuckman represents a rather large leap in the level of opposition for Stautzenberger in her professional career, and a win in this encounter could land “The Apex Predator” on the radar of some bigger promotions.

Stautzenberger’s first fight with XKO was her third pro fight. She defeated Ashley Allen, a fighter making her pro debut, in that fight and went on to top Glena Avila under the Dakota FC banner in her most recent outing. Both of those victories came via unanimous decision, with her only stoppage win coming by way of a quick first-round armbar versus Summer Atherton, a fighter who still does not have a win through three pro bouts. Stautzenberger lost her pro debut, which came in September 2012, via unanimous decision to Paige VanZant and also dropped a decision to Tecia Torres in amateur competition. The Texan fighter trains out of Mohler Jiu-Jitsu and has taken first place in several no-gi grappling competitions, including the 2009 Texas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships and a 2009 NAGA event. The 26-year-old has competed at strawweight in the past, but this bout will be contested at a catchweight of 119 pounds.

Schuckman’s 9-6 mark suggests that she’s an average, at best, journeywoman fighter. That’s not the case, however. “The Ladie” has competed as a flyweight, strawweight and atomweight, but it’s the 105-pound weight class where she has shown the most promise in pushing future Invicta champ Michelle Waterson the distance in a split decision loss at Invicta FC 3. Beyond Waterson, Schuckman has also tasted defeat at the hands of such notable names as Ayaka Hamasaki, Patricia Vidonic, Carla Esparza and Jeri Sitzes. The BJJ purple belt’s most notable win came in a 2011 fight with Diana Rael in which Schuckman cinched up a rear-naked choke for the first-round submission win.

Schuckman may not always win, but she’s a tough fighter with a lot of heart and the ability to push fights into the later rounds. She has been stopped in most of her losses, but she lasted until the third stanza against Hamasaki, Vidonic and Sitzes and the second round against Esparza. The 25-year-old has five submission wins and just one victory via TKO.

Schuckman has experience working in her favor, but size working against her. She really belongs at atomweight, but here she’ll be fighting more than a weight class higher. However, Stautzenberger has not demonstrated an ability to come out on top against tough opposition, as proven in her amateur loss to Torres and her pro defeat against VanZant, and could find herself in over her head against the vet.

Schuckman accepted this fight on just two weeks’ notice and at a 119-pound catchweight, but she has the veteran edge and a proven track record, even at 125 pounds. She’ll grind away at Stautzenberger and threaten with submissions. If she doesn’t get the tap, she’ll still find a way to win on the scorecards.

Photo: Lacey Schuckman (top) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)