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…

Legacy Fighting Championship 30

Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, N.M.
Event Date: April 4
Website: legacyfights.net
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @legacyfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Holly Holm (6-0) vs. Juliana Werner (7-3)

Holly Holm’s name has been in the news lately for her stalled negotiations with the UFC. This week, though, her name will make headlines for a different reason. That’s because the former boxer is taking to the cage again, and this time it’s for the gold. “The Preacher’s Daughter” is back in her familiar stomping grounds of Albuquerque N.M., for her Legacy Fighting Championship 30 encounter with fellow ranked fighter Juliana Werner. The two ladies will vie for the Legacy women’s bantamweight crown.

Holm is 33-2-3 as a pro boxer and is an 18-time world champion across three weight divisions. Before making the move to MMA, she was widely recognized as the top female boxer in the world. Her kickboxing and boxing background have accounted for much of her MMA success thus far. The Jackson’s MMA fighter made her pro debut in 2011 and won her first two fights in that calendar year. She didn’t fight in 2012, but returned in 2013 with four more wins, including one in the Bellator cage and two under the Legacy banner. Her most recent outing went the distance, and Holm emerged with the unanimous nod. The biggest name on the Albuquerque native’s resume is Jan Finney, a fighter who now stands at 8-10, and the majority of Holm’s opponents sit at or below the .500 mark. This makes Juliana Werner, a ranked flyweight, the toughest test to date for the 32-year-old Holm.

Werner is moving up to bantamweight for the fight after residing in the 125-pound division. The Brazilian went 2-3 through her first five fights, but all of those losses came to a single fighter, Vanessa Porto. In 2005, Porto welcomed Werner to the pro ranks by handing her a first-round TKO loss. Werner rebounded to notch two wins, but then faced Porto twice in a row. Porto handed Werner two more losses, first via a 33-second arm-triangle choke and then by way of an 80-second arm-triangle choke. Werner bounced back with another win, but then went inactive for nearly five years. She returned in 2011 to win four straight, including one fight by way of knockout. The 32-year-old fights out of the Sigma Gym and has won four fights via strikes and three on the scorecards. Werner, like Holm, has a kickboxing background. She went 24-3 as a kickboxer and claimed six Brazilian and two South American championships.

The biggest criticism in Holm’s MMA career has been her choice of competition. She has been accused of avoiding the tough fights. Although Werner checks in as a top-10 or top-15 fighter, she does so at a weight class 10 pounds lighter than the one in which she meets Holm. Though Werner may stand as the toughest test yet for Holm, there’s sure to be criticism of Holm if she wins and plenty of naysayers who will take joy in a negative outcome for the former boxing champ if she loses.

As much as MMA fans like to point to a 10-pound weight difference and say that’s everything, it’s probably not going to make quite the difference here that it would in a grappling-heavy affair. Unless Holm’s coaching staff decides that this is the time for Holm to show her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu chops or Werner takes a similar approach in an effort to exploit the weakness in Holm’s game, this is likely to turn into an entertaining kickboxing showdown between two talented strikers.

Both women have the ability to score big knockouts, but Holm has to be considered the more efficient finisher and technical striker. She doesn’t tend to stand still for very long inside the cage and uses her length to her benefit to keep opponents on the outside, where she can deliver kicks to the body and head. Werner, meanwhile, likes to throw knees from the clinch and move forward with flurries of winging punches. That could be the Brazilian’s ultimate undoing. As long as Holm can keep separation and look for the counter, she should find success. Werner will get sloppy in throwing her punches, and that’s when Holm will land the fight-ending knockout blow.

Other key bouts: Donald Sanchez (29-13) vs. Flavio Alvaro (45-10), Ray Borg (5-0) vs. Nick Urso (7-1), Enrique Briones (13-4) vs. Adrian Cruz (5-1), Martin Sano (3-0) vs. Clint Roberts (4-2), Lenny Lovato (8-2) vs. Kamarudeen Usman (3-1)

M-1 Challenge 47

Orenburzhye Sport Hall in Orenburg, Russia
Event Date: April 4
Website: m-1global.com
Watch Event: Russia 2 (Russia), m-1global.tv
Twitter: @OfficialM1

Spotlight Fight:
Marcin Tybura (9-0) vs. Maro Perak (23-3)

Talented heavyweights are hard to find outside of the UFC. In the 47th edition of its M-1 Challenge series, however, M-1 Global has found two—veteran Maro Perak and undefeated prospect Marcin Tybura. The promotion is showcasing the pair of heavyweights on a card that also features a featherweight title showdown and the promotional debut of former Cage Warriors champion Ivan Buchinger.

Perak has been fighting professionally since 2005, yet he has suffered just three losses through 26 fights. The Croatian’s defeats have come against arguably the three best opponents he has met in his career—Jan Blachowicz, Jordan Radev and Jeff Monson. Blachowicz is a recent UFC signee, and Radev and Monson have had stints in the top promotion as well. Blachowicz stopped Perak via submission, whereas the other two men bested the 31-year-old on the scorecards (Radev, though, just eked by Perak with a split verdict). Perak has seven submission wins, but one came via strikes. He also has 12 victories by some form of knockout.

Tybura is the 2013 M-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix winner. The 28-year-old hails from Poland and made his pro debut in 2011. He has finished seven of his nine opponents, including veteran Konstantin Gluhov in his most recent outing. Tybura has three wins via TKO and four by way of submission. The United Gym product is a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner.

Perak has turned from prospect into veteran gatekeeper, but he has only fought three times in the last three years. One of those contests came against Bob Sapp, but Perak’s credibility is helped by the fact that he was able to edge Travis Wiuff via a split decision. When he was more active, Perak defeated Miodrag Petkovic on two separate occasions. Though he still holds an impressive winning percentage, his lack of activity in recent years is reason for concern. However, the biggest question here is whether Tybura is a legitimate heavyweight or just another inflated prospect. The former seems to be the answer. This is a decorated grappler who won the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix and defeated Gluhov in under five minutes.

Perak is going to be tough to finish, but Tybura does have the grappling chops to threaten Perak if this fight hits the canvas. The prospect is also well-rounded enough to get the win on the scorecards. Tybura will outwork Perak to take the judges’ nod.

Other key bouts: Ivan Buchinger (25-4) vs. Sergey Golyaev (23-10), Marat Gafurov (8-0) vs. Lee Morrison (13-3) for the M-1 featherweight title, Jeff Monson (49-17-1) vs. Chaban Ka (6-3-1), Julien Williams (4-1) vs. Rasul Abdulaev (3-0), Luis Fernando Miranda (11-1) vs. Vasily Babich (10-3)


Copper Box Arena in London
Event Date: April 5
Website: bamma.com
Watch Event: 5* (United Kingdom), ESPN3 (USA), The Fight Network (Canada), Sony (Russia), Setanta (Africa), KIX (Asia), Abu Dhabi TV (Middle East), Extreme Sports Channel (Europe), Transylvania Media (Romania). Live stream available online at Facebook/BAMMAUK.
Twitter: @bammauk

Spotlight Fight:
Ali Arish (20-2) vs. Ryan Scope (8-0)

Cage Warriors, thanks to its frequent fight cards and roster of talent, has taken center stage in the world of British MMA, but fans shouldn’t overlook BAMMA, the other major British MMA promotion. BAMMA may not host as many events as Cage Warriors, but the promotion does house an equally intriguing roster of talent. The promotion’s 15th offering showcases top featherweights Tom Duquesnoy and Teddy Violet competing for the BAMMA featherweight crown, The Ultimate Fighter alum Colin Fletcher and welterweight prospects Wayne Murrie and Leon Edwards battling for the Lonsdale British welterweight title, but it’s the welterweight contest between Ali Arish and Ryan Scope that stands out as the most riveting contest in the lineup.

Arish is an Iranian-born fighter who now resides in the United Kingdom, where he trains with the Moss Side GnP camp. He made his professional debut in 2009 and went 11-2 through his first 13 fights. His most recent loss came in April 2011, and Arish has rebounded with a nine-fight winning streak. His current streak includes wins over Jack Mason, Matt Inman and reigning Lonsdale British welterweight champion Murrie. Arish was expected to meet Murrie in a rematch of an OMMAC bout that Arish won via knockout, but Arish was forced to withdraw with an injury. Arish is a wrestler who will not hesitate to go for takedowns, but his record includes an almost even amount of knockout wins (five) as submissions (six). He has notched nine wins on the judges’ scorecards.

The 22-year-old Scope is among the new breed of mixed martial artist in terms of his well-rounded skill set. His martial arts training extends back to when he was just 10 years old, and he has trained in a diverse set of disciplines, beginning with jiu-jitsu and boxing. A representative of the Sunderland Fight Pit and the Unity Gym in England, “Big Baby” also makes the trek to San Diego to train at the Alliance Training Center. Scope made his pro debut in 2008 at the age of 17 and has not lost in eight pro appearances. He was out for over a year with a serious ACL injury and has only fought twice since the end of 2011. Only his pro debut went the distance, and he has seen the second round on just two occasions. Scope has recorded four submission wins and three TKO victories.

This fight is Scope’s chance to make a major impression, whether it be within BAMMA or with the UFC. Arish is a competitor on the verge of a title bid inside the promotion, but he’s almost certainly on UFC matchmaker Joe Silva’s radar as well. Arish is going to hunt for takedowns, whereas Scope is more likely to want this fight to take place on the feet.

Arish’s experience and level of competition marks him as the favorite. He has 14 more fights under his belt and his wins over the likes of Murrie and Mason prove that he can hang with the region’s other top prospects. Scope is just getting to that level. Beyond his submission of Luke Newman, “Big Baby” has been fed a steady diet of .500/sub-.500 fighters. Scope has a lot to prove, and Arish may force him to present that proof off his back. That’s not a scenario that works to Scope’s favor. The 22-year-old is young and will continue to develop into a top prospect from the British region, but this won’t be his night. Wrestling will be the key to the decision win for Arish in this affair.

Other key bouts: Oli Thompson (12-5) vs. Gzim Selmani (3-1), Colin Fletcher (9-4) vs. Tony Hervey (16-15), Tom Duquesnoy (8-1) vs. Teddy Violet (8-0) for the featherweight title, Wayne Murrie (17-5-1) vs. Leon Edwards (5-1) for the British welterweight title, Harry McLeman (6-2) vs. Andy De-Vent (10-8), Rany Saadeh (5-1) vs. Mahmood Besharate (5-0), Jack Grant (6-0) vs. Jefferson George (3-2), Alex Montagnani (5-1-1) vs. Nathan Jones (4-1), Nathaniel Wood (4-0) vs. Ed Arthur (2-0), Andy Craven (3-0) vs. Richard Edwards (0-0)