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…

Brazilian King Fighter 3

Paulo Sarasate Gymnasium in Fortaleza, Brazil
Event Date: Nov. 7
Website: Facebook/BkfFortaleza

Spotlight Fight:
Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire (25-6) vs. Paulo “Guerreiro” Dantas (24-8-1)

Much like Vale Tudo Japan, Brazilian King Fighter only puts on the occasional event. When the promotion does host fights, however, it delivers a card lines with significant names from the regional Brazilian circuit. In its third offering, that list of names includes Paulo “Guerreiro” Dantas and UFC veteran Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire. The two seasoned vets meet in a lightweight title clash.

The 38-year-old Dantas has fought reigning UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao, UFC fighter Hacran Dias, Bellator veteran Patricio Freire and current BKF welterweight kingpin Carlos Alexandre Pereira. He’s also fought Chiquerim before. Unfortunately for the veteran, all of those fights ended in defeat. Dantas does hold wins over Jason Dent and Diego Saraiva. He tends to be a striker, though he does have five submission wins. On the flipside of the coin, half of his eight losses have also come by submission. Dantas’ submission losses have come against some of the cream of the crop competition he’s faced—an arm-triangle choke versus Hacran Dias, a heel hook at the hands of Patricio Freire and a rear-naked choke courtesy of Chiquerim.

Chiquerim was once a highly touted champion under the Shooto Brazil banner with a 24-3 record. That resume garnered the Nova Uniao product a ticket to the UFC. In his lone Octagon appearance, Chiquerim lost via unanimous decision against Waylon Lowe. The Brazilian followed that up with a split decision defeat versus Satoru Kitaoka in Dream, then claimed a win at the very first Brazilian King Fighter event before going dormant for more than a year. Upon his return to action in August 2013, Freire fell via TKO against Joao Luiz Nogueira in a rubber match of a trilogy in which Nogueira took two out of three fights. That leaves Chiquerim with just one win in his last four outings. The 26-year-old has 10 wins via submission and eight by way of some form of knockout. He has been finished by strikes just once in his career and succumbed to submissions on two occasions.

These two lightweights are veterans of the game, with each sporting more than 30 fights on their records. Dantas made his pro debut in 2001 and Chiquerim made his in 2002, but roughly 12 years separate these guys in terms of age. Their previous encounter came in a 2007 bout that saw Chiquerim take the win with a third-round rear-naked choke.

Since 2011, Chiquerim has struggled to find his hand raised. Dantas, meanwhile, is 7-2-1 over his last 10 fights, though he has been out of action since the last Brazilian King Fighter event just over a year ago. The times have changed and momentum has shifted away from Chiquerim. Has it shifted enough to allow Dantas to take the win? Possibly, but don’t count on it.

Dantas has gained a lot of experience since their first match-up that should better allow him to combat Chiquerim’s submission attempts. However, combating those attempts successfully for a full fight might prove difficult. Chiquerim should enjoy a size advantage and will still be able to get Dantas to the mat, where he finished him in their previous encounter and where he’ll do so again in this rematch.

Other key bouts: Carlos Alexandre Pereira (31-10-1) vs. Marinho Rocha (27-6) for the welterweight title, Jamil Silveira da Conceicao (39-15-1) vs. David Mendes (7-2), Francisco Mario “Pimba” Marinho (23-4) vs. Renan Santos (8-4)

Extreme Fighting Championship Africa 25

GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World in Cape Town, South Africa
Event Date: Nov. 7
Website: efcafrica.com
Watch Event: Live via pay-per-view stream at efcafrica.tv. Live main card on television networks SuperSport World of Champions (Africa), Fight Now! TV (U.S., Canada and Caribbean) and ABu Dhabi TV (Middle East and North Africa).

Spotlight Fight:
Gideon Drotschie (4-0) vs. Fraser Opie (11-5)

Africa is not a continent that is known as a hotbed for MMA, but EFC Africa is trying to change that. The promotion has made a habit of hosting events that feature a number of prospects and the occasional veteran. For its 25th offering, the promotion has lined up two title fights. One is a lightweight contest pitting champion Don Madge against veteran Leon Mynhardt. The other is a light heavyweight title tilt that has undefeated prospect Gideon Drotschie putting his belt on the line against veteran Fraser Opie.

Opie has a kickboxing background. “The Omen” made his professional debut in 2009 and alternated wins and losses through his first six fights before finally winning back-to-back bouts. The BST Northampton fighter is 8-2 over his last 10 fights and is on a four-fight winning streak. He possesses a win over UFC vet Ivan Salaverry, though it came via disqualification. He avenged the first loss of his career by submitting Dan Edwards in a bout in 2012. Opie has an aggressive ground-and-pound attack and has scored six wins by some form of knockouts. He also has three submission victories. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old has suffered all of his losses via first-round submission, including four by way of a choke. Opie participated in The Ultimate Fighter 17, but dropped a decision to Clint Hester in the preliminary fights.

Drotschie played rugby in his youth and didn’t get into MMA until 2010. He trains out of Rico Hattingh’s MMA Academy and has a well-rounded skill set that has led to two submission wins and two TKO victories. The 6-foot-1 fighter initially competed in the heavyweight division, but dropped to light heavyweight after two pro bouts. The best opponents Drotschie has faced thus far hold current marks of 2-1 and 6-6. The “Juggernaut” captured gold in his most recent outing with a third-round submission win over Danie van Heerden.

Opie is a strong fighter with a lot of experience, but he’s been inconsistent. He’ll win fights against mid-level talents, as he has done in his current streak, but lose to fighters with records below the .500 mark. Drotschie has trained under Hattingh, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and tends to use his ground assault to great effect.

The deciding factor here is most likely in who can end up in top position on the mat. Drotschie won’t want to stand with a kickboxer, so he’ll look for takedowns early in the fight. On the mat, Opie may have a dangerous ground-and-pound attack, but he’ll also need to contend with Drotschie’s submissions. Furthermore, Drotschie likely has the edge in takedown ability. Considering that Opie has suffered all of his losses by way of submission, look for Drotschie to target Opie’s neck and limbs. This one ends in a submission win for Drotschie.

Other key bouts: Don Madge (3-1) vs. Leon Mynhardt (10-6) for the lightweight title, Sean Robinson (3-1) vs. Chris du Pont (3-1)

Pacific Xtreme Combat 41

Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig, Philippines
Event Date: Nov. 9
Website: pacificxtremecombat.com
Watch Event: live stream on Facebook
Twitter: @PXCPhilippines

Spotlight Fight:
Ale Cali (5-1) vs. Louis Smolka (4-0)

The UFC has only had a flyweight division since early 2012, and the depth of its roster of 125-pounders is still on the shallow side. That makes every high-level flyweight bout on the regional and international scene into a very compelling affair. Although Ale Cali and Louis Smolka need to further bolster their resumes before they get that all important phone call, they are a combined 9-1 and make for two extremely intriguing prospects within the division. Cali holds the Pacific Xtreme Combat flyweight title, and he’ll defend it against the undefeated Smolka at the promotion’s 41st effort.

Cali made his professional debut with a loss to Salvador Larozza in 2009. The Beefit Python’s Pit product rebounded with five straight wins, including four TKO stoppages. Cali’s background is firmly rooted in boxing. He entered the Philippine National Youth Games Batang Pinoy Championships when he was 12, won the National Amateur Boxing Championship flyweight crown in 2004 and tallied five wins and one loss while competing as a pro in 2007 and 2008. He joined the Beefit team in 2008 after the death of a mentor and trained in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Other than in his win against the now 12-5 Josh Alvarez, “The Young Gun” has fed on competition that sits at or below the .500 mark. It’s been approximately one year since Cali’s last fight.

Whereas Cali is a boxer, Smolka is a grappler. The Hawaiian is undefeated as a pro, but did lose via decision as an amateur. “Da Last Samurai” made his pro debut in October 2012 and has notched submission wins in all four of his pro outings. Smolka’s two most recent foes, both of whom succumbed to rear-naked chokes, were veterans with winning records. The 5-foot-9 fighter has competed as a bantamweight in the past and will enjoy a four-inch height advantage over Cali. Smolka, like Cali, is in his early 20s and started training in combat sports at a young age. He participated in karate, judo and wrestling in his youth and joined 808 Top Team at age 16, back when the camp was known as 808 Fight Factory.

The game plans for these two men seem completely obvious. Cali, the boxer, will want to keep the fight standing, whereas Smolka will look for the takedown from the opening bell. The 22-year-old Smolka is capable of taking punishment and battling through it to capture the win. He might be on the receiving end of some heavy blows on his feet before he gets this fight to the mat.

Cali is known for a unique stand-up style in which he shakes his hands and uses unorthodox footwork to confuse opponents. He’s mostly a boxer, but he has the ability to adjust his game and stop takedowns. However, he’s never fought someone with Smolka’s submission prowess and might not be able to make the necessary adjustments before the Hawaiian wraps him up in a submission.

Cali’s best asset is his striking, but he’ll be the shorter fighter in this contest and may have a hard time getting inside against Smolka. Smolka’s skill set is more well-rounded and should allow him to hold his own against the champ in striking exchanges, but it’s Smolka’s takedown ability and Cali’s takedown defense that make for the centerpiece in this affair. Smolka will eat punches, but he’ll plow through them in an effort to get the takedown. Once on the mat, Cali will be in real trouble. Smolka finishes Cali midway through the fight via submission.

Other key bouts: Mark Striegl (12-1) vs. Ev Ting (6-2), Frank Camacho (11-2) vs. Seung Hwan Bang (16-7)

Photo: Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire (Taro Irei/Sherdog)