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…

Superior Challenge 8: Malmo

Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden
Event Date: Oct. 6
Website: superiorchallenge.com
Twitter: @SuperiorC

Spotlight Fight:
Marcus Davis (20-9) vs. David Bielkheden (17-11)

Injuries often change the shape of entire cards. Superior Challenge knows all about that. The promotion’s eighth offering was to feature Karo Parisyan against David Bielkheden and prospect Ilir Latifi twice slated to fight solid veterans—Jeff Monson and D.J. Linderman. Those matchups are all out the window now, as Latifi squares off with the much less accomplished Jorge Oliveira and Bielkheden finds himself up against a different UFC veteran in Marcus Davis.

Davis and Bielkheden are the definition of grizzled veterans struggling to find one more trip to the big show. Davis is closer to realizing that goal, though it’s likely still far out of reach. The Irish-American last competed inside the Octagon in Jan. 2011, but has gone 3-1 since receiving his walking papers. In his time away from the UFC, Davis has defeated Pete Spratt by decision, but also dropped a decision to Chuck O’Neil.

Bielkheden’s post-UFC career hasn’t gone quite as well. Although he did string together three straight wins after his release, he has now posted just one win in his last five appearances, dating back nearly two years. He has been submitted, disqualified and lost two decisions. His only victory in that span was a first-round TKO of Edgar Dayan.

The Swedish member of Brazilian Top Team holds a black belt, which should give him an advantage over Davis on the ground. However, Davis, a former pro boxer, has mat skills of his own, having submitted nine of his opponents. It’s a matter of whether Bielkheden can control Davis and go on the offensive when the fight is on the ground—Davis’ might have submission skills, but he’s not quite as skilled at submission defense.

Bielkheden recently displayed his hands with the win over Dayan. The big consideration there, though, is that Dayan is now winless through five pro bouts. It’s been more than two years since the BJJ black belt had his hand raised against an adversary sporting a winning record. While that might make Davis seem like the logical choice, the fact is that the 39-year-old is well past his prime and has been inactive for an entire year. That evens the playing field in this contest.

Despite that, it’s difficult to look past Bielkheden’s recent lack of success. This fight will be close, but Davis has still shown enough success against mid-level competition to be given the benefit of the doubt. The “Irish Hand Grenade” will take a hard-fought unanimous decision victory.

Other key bouts: Ilir Latifi (6-2) vs. Jorge Oliveira (5-2) for the light heavyweight title, James McSweeney (10-9) vs. Matti Makela (10-11)

Championship Fighting Alliance 8

BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla.
Event Date: Oct. 6
Website: cfafights.com
Watch the Event: Sun Sports and free live stream on Facebook

Spotlight Fight:
Paul Bradley (20-4) vs. Valdir Araujo (10-3)

This edition of Out of Obscurity actually features three previewed fights where injuries or other circumstances have led to replacement opponents. In the case of the Championship Fighting Alliance, Paul Bradley, who at one time had been slated to fight elsewhere on the card, stepped into the main event slot opposite Valdir Araujo when Araujo’s original foe, Marcus Aurelio, withdrew due to an injury.

In terms of fights where both combatants have true potential to crack into the big leagues (or return there), this is the most intriguing matchup of this week’s trio of previewed bouts. Bradley and Araujo have suffered their only losses at the hands of quality opponents, and both have shown well-rounded abilities. Furthermore, both are still in their twenties, something that can’t be said of this week’s other pairings.

Bradley is best known for his time on The Ultimate Fighter and being asked to leave the TUF house due to a contagious skin condition. The wrestler, who trains out of The Academy in Minnesota, has since fought inside the Octagon twice, losing decisions to Rafael Natal and Mike Pierce. Bradley is a strong wrestler, but he packs power and is also technically proficient on the ground.

Araujo holds the level of black belt in two arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo. Despite his skills on the mat, Araujo has actually become known more for his striking. This presents a problem for Bradley, as the wrestler will likely be at a disadvantage on his feet, but also faces a serious threat in the form of Araujo’s submission skills if he opts to take the fight to the ground.

Bradley is hard to stop and only tends to lose via decision. In fact, the only time he was stopped, it was by current Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. Meanwhile, Araujo’s lone decision loss came against top UFC middleweight contender Chris Weidman. This will be a real test for both men, but Bradley’s wrestling could put Araujo on his back for the majority of this fight. And if not, Bradley’s power might be enough to get him a stoppage over a man who has suffered a TKO at the hands of Brett Cooper and a knockout courtesy of Lucio Linhares.

Other key bouts: Toby Imada (30-16) vs. Luiz Firmino (14-6), Charles Blanchard (10-2) vs. Frank Carrillo (5-3), Patrick Cenoble (8-1) vs. Michael Trujillo (4-1)

Classic Entertainment and Sports MMA: Real Pain

Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I.
Event Date: Oct. 6
Website: cesmma.com
Watch the Event: DirecTV pay-per-view ($29.95/SD, $39.95/HD) and online at bautistamma.com
Twitter: @CESMMA

Spotlight Fight:
Dave Bautista (0-0) vs. Vince Lucero (22-22-1)

Professional wrestlers have found varied levels of success in MMA, from Brock Lesnar’s run as UFC heavyweight champion to the mixed results of Bobby Lashley. Now, it’s Batista’s turn…or Bautista, as the former WWE superstar’s actual name is spelled. Classic Entertainement and Sports is hosting the professional debut of Dave Bautista, but, as with the other two fights previewed in this edition of Out of Obscurity, the matchup has undergone a change—in this case, the late replacement comes in on roughly five days’ notice.

Instead of Rashid Evans, a fighter who went 3-1 as an amateur, Bautista now draws Vince Lucero, a 45-fight veteran of the sport.

Bautista has been training for his debut for a while now, but at 43 years of age, his new career could be short-lived—think of him as the next Herschel Walker, except without Walker’s natural all-around athletic abilities. The fact that the former pro wrestler comes from a body building background doesn’t play in his favor.

It’s hard to tell whether the change in opponents will be a good or a bad thing for Bautista. On the one hand, Evans was a fairly successful amateur also set to make his pro debut. On the other, Lucero is a 12-plus year veteran of the sport, but has managed just four wins since 2005. His resume is filled with significant heavyweight names, but his cage time with those opponents tends to come in at under two minutes each. Shockingly, though, Lucero is on a two-fight winning streak.

This fight is all about seeing what Bautista is made of. He’ll have a four-inch height advantage and will definitely be the stronger of the two men. He can also be an intimidating presence, though that would likely have impacted his fight with a fellow rookie such as Evans more than it would his bout with Lucero. Bautista will surely come out with a flurry before ducking under and looking for a slam reminiscent of his pro wrestling moves.

It has to be an all-or-nothing fight for the big man. Lucero is at his most vulnerable in the opening minutes of the fight, and the longer the veteran can keep this bout going the more things turn in his favor. It’s not so much due to Lucero’s own skills, but rather due to the adrenaline dump and gassing out that will witness from Bautista if this fight hits a second or third stanza. The former WWE superstar carries around a ton of muscle, and we’ve seen that even experienced fighters pay the price for sporting a bodybuilder’s physique.

Despite Lucero’s experience, it’s those opening two minutes that will be all that’s needed to decide this bout. Bautista’s aggression will find Lucero battered to a pulp against the cage early, resulting in a TKO victory for MMA’s latest import from the world of pro wrestling.

Other key bouts: David Loiseau (20-10) vs. Chris McNally (5-4), Marc Stevens (14-7) vs. Luis Felix (7-6), John Howard (17-7) vs. Brett Chism (16-11), Keith Jeffrey (8-2-1) vs. Chad Reiner (29-13), Saul Almeida (12-2) vs. Calvin Kattar (12-2), Mike Campbell (11-4) vs. Gemiyale Adkins (7-3), Chandler Holderness (9-3) vs. Todd Chattelle (10-7), Greg Rebello (13-4) vs. Chris Guillen (13-12), Josh Diekmann (12-4) vs. Tyler King (4-1)

Photo: Dave Bautista (far left) will makes his MMA debut (Quinn Shields/Sherdog)

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.