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…

Resurrection Fighting Alliance 15

Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, Calif.
Event Date: June 6
Website: rfafighting.com
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @RFAfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Kevin Casey (7-3) vs. Andrew Sanchez (5-1)

The Resurrection Fighting Alliance has established itself as a developmental league that often provides a direct path to the UFC. Mostly, it helps to serve prospects on their way up, but it can also be a saving grace for a fighter who received a glimpse of the UFC life, only to face setbacks that sent him back to the drawing board. Such is the case for Kevin Casey, one half of the RFA 15 headliner. Opposite of Casey stands one of those young up-and-comers, Andrew Sanchez. Both men are eager to get their hands on RFA gold, but only one man can emerge as the promotion’s middleweight champion.

Casey’s taste of the big show came through a spot in the cast of The Ultimate Fighter 17. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt won his fight to make it into the house, but proceeded to lose to Collin Hart and Robert “Bubba” McDaniel in his two chances to fight during the season’s tournament. He quit on his stool in the McDaniel fight. Despite Casey’s poor showing on the reality series, he was booked to fight Josh Samman at the TUF 17 Finale. Samman handed Casey a TKO loss, and the UFC handed the Strikeforce veteran his walking papers. Casey, who made his pro debut in 2007, joined the RFA’s roster just a few months later. He has picked up two wins with the promotion to earn this title berth. The Black House fighter’s only official career losses have come to Ikuhisa Minowa, Matt Lindland and the aforementioned Samman.

The 26-year-old Sanchez started wrestling as a freshman in high school. By the close of his collegiate career, he was a four-time NAIA All-American and a two-time national champion. During his college campaign, he spent offseasons training in MMA. “El Dirte” has compiled a near-spotless record through two years of competition and six total fights. His first two victories came by way of rear-naked choke in the first round. His three more recent wins, including his two RFA victories, came via TKO. His lone loss came via split decision against UFC veteran Dustin Jacoby. Sanchez has only gone past the first round twice, but his wrestling background suggests that cardio shouldn’t be a problem.

It could be said that when the going gets tough, Casey tends to wilt. However, that would be a bit inaccurate. He doesn’t quit, but he lacks the cardio to go deep in fights on a consistent basis. Yet, he does possess a very dangerous grappling game. Sanchez has to be wary of Casey’s grappling attack, especially early in the fight.

This is the fight where Sanchez proves if he’s for real. If he’s not, he’ll join Casey Ryan as another RFA prospect to be derailed by the “King.” The difference between Ryan and Sanchez, though, lies in the well-roundedness of their games. Ryan is primarily a grappler, whereas Sanchez is just as likely to score a TKO as he is to secure a submission. That gives Sanchez an edge against Casey that Ryan didn’t enjoy. Casey folds when he gets hit, and he really breaks down when he’s getting hit while he’s exhausted. Sanchez has suggested that he wants to push Casey to his limits, then finish him. That’s a solid strategy, and one that is highly likely to play out in this affair.

As long as Sanchez doesn’t make any significant mistakes, he should be able to use his wrestling and striking to wear down Casey, whose game remains largely centered around his jiu-jitsu. Sanchez will find the TKO finish midway through this contest and claim the middleweight title as his prize.

Other key bouts: Alan Jouban (8-2) vs. Ricky Legere Jr. (18-4), James Moontasri (6-1) vs. Jordan Rinaldi (6-2), Daniel Aguiar (10-3) vs. Sam Toomer (7-0), Chinzo Machida (2-2) vs. Dmitry Gerasimov (3-1), John Hackleman Jr. (2-0) vs. Justin Jones (2-0), Altair Alencar (7-1) vs. Justin Linn (5-1), Kyra Batara (1-0) vs. Rosa Acevedo (1-1)

Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 69: Super Saturday

The Forum in London
Event Date: June 7
Website: cagewarriors.com
Watch Event:
Fight Now TV (USA and Caribbean)
Premier Sports (United Kingdom)
Setanta Sports 1 (Ireland)
Fight Network (Canada, Portugal, Belgium, Middle East)
Fight Klub (Poland)
Setanta Action (Africa)
Viasat Sport (Norway)
TV 10 (Sweden)
Fox Sports (Turkey, Greece, Malta, Cyprus)
MMA Junkie (USA/Canada)
Viaplay (Scandinavia)
irishmma.tv (Ireland)
cagewarriors.tv (rest of the world, excluding the United Kingdom)
prelims on Facebook
Twitter: @CageWarriors

Spotlight Fight:
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (5-0) vs. Rosi Sexton (13-4)

With its “Super Saturday” event, Cage Warriors has decided that two is better than one. The top British promotion’s 69th event comes complete with two main cards. Although the show will take place at one venue, it is quite an ambitious undertaking, with a vacant title up for grabs in each card’s headliner. Although the title tilts between lightweights Steven Ray and Curt Warburton and middleweights Jack Hermansson and Norman Paraisy stand as intriguing affairs, there’s also a featured women’s fight that deserves attention. Former Cage Warriors champion and UFC veteran Rosi Sexton is prepared to give Polish fighter Joanna Jedrzejczyk yet another challenge in her budding career.

Jedrzejczyk has only been fighting professionally since 2012 and has just five fights under her belt, but the 26-year-old has already cracked the top five of MMA Rising’s Unified Women’s MMA Rankings and is on the verge of doing likewise in The MMA Corner’s own polls. The Arrachion MMA Olsztyn product has gone the distance on three occasions, but one of those fights was her pro debut and the other two contests pitted her against respected veterans Julia Berezikova and Karla Benitez. Jedrzejczyk comes from a Muay Thai background. She achieved a 37-3 mark in amateur Muay Thai competition and a 27-2-1 record as a pro, but combined for only 11 wins by some form of knockout throughout her entire Muay Thai career. That lack of knockout power shows in her MMA resume, where she has only finished one opponent via TKO. She has won numerous titles, including world championships, as a Muay Thai fighter.

Sexton should be excited about a return to the division where she found plenty of success. The 36-year-old British fighter moved up to bantamweight for her opportunity to compete inside the UFC’s Octagon, but the results were far from great. Sexton was battered by Alexis Davis and Jessica Andrade in a pair of decision losses. The Next Generation product demonstrated a ton of heart in going the distance, but her performances made it clear that she belongs at flyweight. Although she holds a black belt in taekwondo, Sexton is more apt to take her opponent to the mat and hunt for an armbar, a hold she has used to acquire six of her seven career submission victories. “The Surgeon,” who holds a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science, has been fighting professionally since 2002. She has fought the likes of Gina Carano, Carina Damm, Zoila Frausto Gurgel, Sally Krumdiack, Roxanne Modafferi, Aisling Daly and the aforementioned Berezikova, and only suffered losses to Carano and Gurgel out of that group.

The experience—and success—that Sexton brings to the cage cannot be discounted. Her misfortunes in the UFC are misleading. She has not performed well historically when going above 132 pounds, which was the weight at which she captured the Cage Warriors crown. She went up to fight Carano, and the result was a second-round knockout. She went up again to enter the UFC, and the result was a pair of drubbings.

Jedrzejczyk doesn’t have Sexton’s experience, but she has been impressive in her recent victories. Berezikova and Benitez are no pushovers, and the Polish fighter topped both ladies on the scorecards. As a Muay Thai striker, she will want to keep this fight standing and avoid Sexton’s jiu-jitsu game. The Polish fighter has a decent sprawl, and she’s also strong from the clinch. Sexton can have a tendency to telegraph her takedown attempts against strikers or opponents who are getting the better of her, and that will only allow Jedrzejczyk to escape with ease.

Sexton is far better than her UFC run suggested, but this fight puts her in the cage against someone who is taller, faster and better on her feet than the veteran. Sexton won’t bow out easily, so this one is more than likely headed for the final bell. Jedrzejczyk will make the most of her striking arsenal in outpointing Sexton and securing the decision victory.

Other key bouts: Steven Ray (14-5) vs. Curt Warburton (13-4) for the vacant lightweight title, Jack Hermansson (7-2) vs. Norman Paraisy (14-3-2) for the vacant middleweight title, Jack Marshman (14-5) vs. Bola Omoyele (7-2), Ben Alloway (13-5) vs. Mohsen Bahari (7-1), Simeon Thoresen (17-4-1) vs. Jake Bostwick (14-8), Bruno Carvalho (15-8) vs. Jack Mason (27-13), Martin Delaney (8-0) vs. Damir Hadzovic (8-2), Tim Wilde (4-0) vs. Damien Brown (10-6), Arnold Allen (7-0) vs. Marcin Wrzosek (7-2), Graham Turner (23-8) vs. Suleiman Bouhata (9-4), Brett Caswell (4-1) vs. Spencer Hewitt (11-7), Adam Ventre (3-0) vs. Aaron Blackwell (12-9-1)

BAMMA Fight Night: Askham vs. Nunes

O2 Guildhall in Southampton, Hampshire, England
Event Date: June 7
Website: bamma.com
Twitter: @bammauk

Spotlight Fight:
Scott Askham (11-0) vs. Max Nunes (13-1)

While Cage Warriors explores new territory on Saturday with two main cards for a single event, it’s not the only British promotion treading new ground. BAMMA is adding to its schedule by incorporating what it is calling “regional” shows. These events, comprised of professional and amateur bouts, aren’t quite at the same level as BAMMA’s major shows, but that doesn’t mean the lineup is lacking when it comes to significant fights. For this Saturday’s “Fight Night” showcase, the headliner features Scott Askham and Max Nunes vying for the promotion’s middleweight strap.

Sweden’s Nunes made his pro debut in 2010 and stormed through his first 11 opponents while racking up five submission victories and six TKO wins. The 6-foot-4 fighter has competed as a light heavyweight, but a loss to Jason Jones at BAMMA 13 convinced him to head to the middleweight division, where he has rebounded with two wins. The 25-year-old has trained alongside UFC veteran Nick Osipczak at New Wave Academy MMA, but he also has ties to the Allstars Training Center in Sweden. Though Nunes does have the grappling skills and knockout power to finish fights, he has drawn comparisons to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for his reliance on athleticism over refined skills. Nunes replaced Askham on the BAMMA 14 card and defeated Ion Pascu via decision. Nunes’ victory in that contest put him at the front of the line for a shot at Askham’s belt.

Askham captured the title at BAMMA 13, where he topped Jorge Luis Bezerra by way of unanimous decision. It marked the fourth consecutive fight in which the undefeated Askham entered the third round. His first seven pro bouts, beginning with a 2010 TKO victory over Rolandas Cizauskas, ended in the first frame. The Ludus Magnus fighter has six wins by some form of knockout, including several that have come in under a minute and one that took just four seconds. Askham’s resume features notable victories over the likes of Jack Marshman and Denniston Sutherland, in addition to the title fight win over Bezerra, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.

Askham is a big middleweight capable of mixing in knees and kicks to earn knockout wins, often in quick fashion. In this contest, however, the 6-foot-3 fighter’s typical size advantage will be nullified—he will only enjoy a one-inch advantage in height over Nunes.

Askham will not shy away from grappling, and this is one fight where he might be wise to attack with submissions when he has the opportunity. Nunes’ chin could fail him, but the bigger certainty here is Nunes’ lack of strong takedown defense and a vulnerability to submissions that was revealed in his loss to Jones.

Nunes is a very athletically gifted fighter, but his hype still exceeds his ability in the cage. Both fighters like to use their reach and pick away at opponents, but Askham has the added ability to get fights to the mat. He has the power to rattle Nunes, and the ability to pounce while Nunes attempts to recover. Askham will be able to successfully defend his belt at BAMMA’s regional show, and he’ll do so with a submission victory over Nunes.

Other key bouts: Alex Montagnani (6-1-1) vs. Tim Menzies (2-0), Ed Arthur (3-0) vs. Michael Cutting (4-2), Ashleigh Grimshaw (15-8-1) vs. Dragan Pesic (3-1)