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…

Coalizão Fight: Vasconcelos vs. Cruz

Altino Pimenta Gymnasium in Belem, Para, Brazil
Event Date: June 26

Spotlight Fight:
Rildeci Lima Dias (16-2) vs. Jose Vagno de Oliveira Soares (7-0)

There is certainly no shortage of MMA promotions in the country of Brazil, but one more organization is throwing its name in the hat. Coalizão Fight is set to host its inaugural card in Belem, Para, Brazil. Although Fabio Augusto de Assis Vasconcelos and Marcelo Cruz headline the card and Zezão Trator is also scheduled to fight, it’s the bout between flyweights Rildeci Lima Dias and Jose Vagno de Oliveira Soares that features the two brightest prospects in the lineup.

Dias made his pro debut in 2009 and sat at 12-1 by May 2013. His second loss, a guillotine choke submission defeat, came in September 2013 against The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil cast member Giovanni Soldado. His only other loss, which came in his third career fight and also ended in a submission, was to a fighter who now stands at 5-5. “Escorpiao” has been active since his last defeat, competing in four fights between October 2013 and the end of May 2014. Those fights account for his current four-fight winning streak, and the competition ranges from a debuting fighter to a winless three-fight veteran to a .500 fighter to a 7-1 prospect. He ended all four of those contests in the second round, adding to his knockout and submission totals. With 10 victories by some form of knockout, Dias definitely prefers to use his fists to finish fights. However, the Naldao Team product has also notched four wins via submission. He’s a lanky flyweight who loves to throw a lot of kicks.

The 23-year-old Soares entered the sport in 2011 and amassed six wins within his first year and a half as a pro. Then he went inactive for more than a year before returning to action in May to add a seventh win to his spotless record. Soares has ties to Tailandia Fighter, Brasa and Thiago Galvao BJJ. He has scored four wins by some form of knockout and two via submission. The one knock on his perfect mark is the level of competition he has faced. The current combined record of his seven opponents sits at 4-11, and they were a combined 1-3 entering into their fights with Soares.

Dias can be easily taken down, but he’s skilled at using submission attempts in order to sweep his opponent. The 18-fight veteran is at his best when he mixes up punches, kicks and knees, rather than sticking to kicks as his only weapon. Where he falters is against fighters who can take him down and find the submission. Soares isn’t that type of fighter. The 23-year-old is just as eager as Dias when it comes to finding a knockout win. Dias tends to make good use of his range, and he’s certainly the man with the experience edge in this contest. Considering the level of competition Soares has faced, it’s difficult to trust his record as a true indicator of his talent.

Both men will be hunting for the big finish, but Dias has the better chance of getting it. He was able to put together his punches and kicks with some great knees from the Muay Thai clinch to finish off Carlos Lima in his last outing, and he’ll deliver a similar flurry to bring an early end to the night for Soares.

Other key bouts: Fabio Augusto de Assis Vasconcelos (3-0) vs. Marcelo Cruz (4-5), Jose de Ribamar Machado Gomes (34-11-1) vs. Zozimar de Oliveira Silva Jr. (19-10), Jameson Reis (2-0) vs. Jordano Abdon (1-1), Fabricio Viegas Sarraff (17-4) vs. Robson Cisco (15-10), Kleber Willian Meireles Vilar (11-3) vs. Eunapio Edson Freitas (3-4)

Vale Tudo Japan 5th

Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan
Event Date: June 28
Website: Facebook/VTJ
Watch Event: Online pay-per-view stream at Nico.
Twitter: @vtj1

Spotlight Fight:
Ryuichi Miki (16-6-4) vs. Czar Sklavos (9-3)

Vale Tudo Japan returns with its fifth offering this weekend. Although the card doesn’t contain quite as many recognizable names as earlier shows from the promotion, there is a notable flyweight tournament semifinal pairing that pits Japanese veteran Ryuichi Miki against seasoned journeyman Czar Sklavos. The winner will advance to the tourney finals, where he will meet the winner of the other semifinal contest at Vale Tudo Japan 5th, which features Hiromasa Ogikubo and Kana Hyatt.

Sklavos, whose father is a former world champion kickboxer, has suffered three losses since making his pro debut in 2010, but there’s no shame in those defeats. The first came in his debut fight, where he faced off with T.J. Dillashaw, a talented fighter who has gone on to capture the UFC bantamweight crown. His only other losses came to former Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder and current UFC fighter Josh Sampo and Olympic bronze medalist and World Series of Fighting veteran Alexis Vila. He went the distance with all three of those high-level competitors. Sklavos is riding a two-fight winning streak coming off the loss to Vila. His victims include Bellator veteran Nick Mamalis and longtime top Japanese fighter Mamoru Yamaguchi. Sklavos was able to submit both men within the first frame of their respective bouts. The 32-year-old trains out of Sklavos MMA in Idaho and is proficient on the mat, where he has snagged eight victories by way of submission. His other four fights have gone the distance.

Miki has been a fixture in the flyweight MMA scene longer than the division has existed within the UFC. Miki’s debut came in 2005, but he stumbled out of the gates to a 1-2 start. He righted the ship with an 8-0-3 surge through his next 11 fights, then hit a rough patch where he won just one of five fights. Again, he was able to rebound, though, and he is now undefeated through his last seven fights, with six wins and a draw in that stretch. He captured Shooto gold in late 2013 and went on to claim a victory at the most recent Vale Tudo Japan event. Miki’s resume includes losses to Masaaki Sugawara, Yuki Shojo, Yasuhiro Urushitani (twice), Haruo Ochi and Kentaro Watanabe. He has avenged the losses to Sugawara and Ochi, and he fought to a draw with Urushitani prior to suffering two defeats at the hands of the elite flyweight. Miki is a decision machine, with 12 wins and six losses coming on the judges’ scorecards. He has only scored four finishes, three of which came by way of TKO and one via submission.

This is a contrast in styles between Sklavos, a fighter who will be intent on getting the fight to the mat so he can work for a submission, and Miki, who tends to opt for a boxing-based attack. Miki has improved his takedown defense, and he can handle himself well on the ground. The Shooto veteran also packs enough power to rattle Sklavos, whose chin was tested on a few occasions by Vila. Sklavos isn’t completely lost on his feet, but Miki possesses the superior striking. Miki is also impossible to finish, even when he’s in danger, which means that Sklavos will have to outpoint the Japanese mainstay in the hopes of emerging with the decision victory.

If Sklavos is content to stand and throw down with Miki, he’s destined for either a knockout loss or the wrong end of a decision verdict. The Idahoan fighter has to get Miki to the mat, but he lacks the wrestling background to score those takedowns with reliability. Some might point to the 32-year-old’s victory against Yamaguchi as proof of his ability to beat top competition, but Sklavos scored that win during Yamaguchi’s recent slide—Yamaguchi hasn’t won a fight since mid-2011. Miki’s striking and durability when in trouble will be enough to frustrate Sklavos. Miki’s boxing, meanwhile, will earn him the points to take a razor-thin decision.

Other key bouts: Hiromasa Ogikubo (11-3-2) vs. Kana Hyatt (13-12), Yasuaki Kishimoto (15-6-2) vs. Shinji Sasaki (13-8-2), Kenji Yamamoto (6-2-1) vs. Yusaku Nakamura (7-4-1), Kazunari Majima (2-0) vs. Tsuneo Kimura (8-6-1), Hidenobu Izena (6-1-1) vs. Junya Kodo (9-6-2)

Pancrase 259

Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: June 29
Website: pancrase.co.jp
Twitter: @_PANCRASE_

Spotlight Fight:
Ryo Kawamura (16-8-4) vs. Shinsho Anzai (7-1)

Pancrase returns this weekend for its 259th numbered event. Among the highlights of the night are several Neo-Blood Tournament fights and super flyweight Mitsuhisa Sunabe’s first Pancrase outing of the year. Another featured bout from the evening’s lineup finds middleweight King of Pancrase Ryo Kawamura putting his crown on the line against Shinsho Anzai.

Kawamura, who made his pro debut in 2005, reigned as the light heavyweight King of Pancrase from 2009 until he vacated the title in 2011 when he shifted his sights to the middleweight division. By 2012, he had captured the middleweight crown with a win over Shungo Oyama. The 32-year-old fighter has never submitted an opponent, nor has he been submitted. In the striking department, he has scored nine finishes by some form of knockout, but he has also suffered four defeats via KO/TKO. He has gone the distance in 15 of his fights, with seven wins, four losses and four draws in those decisions.

Anzai may have claimed five of his victories via TKO, including one by way of soccer kick, but he’s also a grappler who has competed at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships. The 28-year-old secured a title shot by toppling top contender Will Noland in the first round of their encounter. “Animal” debuted in 2009 and notched two victories before suffering his lone career loss, which came on the scorecards against Jerry Nelson. Anzai is currently riding a five-fight winning streak, but Noland stands as the only fighter with a winning record among Anzai’s wins.

There’s always a risk that Kawamura suffers a knockout loss, especially given his hands-down, unorthodox stance, but this is a fighter who has gone the distance with the likes of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Kevin Randleman in losing efforts. He’s also proven his ability to deal with grapplers when he topped Antonio Braga Neto on the scorecards.

Kawamura’s own striking ability makes him a threat to Anzai, and his experience gives him an added edge, especially now that both men find themselves in the less familiar setting of a cage, rather than a ring. It’ll be an entertaining battle, but Kawamura will emerge with the title still firmly in his grip.

Other key bouts: Hikaru Hasumi (7-3-1) vs. Juntaro Ushiku (8-2-1) in a Neo-Blood Tournament featherweight semifinal bout, Kento Kanbe (5-0) vs. Toshio Mitani in a Neo-Blood Tournament flyweight semifinal bout, Mitsuhisa Sunabe (21-7-4) vs. Hiroaki Ijima (6-6-3)