Every Thursday, The MMA Corner will take a look at three regional, developmental 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, developmental 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…

Tech-Krep Fighting Championship: Prime Crimea

Ice Palace in Simferopol, Russia
Event Date: May 23
Website: techkrepfc.com
Twitter: @TechkrepFC

Spotlight Fight:
Roy Boughton (10-3) vs. Denis Goltsov (10-4)

Not long ago, most fight fans would have had little to no knowledge of Crimea. Now, though, with Russian hostilities increasing in the region, Crimea has been at the center of global attention. If you don’t know where Crimea is by now, you’ve been living under a rock. Now, fight fans have another reason to cast their eyes in the direction of the conflicted territory. Tech-Krep Fighting Championship is headed to Simferopol for an event that features Roy Boughton and Denis Goltsov, a pair of heavyweight prospects.

Boughton, who made his pro debut in 2010, has made one appearance in the Bellator cage, where he suffered a submission loss to the promotion’s current reigning light heavyweight champ, Emanuel Newton. The loss was the third on the Cesar Gracie product’s record, joining unanimous decision defeats at the hands of Sang Soo Lee and UFC veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. “Black Dynamite” has scored a decision victory over Murilo “Ninja” Rua. He tends to seek takedowns and work for submissions. Boughton has won three fights by some form of knockout and five via submission. He has bounced back from the loss to Newton to score two first-round victories. Boughton is now 5-1 through his last six outings.

Boughton’s 23-year-old opponent, Denis Goltsov, also debuted in 2010, but his career took a rocky path in its initial stages. After two wins under the M-1 Global banner, the Sambo Piter fighter won just one of his next four fights. His final loss in that stretch came via in a bout against future Bellator champion Alexander Volkov. Goltsov has rebounded nicely from his 2011 loss to Volkov, and he is now 7-1 through his last eight fights. Despite strong takedowns skills, the Russian has picked five wins by some form of knockout and only four victories via submission. His weakness comes on the mat, where he has been submitted on three occasions.

The glaring hole in Goltsov’s game plays right into the strength of his opponent’s arsenal. Boughton is a Cesar Gracie-trained submission specialist who has demonstrated a high level of grappling skill in his previous fights. The “Team Black” fighter has struggled almost every time he has taken a step up in competition. He did defeat Rua, but Rua was a middleweight whose loss to Boughton marked the beginning of a three-fight slide into retirement. The combined record of Boughton’s remaining opponents now stands at 27-28, and only Misha Cirkunov has a substantial winning mark. Goltsov, meanwhile, has been racking up wins against experienced fighters with records above the .500 mark.

The Russian will enjoy a five-inch height advantage over his American foe, but Goltsov has hardly demonstrated a knack for making use of that reach. He leans forward to throw strikes and lets opponents get inside for the clinch. He can be effective with takedowns, but his positional control isn’t always superb, and he even ended up on bottom—and mounted—by Volkov, a striker whose ground game is not a large asset.

Boughton’s prowess on the mat makes him a very dangerous undertaking for Goltsov. The Russian won’t be able to keep Boughton at the end of his punches, and therefore he’ll have to find ways to be effective from his back. Boughton won’t allow him to produce much offense from the position, however. Goltsov’s vulnerability to submissions will be his ultimate undoing. Boughton should find the early submission to claim victory in this affair.

Other key bouts: Maxim Grishin (17-6) vs. Joaquim Ferreira (16-8)

Made 4 the Cage 14: Addicted

Rainton Meadows Arena in Houghton-Le-Spring, Sunderland, England
Event Date: May 24
Website: made4thecage.co.uk
Watch Event: live stream on made4thecage.co.uk
Twitter: @MADE4THECAGEUK

Spotlight Fight:
James Mulheron (5-0) vs. Neil Wain (13-3)

Made 4 the Cage may not carry the same name recognition as fellow British promotions Cage Warriors and BAMMA, nor does it have quite as long of a list of events under its belt, but it has managed to gather together a strong set of prospects. One of its brightest up-and-comers is James Mulheron, who reigns as the promotion’s British heavyweight champion. Mulheron is set to put his title on the line against UFC veteran Neil Wain in the headlining contest of the promotion’s 14th offering.

Mulheron, who went 6-0 as an amateur, made his pro debut in 2012 and captured the M4tC crown in only his sophomore appearance. He has made three successful defenses of his crown thus far, and each challenge came against tougher competition. He worked to a unanimous decision against Darren Towler, scored a second-round TKO against Martin Thompson and, most recently, topped Stav Economou on the scorecards. The British fighter is a striker who has scored three victories by some form of knockout.

Wain had the misfortune of making his Octagon debut opposite Shane Carwin, who was making his second UFC appearance. The fight only lasted 91 seconds and the end results for Wain was a TKO loss and a pink slip. Wain, who made his pro debut in 2006, entered the 2008 bout with Carwin as a 5-0 prospect who had scored all of his wins by first-round knockout or TKO. After the loss to Carwin, he fell via submission to Rob Broughton in his next outing. Wain has gone 8-1 since that two-fight slide, but this will mark the first time since 2010 in which Wain competes in multiple fights within a calendar year. He has nine wins by some form of knockout.

Mixed martial arts fans who prefer to watch heavyweights hunt for the knockout should be in for a treat. Mulheron and Wain are perfectly willing to test each other’s chin. This marks the perfect next step for Mulheron after his victory over Economou. The champ has claimed he wants the toughest fights, and this certainly stands to prove a lot about his striking skills.

Wain has the experience, but he hasn’t exactly been the active competitor that he was when he landed inside the Octagon. Mulheron, meanwhile, has been clearing each hurdle put in front of him. His stretch of wins spans only the last two years, but his amateur experience extends an addition two-plus years. He’s ready to step up against Wain. Mulheron will score the TKO victory and move one step closer to a UFC debut of his own.

Other key bouts: Craig Turner (6-0) vs. Alan Johnston (6-2-1) for the British welterweight title

Tribe Tokyo Fight: TTF Challenge 01

Shinjuku Face in Tokyo
Event Date: May 25
Website: ttfight.com
Watch Event: UStream
Twitter: @TRIBETOKYOMMA

Spotlight Fight:
Yasutaka Koga (9-1-1) vs. Yuya Shibata (8-2)

After Ryo Chonan defeated Dan Hornbuckle in October 2013 and then retired as the Deep welterweight champion, he turned his focus to Tribe Tokyo MMA, the gym he owns and operates. The gym lent its name to the Deep show on which Chonan fought, and it is now attaching its name to a fight card that features two intriguing flyweights at the top of the bill. Those 125-pound prospects are Lotus Setagaya’s Yasutaka Koga and Style’s Yuya Shibata.

Shibata, the Style product, is just 22 years old, but he has been fighting professionally since 2011 and has just one less fight on his resume than his older opponent. The 2011 Shooto 123-pound Rookie Tournament champion remained undefeated through his first four fights before running into top flyweight Ryuichi Miki, who handed him a unanimous decision loss. “Monkey” departed Shooto following the defeat and, after a victory on a smaller show, made his way to Deep, where he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the promotion’s flyweight championship against Yuki Motoya. The grappler, who has claimed five of his victories by way of submission, has bounced back with wins in his two most recent outings.

The 28-year-old Koga has only been active since 2012, but he already has 11 fights under his belt. The striker made his pro debut with a submission victory in the Pancrase ring. He went on to score four more victories before meeting Dream veteran Atsushi Yamamoto, whose striking and persistent takedown attempts were enough to top Koga on the scorecards. Koga has not lost since, with four more wins and a draw. He has three wins by some form of knockout and one via submission.

Despite the loss to Yamamoto and a draw against Isao Hirose, Koga has a strong resume. Shibata has seen action against Miki and Motoya, but his win column is primarily littered with names who lack the experience and winning marks of Koga’s victims. He has been able to wrap those fighters in submissions, but he struggled to stay off his back against the likes of Miki. Shibata also ate quite a few punches in the Miki fight. Miki isn’t much of a finisher with his strikes, but Koga has the power to lay opponents out.

The outcome of this contest hinges on Shibata’s ability to score takedowns. If Koga’s striking is neutralized, then Shibata can work for submissions or simply score points with the judges. However, if Shibata allows Koga to sprint out of the gates with a flurry of strikes, as Yuki Yasunaga did in his 36-second drubbing against Koga, then this could end with a knockout victory for the Lotus representative.

Koga’s accuracy with powerful strikes should be a great weapon against Shibata. Shibata’s boxing guard isn’t the best, and that’s going to cost him severely against Koga. Koga will hand Shibata the first stoppage loss of his career.

Other key bouts: Yusaku Tsukumo (11-5-3) vs. Toshikazu Suzuki (7-1-1), Kimihiro Eto (4-0) vs. Yusuke Hashimoto (0-0)