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…

Legacy Fighting Championship 32

Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel in Bossier City, La.
Event Date: June 20
Website: legacyfights.net
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @legacyfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Thomas Almeida (16-0) vs Caio Machado (4-0)

The Texas-based Legacy Fighting Championship promotion isn’t giving itself any time to catch its breath. Just seven days after Bubba Bush mounted a successful defense of his middleweight strap, the promotion is ready to crown a new bantamweight kingpin at its 32nd offering. It certainly found an intriguing pair of prospects to pair in the title bout. Thomas Almeida, an undefeated prospect through 16 pro bouts, meets another undefeated, though much less experienced, fighter in Caio Machado.

Despite checking in at just 22 years old, Almeida has already put together quite the body of work. The Macaco Gold Team and Chute Boxe product, who is teammates with UFC fighters Charles Oliveira, Felipe Arantes and Lucas Martins, posted a 26-3 record as a kickboxer and already has 16 MMA contests under his belt since entering the sport in May 2011. The Muay Thai practitioner isn’t just a striker, despite 12 wins by some form of knockout. He can grapple as well—he has finished four fights via submission. Much of Almeida’s early career featured fights against inexperienced foes or opponents with records at or below the .500 mark. In six fights over the last year, Almeida has upped his game. His wins in that period include victories over opponents who now stand at 12-6, 10-5 and 7-4. Almeida went 13 fights before seeing the second round, and he has 14 first-round wins overall.

Almeida’s Brazilian counterpart, Caio Machado, has a much shorter resume despite making his pro debut roughly six months after Almeida. The GF Team product has excellent Muay Thai and wrestling, but he has just two finishes—and only one first-round stoppage—in four outings. Three of his four fights came before the end of 2012. He only recently returned to action when he made his Legacy debut with a unanimous decision victory over Domingo Pilarte in January. Machado has seen a mixed bag of opponents, with two checking in with winless records.

Machado is an extremely aggressive fighter who can be lethal from various positions. He has a very accurate right hand and excellent knees from the clinch, but he can also slam his opponent to the mat with his power wrestling skills and drop down overwhelming barrages of ground-and-pound. The 21-year-old might not have the same amount of experience as his rival, but he’ll certainly present Almeida with a dangerous adversary in this title bout.

This fight has all of the ingredients to be a real barnburner. Almeida may not be the charging bull that Machado can be during fights, but he can still be coaxed into a slugfest. However, Almeida’s tendency is to stalk his opponent and wait for the right opportunity to strike with a hook or an uppercut. Almeida also tends to sit back and wait for the counter. Almeida fights long, too, and uses his reach to keep opponents at bay.

Almeida hasn’t seen many significant tests when it comes to takedowns, but Machado has the ability to change that. He has ragdolled previous opponents to set up his vicious ground-and-pound attack. However, he’s so aggressive at times that he could walk right into a counter from Almeida, who likes to throw punches to the body as well as the head.

Machado may be a little too wild for his own good. He’s going to rush forward and Almeida is going to respond by covering up to avoid the flurries before finding a home for an uppercut. Almeida has the power to finish opponents, whereas Machado hasn’t always demonstrated a similar knack for the finish. Give Almeida three—or, in this case, five—rounds to land a knockout blow, and there’s a pretty good chance he’ll do so. After an exciting start, Almeida will settle into his rhythm and end the fight in dramatic fashion to capture the bantamweight crown.

Other key bouts: Kyle Bradley (18-9) vs. Derrick Krantz (14-8), Klayton Mai (5-1) vs. Matt Schnell (2-1), Quentin Henry (7-2) vs. Nicholas Jackson (2-0), Geoff Neal (3-1) vs. Allen Smith (1-0), Chris Pham (3-1) vs. Tony Kelley (1-0)

V3 Fights: Johnson vs. Sheffield

Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Memphis, Tenn.
Event Date: June 21
Website: v3fights.com
Watch Event: internet pay-per-view on Ustream
Twitter: @v3fights

Spotlight Fight:
Wade Johnson (6-0) vs. Codie Shuffield (5-0)

The string of match-ups between undefeated prospects doesn’t end with Legacy’s card on Friday. V3 Fights has its own pair of undefeated young stars, Wade Johnson and Codie Shuffield. Their battle will headline the second V3 Fights card to include pro-level fights. When the dust settles on Saturday evening, only one of the lightweights will still possess an unblemished record.

Johnson didn’t take the typical route to mixed martial arts. The 6-foot-2 lightweight played basketball in high school and had opportunities awaiting him in the sport at the college level. Instead, he started fighting during the summer at the age of 16. Now 23 years old, “The Hammer” made his pro debut in February 2013 and posted six wins before the one-year anniversary of his debut. He’s a natural striker who has punched his way to victory in all but one of his outings. In January, he went the distance in a five-round affair opposite Craig Johnson. “The Hammer” eked out the split decision in that encounter.

Johnson’s opponent is the 25-year-old Shuffield. The Mississippi-based fighter made his pro debut in 2011 and has accumulated five wins on his perfect record. This will be only the second time in his career that he has fought more than once in a calendar year. He has two wins by way of TKO and two via submission. Shuffield’s most recent outing came inside the Bellator cage, where he disposed of Anthony Lemon via a second-round rear-naked choke. Shuffield’s father was a world champion kickboxer, and Shuffield’s background includes taekwondo and a successful run of his own as a kickboxer. He is also undefeated as a professional boxer through three bouts.

Johnson is a talented young fighter with a lot of natural skills, but he’s a striker first. That doesn’t bode well for him as he prepares to face a talented kickboxer. Johnson can be overwhelming with his strikes, but he’s sloppy. That could allow the shorter, stockier Shuffield, who has held a championship as a middleweight, to land effective counters, engage Johnson in the clinch or take him to the mat. For a high-level kickboxer, Shuffield looks to have the superior mat skills as well, and he could put them to use against Johnson.

This has the potential to be a wild war. Johnson likes to throw leather, but Shuffield has the well-rounded game to claim the edge wherever the fight may go. Unless Johnson can make use of his height and reach advantage to keep Shuffield on the outside, this one seems destined to end in a Shuffield win. It’s most likely to come on the mat, where Shuffield should be able to control position and hunt for the submission finish.

Other key bouts: Amberlynn Orr (1-0 amateur) vs. Auttumn Norton (2-1 amateur) for the women’s amateur bantamweight title

Cage Fury Fighting Championships 36

Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown, N.J.
Event Date: June 21
Website: cffc.tv
Watch Event: GoFightLive
Twitter: @RobHaydak (CFFC President) and @CFFCariasgarcia (General Manager)

Spotlight Fight:
Lyman Good (15-3) vs. Matt Secor (4-1)

The regional, developmental and international circuits aren’t just about the young up-and-coming prospects. Sometimes, it’s about veteran fighters going back to the drawing board. Cage Fury Fighting Championships has secured the services of veteran Lyman Good, a former Bellator champion who has struggled to regain the Bellator gold and also fell short in his attempt to make The Ultimate Fighter 19 house. Good, who hasn’t fought officially outside of the Bellator cage since 2008, looks to work out the kinks in his game at Cage Fury’s 36th show, where he’ll face prospect Matt Secor.

Good, who debuted in the New Jersey regional circuit with Ring of Combat in 2005 and appeared on the fifth Cage Fury show in 2007, marched through Bellator’s inaugural welterweight tournament to capture the title in 2009. He failed to score a successful title defense, instead losing the strap to Ben Askren in his first fight after the tournament win. He attempted to secure a rematch with runs in the season-four and season-seven tournaments, but his hopes were dashed by Rick Hawn and Andrey Koreshkov in a pair of decision losses. The Team Tiger Schulmann product entered the TUF 19 middleweight cast as a season favorite, but he was thwarted by Ian Stephens in his fight to make it into the house. The 29-year-old does his best work as a striker. He has scored seven wins by some form of knockout and seven via decision. All three of his defeats have come on the judges’ scorecards.

Secor, whose official record sits at 4-1, fared better in his own TUF bid. His appearance on the reality series came on The Ultimate Fighter 16, where he submitted Max Griffin to make it into the house. He was eliminated in his next fight, though, when he dropped a controversial split decision to Michael Hill. Secor’s official record includes just one loss, which came on the scorecards against Nordine Taleb in the Bellator cage. The 27-year-old has only fought once since the defeat, but it was an impressive 47-second submission finish of Joshua Key. Secor is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt who has secured all of his victories via submission. He trains out of Spa City BJJ.

The general opinion around Good is that his career has taken a downward turn, but he still has just three official losses. His failure to make the TUF cast is certainly the biggest black mark on his resume, and it also illustrates the gaping hole in his game: he’s extremely vulnerable to the takedown. In official action, he was dominated on the mat by Ben Askren, and Stephens used a similar blueprint to prevent Good from advancing to the house. Koreshkov also sealed his decision win over Good by scoring a third-round takedown and riding out the final minutes of the fight controlling Good from top position.

Secor has a slick jiu-jitsu game, but the question is whether he’ll be able to implement it against Good. The former Bellator champion is a huge welterweight, and he has brought in Russian wrestlers to help him shore up the weakness in his game. He’s probably not going to stuff every takedown from the likes of an Askren or even a Stephens, but Secor doesn’t have the same strong wrestling game as those two former foes.

Good has never been stopped in a fight, and Secor doesn’t look like the type of fighter to change that. He’ll have to either wrestle the Tiger Schulmann fighter to the mat and grind him out there, or he’ll need to win a striking battle, which is an ill-advised move when facing someone with Good’s power.

Good doesn’t typically lose to anyone but the best men he faces. Askren is among the welterweight elite, Koreshkov and Hawn have challenged for Bellator gold and Stephens features an arsenal that played right into Good’s biggest weakness. Secor just doesn’t land in that level of competition.

Secor is a tough out, too, so Good might not be able to score a TKO in this contest. However, he can pick apart Secor on the feet en route to a decision win.

Other key bouts: Sean Santella (13-4-1) vs. Chino Duran (7-7), Andy Main (8-1-1) vs. Kenny Foster (10-8), Darren Mima (4-1) vs. Claudio Ledesma (9-4), Emmanuel Walo (5-1-1) vs. Diego Peclat (3-5-1)