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…

Bison Fighting Championship 1

Eucaliptus Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: July 4
Website: Facebook/BisonFightingChampionship

Spotlight Fight:
Thomas de Almeida (10-0) vs. Jose Alexandre (6-2)

Yes, there is now a promotion named Bison Fighting Championship. No, it is not based out of Montana. Oddly enough, Bison FC is actually located in the southern hemisphere. In fact, it’s yet another addition to a long list of promotions located within the borders of Brazil. The upstart promotion is set to host its inaugural event this week, and it even managed to secure a fight that is compelling to not just local fight fans, but international fans as well. The compelling factor is the inclusion of Thomas de Almeida, whose record remains unblemished through 10 outings. The undefeated de Almeida will seek to retain that spotless mark when he meets Jose Alexandre in the show’s headlining attraction.

As if to make up for lost time after not fighting since December 2012, de Almeida has three bouts lined up for July, with the Bison FC 1 main event kicking off his busy month. He’s set to follow the July 4 bout with an appearance on MMA Super Heroes 1 against Valdines Silva on July 13 and a return two weeks later on July 27 against Ricardo Sattelmayer at X-Fight MMA 6. The Muay Thai practitioner was supposed to compete recently at the modified rules Combat8 event against Richie Vaculik, but visa issues forced his withdrawal from the card. The Macaco Gold Team and Chute Boxe product accumulated a 26-3 record as a kickboxer and has notched six wins by some form of knockout, but he has also submitted four opponents, proving that he has a grappling game to complement his striking attack. The 21-year-old has only been competing in mixed martial arts for just over two years and has mostly seen opponents who are either new to the sport or have records at or below the .500 mark. With the Vaculik fight never coming to fruition, Alexandre represents the most accomplished opponent de Almeida will have faced up to this point in his career.

Alexandre’s preference is to engage in a ground battle. “Ze Reborn” has four submission victories, all via choke, and one win by way of knockout. Alexandre’s lone stoppage loss came via submission against the undefeated Edson Lourenco, and he also suffered a decision defeat to a fighter who now stands at 2-2. The combined record of the opponents Alexandre has defeated stands at 3-6, with all six of those losses coming courtesy of “Ze Reborn.” The 25-year-old, having made his debut in January 2012, is an even more recent addition to the pro MMA ranks than his adversary.

Alexandre’s record may be the best of any opponent de Almeida has encountered thus far, but taking that record at face value is one thing. In reality, it’s not quite as impressive as it might seem at first glance. Many of “Ze Reborn’s” wins came against debuting fighters. There’s also the possibility that Alexandre may not be 100 percent in this fight. After all, his most recent win and loss came in a pair of fights that went the distance and took place on the same night—June 29, less than a week prior to this upcoming bout.

De Almeida’s record may also feature a number of wins against debuting fighters or lesser competition, but he has destroyed all of those opponents in the first round. He’s also proven himself in nearly 30 Muay Thai fights. There’s no question that he’ll be the better striker in this affair, but there’s also a good chance that he proves to be the better grappler as well. De Almeida has the edge in a superior set of fight teams in his corner and holds an experience advantage.

This bantamweight contest is certain to end within the first frame and it’s difficult to envision anything other than de Almeida’s hand raised in victory. How he gets the job done is the real question, and the answer likely lies in his stand-up, since “Ze Reborn” poses a greater danger to him on the mat than he does on his feet.

Other key bouts: Allan Nascimento (7-1) vs. Carlos Andre (2-1), Anderson Berlingeri dos Santos (6-1) vs. Leandro Souza Santos (1-0)

Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 56

The Forum in London
Event Date: July 6
Website: cagewarriors.com
Watch Event: Premier Sports (United Kingdom) and Setanta Sports (Ireland). Main card live stream on MMA Junkie (USA/Canada), Sportube.tv (Italy) and cagewarriors.tv (rest of the world). Prelim stream live on Facebook.
Twitter: @CageWarriors

Spotlight Fight:
Vincent Del Guerra (20-8) vs. Bola Omoyele (6-1)

Cage Warriors Fighting Championship has carved out a spot for itself as one of the more significant international promotions. The 56th numbered offering from the promotion finds Cage Warriors now available on cable systems in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Although far from its strongest lineup, the event does feature a number of intriguing bouts, chief among them the headlining contest between Vincent Del Guerra and TUF Smashes alum Bola Omoyele.

Omoyele was a Team U.K. welterweight on the UFC reality series, where he lost to Manny Rodriguez via a first-round submission in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. The 31-year-old fighter has been competing professionally since 2010 and entered the TUF house with a 6-1 record, a mark he maintains coming into this contest. Outside of his fight on TUF, the Brit has not seen action since claiming a first-round TKO victory over Warren Kee in April 2012. Outside of some experience in boxing as a youth, Omoyele entered MMA without a martial arts background. The American Top Team fighter has made quick work of his opponents in his current five-fight winning streak, finishing each of them via strikes in the first round.

Though he checks in at just 23 years old, Del Guerra already has plenty of experience under his belt. The French fighter has competed in 28 bouts and has emerged with 20 victories, including nine by way of submission and eight via some form of knockout. He has only suffered one TKO loss, and that was due to a shoulder injury. Six of his other losses have come by way of submission. The 5-foot-9 welterweight has competed in pankration bouts, where striking is more limited than it is under the typical rules of mixed martial arts. Among his most impressive wins is a knockout of Olympic judoka Ferrid Kheder in April at Pancrase Fighting Championship 5.

Despite being the younger fighter, Del Guerra has an extensive experience edge over Omoyele, but he has faced some questionable opposition and his win over Kheder came in a stretch where Kheder went 1-6 over seven fights. That’s not to discount Del Guerra’s chances in this contest. The Frenchman’s never legitimately been knocked out, though some of the fights on his record may have incorporated limited striking. His biggest weakness appears to be his submission defense, but grappling isn’t a strength for Omoyele.

This could turn into a war in the stand-up department. Del Guerra has proven power and has scored many clean knockouts in his career, but Omoyele has also brought an early end to plenty of his opponents’ nights. However, the Brit has suffered one TKO loss, in addition to the submission defeat on TUF. His chin may not be able to hold up to the punishment that Del Guerra is capable of doling out.

Omoyele is an exciting prospect who has taken out strikers and submission specialists. Del Guerra will be a tough task for him, but the edge really comes via Omoyele’s camp. Whereas Del Guerra trains out of France with MK Legion and Team Warriors, Omoyele calls American Top Team home. That gives him a superior set of training partners and instructors, and it goes to suggest that he’ll have the more refined skill set. Del Guerra always has the chance of connecting with one of his knockout blows, but if Omoyele can avoid making mistakes, he’ll emerge with the first-round TKO victory.

Other key bouts: Robbie Olivier (19-9) vs. Patrik Berisha (6-3), Graham Turner (22-7) vs. Nad Narimani (5-0), Brett Bassett (8-3) vs. Denniston Sutherland (19-10), Brett Sizeland (6-2) vs. Fabio Ferrari (5-2-1), Arnold Allen (3-0) vs. Andy Green (4-6)

German MMA Championship 4: Next Level

Gysenberghalle in Herne, Germany
Event Date: July 6
Website: german-mma.de
Twitter: @GMC_MMA

Spotlight Fight:
Jonas Billstein (10-3) vs. Martin Zawada (25-12-1)

In Germany, MMA is still in an era where acceptance is not as forthcoming. However, despite the sport’s currently struggles to gain understanding in the eye of the German public, one promotion has managed to gather the country’s talent and put it on display. That promotion, German MMA Championship, is back with just the fourth effort in its history, but the talent within the card suggests a bright future for the promotion and for MMA in Deutschland. The card features three title tilts, including a light heavyweight match-up in which champion Jonas Billstein puts his belt on the line against the more experienced Martin Zawada.

Billstein has a lot of work to do to get his career back on track. After starting his career in 2009 at the age of 18, Billstein compiled a perfect record through nine fights in his homeland. Then he ventured outside of Germany’s borders and his fortunes took a turn for the worse. In 2011, in the Czech Republic, Billstein suffered a submission loss to Attila Vegh. He then journeyed to the United States and dropped to middleweight, only to suffer a disqualification loss in his Bellator debut versus Herbert Goodman. He bounced back with a submission win over Mike Seal in his next Bellator outing, but then lost via unanimous decision to Perry Filkins at Bellator 81. The 21-year-old is now back to 205 pounds for this fight and hopes to defend the belt he claimed back in 2010 with a fifth-round TKO stoppage of Mathias Schuck.

Zawada had an even more impressive start to his MMA career than Billstein. The 29-year-old German first competed in May 2003 and tallied a 16-1 mark by March 2007. Then he started hitting some bumpy patches, losing a fight, winning two, and then going on a five-fight skid. Since that losing streak, he has failed to string together more than two consecutive wins, though he has also avoided more than two consecutive losses. To Zawada’s credit, he has suffered a number of his losses to extremely credible competition, such as Jordan Radev, Antonio Mendes, Mamed Khalidov, Toni Valtonen, Igor Pokrajac, Jan Blachowicz, Marcus Vanttinen and Krzysztof Jotko. The problem with Zawada is that he rarely overcomes the marquee names he faces. In fact, his only win over a notable opponent came in 2007 when he knocked out Baga Agaev.

Both of these men have a lot to prove.

Billstein signed on the dotted line with Bellator as a prospect with a lot of potential and a birth date that prevented him from even entering many of the venues where Bellator hosted events. But he has not fared well since arriving. The return to his native Germany might serve him well, but winning at home is only the first step to proving he’s a top international fighter and not just a top fighter within Germany.

As for Zawada, Billstein would qualify as the biggest victory on his resume, should he accomplish the task of defeating the champ. Although he has nearly 40 fights on his record, Zawada is still in his 20s and has time to take his career to the next level.

This is a battle of strikers, with Billstein holding seven victories via (T)KO and Zawada securing 15 via strikes. Despite losing to a number of significant opponents, Zawada has proven difficult to stop regardless of where the fight takes place. Only Vanttinen and Stjepan Bekavac finished him with strikes, and only Pokrajac and Khalidov submitted him. Everyone else had to settle for decisions and Jotko only managed to edge him with a split verdict.

Billstein has his work cut out for him. He’s been accustomed to removing opponents from consciousness, but he’s struggled to make that happen as he’s stepped up against tougher competition. Getting back to the basics of fighting in Germany should help him, but it might not be enough. Zawada is a tough opponent and won’t go down easy. However, Billstein has never lost via strikes, so Zawada won’t have an easy time earning a stoppage either. Zawada will create a headache for Billstein that lasts for the duration of this bout. It’ll be a nailbiter on the judges’ scorecards, but Billstein should do just enough to edge out Zawada.

Other key bouts: Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-2) vs. Florent Betorangal (13-6), Marcin Naruszczka (12-2) vs. Abu Azaitar (6-2), Roman Kapranov (5-1) vs. Sebastian Risch (10-4), Andreas Kraniotakes (16-7-1) vs. Dritan Barjamaj (10-4) for the heavyweight title, Abusupiyan Magomedov (9-1) vs. Rafal Moks (7-6) for the welterweight title

Photo: Thomas de Almeida (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)