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 Warriors Fighting Championship: Fight Night 10

King Hussein Youth City Boxing Arena in Amman, Jordan
Event Date: March 28
Website: cagewarriors.com
Watch Event:
Fight Now TV (USA)
Premier Sports (United Kingdom)
Setanta Sports 1 (Ireland)
Fight Network (Canada, Portugal, Turkey, Angola)
Fight Klub (Poland)
Setanta Action (Africa)
ESPN International (Brazil, Latin America, Pacific Rim)
Viasat (Scandinavia)
MMA Junkie (USA/Canada)
Sportube.tv (Italy)
JOE.ie (Ireland)
cagewarriors.tv (rest of the world, excluding the United Kingdom)
Twitter: @CageWarriors

Spotlight Fight:
Jack Marshman (14-4) vs. Abu Azaitar (8-2)

The high frequency of Cage Warriors cards continues this weekend when the British promotion heads to Amman, Jordan, for the 10th edition of its “Fight Night” series. Middleweights Jack Marshman and Abu Azaitar headline the card. Both fighters are making their promotional debuts.

Marshman, who hails from Wales, holds the more recognizable name in the eyes of most fight fans. The 24-year-old is a former BAMMA Lonsdale middleweight champion who tends to win fights with his fists. He has 10 victories by some form of knockout and just two via submission and two by way of decision. The British paratrooper fights out of Tillery Combat MMA Academy and has trained in jiu-jitsu since the age of 15. He is known more for his striking, however, and has competed as a boxer in between MMA fights. Marshman’s overall record is strong, but he is just 4-4 over his last eight fights. Those losses include a TKO defeat handed to him by Tom “Kong” Watson and a knockout courtesy of Ion Pascu. His three most recent wins have come against fighters at or below the .500 mark.

Azaitar is coming off a win over former KSW champion Krzysztof Kulak which moved the German-Moroccan fighter’s winning streak up to three fights. He has lost twice, but one of the losses was a disqualification, due to an eye gouge, in his 2009 pro debut. The other loss was a TKO, but the stoppage was due to a cut. In the win column, the Jupps Fight Team product has tallied five (T)KOs, one submission and two decisions. Among those wins, he avenged his TKO loss. The 28-year-old turned to MMA after a troubled youth that included a stint in prison.

Had it not been for a cut and an eye gouge, Azaitar would be undefeated right now. Furthermore, he has been defeating veterans and prospects who sport winning records while Marshman has experienced a turbulent stretch in his career. That makes for a dangerous recipe for the Welsh fighter. Both men like to hunt for the knockout, but Marshman has not had the most reliable chin. Azaitar will test that chin and benefit in the form of a knockout win.

Other key bouts: Allan Love (11-4) vs. Norman Paraisy (13-3-2), Marcin Lasota (7-0) vs. Paul Marin (7-3), Dave Hill (11-3) vs. Sam Gilbert (9-3)

Pancrase 257

Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium in Yokohama, Japan
Event Date: March 30
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Isao Kobayashi (14-1-4) vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka (22-8)

When Isao Kobayashi and Kuniyoshi Hironaka square off this weekend, they will be among the last fighters to compete in the Pancrase ring. No, the promotion is not closing its doors for good. Instead, it’s packing up the ring and opting for a cage for all future events. What better way to usher out the ring than to pit a King of Pancrase against a Shooto champion?

Kobayashi is the lightweight King of Pancrase. The southpaw has a background in judo, but he tends to finish fights via knockout. The 25-year-old has captured a Neo-Blood tournament championship in addition to the King of Pancrase crown he now holds. The Sakaguchi Dojo product made his pro debut in 2008 and went undefeated with six wins and two draws through his first eight fights. His lone career loss came in a 2010 encounter with Koji Oishi, and Kobayashi has since avenged the loss (and claimed the title in the process). Since the loss, the Japanese prospect has won eight fights and fought to a draw on two occasions. His two most recent fights, in which he fought Jorge Patino and Yoshiaki Takahashi, went the distance. He fought to a draw with Patino and emerged victorious in his title defense against Takahashi.

The 37-year-old Hironaka is an UFC veteran who has also competed under the Dream banner. The Academia Az product competed inside the Octagon from 2006 through 2008, but he went a disappointing 1-3. Hironaka’s one win in that span came against Forrest Petz, and he lost to Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves and Jonathan Goulet. Although he holds wins over Nick Diaz and Carlo Prater, Hironaka’s resume displays a trend in which the Japanese fighter falters against top-level competition. The judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has seven wins by some form of knockout, seven victories via submission and eight wins on the scorecards. Meanwhile, five of his eight losses have come by way of knockout or TKO. Hironaka is on a six-fight winning streak.

Hironaka’s chin is a troubling factor in this fight. Kobayashi is content to stand and brawl, which could spell bad news for Hironaka. The outcome of this contest is dictated by where it takes place. Hironaka must use his judo to get the fight to the mat, where he can utilize his grappling skills to submit Kobayashi. The Pancrase champ, meanwhile, needs to keep the fight standing and look for the knockout blow.

It would be easy to say that Hironaka is an aging veteran who has no shot at victory, but that’s far from the truth. The UFC veteran has actually posted some of his most impressive victories in his current streak. He also survived against strikers Kotetsu Boku and Kiyonobu Nishikata. If anything, Kobayashi may be facing the greater risk. He has a tendency to fight recklessly, and he was really pushed by Patino and Takahashi, who even took Kobayashi’s back in the final round of their fight.

Kobayashi’s striking will make him a lethal threat to Hironaka, and perhaps a reckless, aggressive approach could even be the best route to victory for the young prospect. If he can charge in and connect with Hironaka’s chin, it will be game over. However, Hironaka’s experience, skill set and recent string of success suggests that if he can weather any initial storm, then he should be able to either submit Kobayashi or outwork him to earn the decision.

Other key bouts: Kiyotaka Shimizu (13-9-3) vs. Atsushi Yamamoto (17-7-3) for the flyweight King of Pancrase championship, Thiago Goncalves (17-3) vs. Akihiro Murayama (14-5-9), Leandro Silva (13-1-1) vs. Yoshiaki Takahashi (10-4-2), Taichi Nakajima (8-3-1) vs. Marcio Cesar (18-8-3) in a World Slam Tournament semifinal bout, Yoichiro Sato (13-5-2) vs. Eiji Ishikawa (26-18-3), Guy Delumeau (18-8-3) vs. Yuki Baba (10-4), Yuki Kondo (56-28-9) vs. Masayuki Naruse (6-13)

MMA Super Heroes 3

Via Marques in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: March 30
Website: mmasuperheroes.com
Twitter: @mmasuperheroes

Spotlight Fight:
Kalindra Faria (13-3-1) vs. Laura Balin (4-1)

When Kalindra Faria straps on the four-ounce gloves on March 30 for her MMA Super Heroes strawweight contest against Laura Balin, she will be a mere two weeks removed from her last fight. That affair came under the XFC International banner and resulted in a win for Faria over fellow former flyweight Aline Serio. Now, Faria continues her campaign towards a UFC bid in the 115-pound division.

Faria battled her way to a unanimous decision victory against Serio to nudge her win total to 13. Since her pro debut in 2009, Faria has suffered just three losses, but her defeats came against high-level competition. She suffered a TKO at the hands of Carina Damm and succumbed to submissions against Invicta veteran Vanessa Porto and upcoming The Ultimate Fighter 20 cast member Claudia Gadelha. Faria avenged the loss to Damm with a submission win in their rematch in early 2013, and she has fought to a draw with Invicta veteran Jennifer Maia. After a 4-3-1 start to her career, the Vale Top Team and Macaco Gold Team product has compiled a nine-fight winning streak that includes the victory over Damm and the two wins against Serio. The 27-year-old has a Muay Thai background and has won six of her MMA contests via strikes. She has also recorded three recent submission wins, all by way of armbar.

Balin is a prospect who hails from Argentina. She launched her pro career in 2012 and shot out to an undefeated start through her first four fights. Then she ran into Vanessa Guimaraes, a fighter who now stands with a .500 record through four pro fights. Guimaraes handed Balin a unanimous decision defeat. The Kaeshi Gym Concordia product works well in the clinch and has good top control on the ground. She has won two fights via TKO and one by way of submission. Her wins, however, come against fighters with a combined 2-6 mark, including two fighters whose only pro fights were against Balin and one fighter who now stands at 0-3.

Balin has looked good against low-level competition, but she emerged on the wrong end of a decision against Guimaraes. Faria is a huge step up from Guimaraes or anyone else Balin has seen in her career. Faria’s striking should allow her to control the stand-up portions of the fight, and she has the submission ability to end the bout on the mat as well. This is really a showcase fight for Faria, who should emerge with a first-round stoppage win.

Other key bouts: Thomas de Almeida (15-0) vs. Vinicius Zani (7-3) for the bantamweight title, Herica Tiburcio (7-2) vs. Aline Sattelmayer (5-4)