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 48

HMV Forum in London
Event Date: July 21
Website: cagewarriors.com
Watch the Event: MMA Junkie
Twitter: @CageWarriors

Spotlight Fight:
John Phillips (15-5) vs. Chris Fields (9-3)

It didn’t happen in the semi-finals of the CWFC middleweight title tournament in April, but now John Phillips will finally meet Chris Fields. Fields is stepping in on less than two weeks’ notice to replace the injured Faycal Hucin.

After a lackluster 2-3 start to his pro career, Fields has really turned it around with seven stoppage victories. In the process, the Irishman has also picked up gold, but oddly enough, it happens to be the 185-pound crown from the Irish Cage Contenders promotion, which is also featured in this week’s preview. The middleweight fighter has never gone to a decision and has stopped opponents with both his fists and his grappling skills.

Speaking of fists, when your nickname is “The White Mike Tyson,” people know what to expect out of you. The man who sports that moniker, John Phillips, has tallied 13 wins by some form of knockout. And much like Tyson in his prime, the 27-year-old knockout artist scored those victories in quick fashion after the opening bell. The Welsh fighter has five losses on his record, but they have come against the likes of Frank Trigg, Jim Wallhead, Tom Watson, Pavel Kusch and Denniston Sutherland—nothing to be ashamed of there.

Combined, these two men, who will be fighting at a catchweight of 192 pounds, have only seen the judges’ scorecards once—a 2008 unanimous decision loss for Phillips against Watson. Fields appears to have the better-rounded game, but he has not faced the level of competition Phillips has seen. Phillips has come out on the wrong end of striking battles before, though, so he does have to be wary of Fields’ stand-up attack.

Although Fields does have some first-round finishes, he is historically slower than Phillips at ending his opponent’s night. The key here is for Fields to either survive the early attack, or better yet, use Phillips aggressiveness against him. Four of Phillips’ losses have come in the first stanza, so he does have a tendency to make mistakes. Can Fields capitalize on such a mistake? Perhaps, but Phillips is no slouch. He has proved that the majority of the time, his opening blitz is effective. Phillips continues to add to his reputation with another knockout here.

Other key bouts: Denniston Sutherland (16-8) vs. Brett Sizeland (6-1), Aaron Wilkinson (9-5) vs. Leigh Cohoon (8-5)

Jewels: 20th Ring

Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: July 21
Website: w-jewels.jp
Twitter: @JEWELS_info

Spotlight Fight:
Mei Yamaguchi (9-4-1) vs. Emi Tomimatsu (5-4)

Former Valkyrie featherweight champion Mei Yamaguchi has fallen on a bit of a rough patch lately, with only one win in her last three outings—and even that fight ended in a split decision. “V.V.” traveled outside of Japan for the first time in her career only to lose a unanimous verdict to Katja Kankaanpaa at Botnia Punishment 11.

Whereas Yamaguchi has remained active in MMA, even while also competing in shoot boxing matches, her opponent, Emi Tomimatsu, will be fighting for only the fourth time since returning from a three-year absence from the sport. Tomimatsu has tallied three wins in her three outings since returning. Interestingly, her departure from active competition came after back-to-back losses to Yamaguchi and Tomomi Sunaba.

Tomimatsu is a grinder. She has picked up all of her wins by way of decision. Her focus will be to close the distance and turn this into a clinch battle or take it to the mat.

Yamaguchi has also seen five wins via decision, and has also lost four bouts on the judges’ scorecards. Despite her striking background, it has been Yamaguchi’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that has earned her all of her stoppage wins. However, the concerning elements to Yamaguchi are her recent losses and an inconsistency in finishing opponents.

Yamaguchi might sport the better record, the bigger name and the standing as the No. 7-ranked 115-pound female fighter in the world, but Tomimatsu might just have what it takes to score the win here. The last time these two met—the lightweight finals of Smackgirls’ The Next Cinderella 2007 tournament—it was Yamaguchi who eked out a split decision. This time, look for Tomimatsu to avenge the loss with a split verdict of her own by controlling Yamaguchi in the clinch throughout the fight.

Other key bouts: Yasuko Tamada (12-8-3) vs. Naoko Omuro (13-8-4)

Cage Contender XIV

National Basketball Arena in Dublin, Ireland
Event Date: July 21
Website: cagecontender.com
Twitter: @cagecontender

Spotlight Fight:
Artemij Sitenkov (14-7) vs. Patrick Holohan (8-0-1)

Although Ivan Salaverry and Shannon Gugerty provide this card with names recognizable to UFC fans, both the 41-year-old, who will vie for the promotion’s vacant light heavyweight crown, and the featherweight title challenger have had their shots at the big show and found little success. However, the finals of the Cage Contenders’ inaugural bantamweight grand prix might produce a European draw for the UFC’s fledgling flyweight division.

Artemij Sitenkov might be fighting at 135 pounds in this affair, but the Lithuanian submission specialist is actually the top-ranked 125-pounder in Europe. That’s significant given the UFC’s frequent trips to Europe and its relatively shallow depth at flyweight.

Sitenkov will have to prove himself against top Irish bantamweight Patrick—or Paddy, as the Irish call him—Holohan. Holohan sports the more impressive record, which still features a goose egg in the loss column. “The Hooligan” posted an impressive first-round knockout of Damien Rooney in April, but a look beyond that fight shows a resume filled with seriously underwhelming competition. The knockout win runs contrary to Holohan’s usual finishing style, which involves securing a submission.

Holohan might excel in grappling, but he might prefer to keep this bout standing. After all, Sitenkov has successfully worked for the submission finish in all 14 of his victories. The 29-year-old has also lost five times by submission, as well as suffering a set of TKO setbacks. However, the flyweight has competed against 135ers in the past, putting him at a disadvantage—one of his losses came via submission to current Cage Contenders bantamweight champion Paul McVeigh.

The fact that Sitenkov has faced the likes of McVeigh illustrates the different level of competition these two have seen. It will be a tough test for Holohan to prove he really is a top bantamweight and not just a fighter who can beat overmatched opponents. “The Hooligan” could catch Sitenkov in a submission, or pressure his smaller opponent in the stand-up, where Holohan likely holds a more clear-cut advantage. Yet, Holohan just seems like the right fit to add another impressive win to Sitenkov’s record.

Sitenkov gets the better of the grappling in this contest and adds the 15th submission victory to his record. Don’t expect him to remain at bantamweight, however, when there’s a newly minted UFC flyweight division that could come calling the next time the UFC makes a stop in Europe.

Other key bouts: Ivan Salaverry (13-8) vs. Fraser Opie (9-5) for the light heavyweight title, Shannon Gugerty (14-6) vs. Owen Roddy (9-3) for the featherweight title

Photo: John Phillips (David Lethaby/Sherdog)