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 13

Pershing Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Event Date: March 7
Website: rfafighting.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @RFAfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Luke Sanders (6-0) vs. Dan Moret (6-0)

The Resurrection Fighting Alliance has evolved into a premier feeder league for the UFC. The promotion hosts a ton of talent at the prospect level, while also providing opportunities to climb back to the big show for veterans like RFA 13 headliners Dakota Cochrane and Efrain Escudero. Among the prospects at the promotion’s 13th offering, undefeated featherweights Luke Sanders and Dan Moret have the most potential.

Sanders has a background in wrestling that includes a high school state championship in his native Tennessee. The Nashville MMA product has primarily used his fists to end fights. He does have a submission finish and a split decision on his resume, but there are also three first-round TKO wins and a second-round TKO against Zach Underwood, the toughest challenge thus far in his career. After more than a year away from action, Sanders returned in July 2013 to edge Javon Wright by way of a split decision and reemerged with XFC in October with his win against Underwood. The 28-year-old made his pro debut with Strikeforce in 2011 and has fought twice under the XFC banner.

Moret fights out of the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. “The Hitman” put together a strong campaign as an amateur before going pro in 2012. His first three professional fights ended before the two-minute mark, with two stoppages via strikes and one by way of submission. He went the distance in his next two contests, including a win over Jose Pacheco under the RFA banner. His last outing was a rematch with Pacheco that resulted in a submission victory for Moret. The 27-year-old has trained alongside the likes of Mike Richman and Jacob Volkmann. He has a background in high school wrestling.

Sanders loves to shoot for takedowns and utilize ground-and-pound to hammer his opponents into oblivion. In Moret, he’s meeting an opponent with a similar strategy. Moret does tend to sprinkle in more submissions, however, as evidenced by his extensive amateur resume that includes three wins by rear-naked choke and one via armbar to accompany four TKO stoppages.

Moret will enjoy a five-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-7 Sanders, which could come into play if these two wrestlers opt to stand and bang. Furthermore, the Minnesotan has competed as a lightweight in the past, so he could enter this fight as the all-around larger fighter. That may not be enough to save him from the onslaught that’s likely to come in a bout against Sanders. Moret has high school wrestling chops, but Sanders has high school state champion wrestling chops. Sanders will still look for the takedown, but he’ll need to be wary of Moret’s love for submissions.

This should be a close fight, and the winner might even spark the attention of the UFC. Though it could go either way, Sanders has the superior wrestling skills and the more extensive experience on a big stage. Those tools will guide him to a late TKO victory.

Other key bouts: Dakota Cochrane (15-5) vs. Efrain Escudero (21-7), Chidi Njokuani (10-4) vs. Chris Heatherly (7-1), Andrew Sanchez (4-0) vs. Miles Marshall (3-1), Ryan Shell (5-0) vs. T.J. Hepburn (2-0), Darrick Minner (7-3) vs. Austin Lyons (10-2)

Nitro MMA 11: Survival

Logan Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia
Event Date: March 8
Website: nitromma.com.au
Watch Event:
Twitter: @NitroMMA

Spotlight Fight:
Julian Rabaud (5-1) vs. Ben Nguyen (10-6)

Julian Rabaud is a name that may not resonate yet with the American MMA fan base, but his outspoken nature and heavily tattooed canvas of skin have quickly aided “Julz the Jackal” in becoming a well-known prospect on his home continent of Australia. Rabaud will put his Nitro MMA bantamweight title on the line against Ben Nguyen at the promotion’s 11th event.

A barber by trade, Rabaud started his pro career in 2010 and notched two submission wins and a TKO before running into Chris Morris. In a bout for the vacant Nitro bantamweight strap, Rabaud’s right arm ended up in an awkward position behind him as he was slammed to the canvas, resulting in a gruesomely broken arm. Rabaud was unable to continue, resulting in a TKO defeat, the lone loss of his career. The Empire Mixed Martial Arts product bounced back with a TKO victory, then avenged his loss to Morris by scoring a first-round TKO against the veteran fighter in their rematch.

Nguyen, who normally competes as a flyweight, will be the smaller and quicker fighter in this contest. He hails from Sioux Falls, S.D.. Nguyen has a background in taekwondo and trains out of Tiger Muay Thai. He made his pro MMA debut in 2003 with a decision loss, then returned to the sport a little over three years later to lose his sophomore effort. He won five in a row, then went 1-4 in his next five. Now, Nguyen is riding a four-fight winning streak. He tends to win and lose on his feet, with six victories and four losses by some form of knockout. Among his losses, he was floored by Alexis Vila in a 2009 bout.

The theme of this fight is power versus speed. Nguyen has the speed, whereas Rabaud has the power. Nguyen’s list of losses is the most troublesome aspect of this match-up, though. He has failed to maintain much consistency in his career, and his chin has been a large question mark. He’s willing to stand and trade with opponents and offers a sloppy ground attack. Nguyen won’t be able to absorb many of Rabaud’s punches on the feet, and he’s going to find it difficult to take down Julz, who has excellent balance and takedown defense.

If Nguyen keeps moving and forces Rabaud to chase him, he could stay competitive in this bout. The minute he plants his feet to throw combinations, that edge is gone. Rabaud might be tempted to stand with Nguyen, but his most effective offense could come if he uses his strength to put Nguyen on the mat, where he can then rain down the ground-and-pound until Nguyen’s chin fails him. Rabaud retains the title with a TKO win.

Other key bouts: Joe Muir (10-3) vs. Semir Celikovic (6-1), Corey Nelson (15-4-1) vs. Anton Zafir (5-1), Alex MacDonald (6-1) vs. Gokhan Turkyilmaz (10-10)

Provincial Fighting Championships 2: Fight Night

Western Fair Agriplex in London, Ontario, Canada
Event Date: March 8
Website: profc.ca
Twitter: @pfc_canada

Spotlight Fight:
Randa Markos (3-1) vs. Lynnell House (2-0)

With female strawweights preparing to grace the UFC’s Octagon later this year, every strawweight match-up, regardless of promotion, has gained an extra sense of importance. These fights not only go towards boosting the prospect’s chances at reaching the UFC, but also provide potential talent for Invicta FC to mine in its efforts to replenish its own depleted 115-pound ranks. When Randa Markos and Lynnell House collide in the headliner at the second offering from Canada’s Provincial Fighting Championships, they could be auditioning for both of those larger organizations.

Though Markos suffered a loss to Justine Kish earlier this year at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 12, she gained a lot of respect for her never-say-die toughness. She was outstruck by Kish, but went the full three rounds and even threatened with a late armbar. The 28-year-old went 7-2 as an amateur and made her pro debut in 2012 with an armbar win over Allanna Jones, who typically competes as a bantamweight and featherweight. She is an aggressive fighter whose biggest strengths lie in her wrestling and grappling. She has taken home multiple honors in no-gi competition and a bronze medal at the national level in wrestling.

House hails from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. House normally fights as a flyweight, but she’s headed to strawweight for this contest. As an amateur, she went 2-1 with a TKO victory and a submission loss. House made her pro debut in October 2013 and has scored two first-round finishes by some form of knockout. She has a background in boxing.

Kish exposed the weaknesses in Markos’ striking game. That could haunt the RFA veteran in this affair. If House can follow Kish’s blueprint, she could emerge with the victory. The more likely result is that Markos utilizes her wrestling and submission skills throughout the fight. House has fallen via submission as an amateur, and Markos will hand her the first defeat of her pro career when she latches onto one of House’s arms for the submission finish.

Other key bouts: Misha Cirkunov (6-1) vs. Martin Desilets (11-3), Alex Ricci (7-1) vs. Ryan Healy (23-13), Alexander Halkias (4-1) vs. Kyle Nelson (4-0)