Every Thursday, The MMA Corner will take a look at three regional, developmental 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, developmental 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…

West Coast Fighting Championship 9

McClellan Conference Center in Sacramento, Calif.
Event Date: April 26
Website: westcoastfighting.com
Watch Event: live pay-per-view stream on Competitive Fighting Sports
Twitter: @WFC_MMA

Spotlight Fight:
David Mitchell (13-4) vs. Jaime Jara (36-16)

If there’s one simple fact in MMA, it’s that success can be hard to find. Sometimes, it can takes years of grinding away on the regional circuit. Some fighters even find their way to the big show, only to get knocked back down to the smaller shows. The headlining affair of West Coast Fighting Championship 9, pitting middleweight Jaime Jara against David Mitchell, illustrates this perfectly.

Mitchell is just one fight removed from his stint in the Octagon. The Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance product made his pro debut in 2006 and shot out to an 11-0 start, including a four-fight run under the Tachi Palace banner that resulted in victories over War Machine, Bobby Green, Tim McKenzie and Poppies Martinez. In 2010, he made his UFC debut, but it didn’t go so well. Mitchell dropped a unanimous verdict to TJ Waldburger. He remained with the promotion for four more fights, but found victory on just one occasion. Among his losses, Mitchell fell on the scorecards to Yan Cabral and Paulo Thiago. He was also on the receiving end of a TKO courtesy of Mike Pierce. Since parting ways with the UFC, the 34-year-old has picked up a win under the West Coast FC banner. It marked his first TKO win, following a career filled with submission victories.

Jara is the grizzled veteran in this affair. “El Cucui” first set foot in the cage in 2002. Between 2002 and late 2010, he built up a 29-7 mark and made several appearances with ShoXC, EliteXC’s forebearer to what would become the Strikeforce Challengers series. His resume from that span included losses to Scott Smith (twice), Rashad Evans and Doug Marshall and wins over Anthony Ruiz (thrice), Giva Santana and Tim Means. Since December 2010, however, the Carnage Fight Team product has had a rockier road. He’s made stops in Bellator and Tachi Palace Fights, but he has gone just 7-8 through 15 fights. He still managed to top Justin Baesman, but many of his other wins in that stretch came against fighters on the wrong side of the .500 mark. Meanwhile, Baesman was able to avenge the loss and Jara also dropped fights to the likes of Max Griffin, Nate Loughran, Jay Silva, Waachiim Spiritwolf, Michail Tsarev and John Salter.

There’s no doubt that Jara is one tough fighter. He has 19 submission wins and 14 victories by some form of knockout, but he has also suffered seven knockout losses and two submission defeats, plus seven losses on the scorecards. His recent rollercoaster ride of wins and losses doesn’t bode well for his chances against a former prospect like Mitchell, whose only defeats came inside the UFC’s Octagon.

This fight should continue Mitchell’s rebound from a forgettable UFC run. Jara is an aging veteran whose best days are behind him. “El Cucui” will put up a good fight, but Mitchell will find the submission sooner or later to extend his winning streak to two fights.

Other key bouts: Dominic Clark (6-2) vs. Ousmane Thomas Diagne (4-3) for the lightweight title, Joe Neal (2-0) vs. Khomkrit Niimi (5-5), Jordan Powell (3-1) vs. Dominic Pica (2-0)

XFC International 4

Rede TV! television studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: April 26
Website: xfcmma.com
Watch Event: Rede TV! in Brazil and live stream worldwide at xfcmma.com
Twitter: @OfficialXFC

Spotlight Fight:
Kevin Medinilla (4-0) vs. Pedro Junior (8-0)

Just three shows into its run, XFC International has certainly impressed. The promotion is in the midst of its inaugural set of tournaments, and it has also managed to book some intriguing non-tourney bouts as well. For its fourth effort, XFCi offers up the promotional debut of UFC and WSOF veteran Waylon Lowe, the return of female strawweight star Kalindra Faria and continues to progress its season tournaments with semifinal-round action. The card features a large number of fighters with standout records, but only one bout, the welterweight tourney semifinal between Kevin Medinilla and Pedro Junior, holds the distinction of including two undefeated fighters.

Medinilla is an Argentine fighter competing out of his nation’s branch of Nova Uniao. He made his debut in late 2012 and racked up three submission wins in four months. He made his promotional debut at XFCi 2 in the quarterfinal round of the welterweight tournament. He earned a unanimous decision over Alessandro Gambulino to secure his spot in the semis. Medinilla’s three stoppage wins came against opponents whose records now stand at the .500 mark, and the combined record of all his opponents thus far sits at 8-6. He has strong wrestling, good transitions and is patient in waiting for a submission opportunity to open up.

Chute Boxe’s Pedro Junior has as many victories as all of Medinilla’s previous opponents combined, but he still sports a zero in the loss column. He has topped a few prospects in his eight-fight run, but he’s also seen some fighters with severe losing marks. Junior tends to throw a lot of kicks and unorthodox strikes, but he has two submission victories to accompany his five knockout wins. He submitted Erick Montano at XFCi 2 to advance to the semifinal round.

This is a battle between a striker and a grappler, but the striker has demonstrated a more well-rounded game. Junior has excellent takedown defense, but he isn’t afraid to throw kicks. Medinilla might be able to take advantage of this tendency to score takedowns, but Junior’s speed and athleticism should help him to maintain his footing and scramble away from Medinilla. Medinilla isn’t remotely as technical or crisp of a striker as Junior, and he lacks power. His takedowns from the outside worked against low-level adversaries, but he’ll have a difficult time victimizing Junior in the same way.

Junior should have little problem dominating Medinilla in the stand-up game. He’ll have to utilize range to avoid Medinilla’s takedown attempts and perhaps counter with knees as the Argentine fighter shoots in for Junior’s legs. If the Brazilian can stuff a takedown and end up on top, he has the tools to finish the fight. Junior’s ground-and-pound attack delivers a ton of damage, and he’s competent in the grappling department, which should help him to avoid any submission attempts Medinilla throws up from the bottom.

Junior’s power and his striking arsenal should be enough to overwhelm Medinilla. Junior will maintain his unblemished record with a TKO victory. He’ll move on to the finals, where he’ll meet the winner of the other welterweight semifinal bout between Will Galvao and Cairo Rocha.

Other key bouts: Waylon Lowe (14-5) vs. Marcos Rodrigues Dos Santos (21-11-1), Kalindra Faria (14-3-1) vs. Sanja Sucevic (4-2), Will Galvao (3-1) vs. Cairo Rocha (10-3) in a welterweight tournament semifinal bout, Alejandro Villalobos (15-3) vs. Bruno Canetti (4-3) in a featherweight tournament semifinal bout, Alan dos Santos (12-1) vs. Glaucio Eliziario (3-0) in a lightweight tournament semifinal bout, Miguel Angelo Gentilini (6-0) vs. Thiago Rela (7-2) in a middleweight tournament semifinal bout, Gilson Lomanto (9-2) vs. Natan Schulte (7-2) in a lightweight tournament semifinal bout, Alberto Pereira Uda (5-0) vs. Christiano Frohlich (4-1) in a middleweight tournament semifinal bout, Felipe Douglas (9-1) vs. Luiz Andre Arcanjo Siqueira (4-0) in a featherweight tournament semifinal bout

Deep 66 Impact

Differ Ariake in Tokyo
Event Date: April 29
Website: deep2001.com
Twitter: @deep_official

Spotlight Fight:
Satoru Kitaoka (32-13-9) vs. Naoto Miyazaki (10-2-3)

Not all MMA happens on the weekend. Deep’s latest effort, Deep 66 Impact, takes place mid-week, on a Tuesday. The card is strong enough to warrant inclusion in this feature, however. Topping the lineup is a the first title defense for lightweight champion Satoru Kitaoka. Kitaoka puts his belt on the line against challenger Naoto Miyazaki.

Kitaoka captured the Deep crown in April 2013 with a unanimous decision victory over Daisuke Nakamura, but the former Sengoku champ has yet to defend the title. Instead, he ventured back to his old stomping grounds of Pancrase for the promotion’s 20th anniversary show, where he submitted Dom O’Grady, and then headed to the Inoki Genome Federation for its year-end Bom-Ba-Ye 2013 event, where he suffered a knockout loss to Russian prospect Ramazan Esenbaev. The Japanese fighter and former Dream lightweight title contender is a decorated grappler who holds the rank of black belt in judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He tends to be aggressive in seeking the takedown. His approach has led to 16 submission victories and 16 decision wins. He has also dropped eight decisions and fought to nine draws. The 34-year-old has been stopped via strikes on five occasions, so his chin is suspect.

Miyazaki has two losses on his record, but that statistic is misleading. Both of those defeats came by way of disqualification. First, in his 2008 pro debut, Miyazaki landed a low blow against Junichi Ota that brought an end to the fight. Just over three years later, the pair rematched, and Miyazaki again delivered a shot to the groin that left Ota to be taken out of the ring on a stretcher. Take away those two unfortunate incidents, and Miyazaki is left with 10 wins, including three by some form of knockout and three via submission, and three draws. The 30-year-old is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak.

Kitaoka has had his ups and downs since winning the Sengoku belt. He’s gone 8-5 in the five years since defeating Takanori Gomi for the championship. In that span, though, he has fought a number of top-tier Japanese opponents and a few international foes to boot. His losses have come against the likes of Shinya Aoki, Jorge Masvidal, Will Brooks, Mizuto Hirota and the aforementioned Esenbaev. Meanwhile, he has notched victories over Nakamura, O’Grady, Katsunori Kikuno and Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire. Meanwhile, Miyazaki has faced a mixed bag of competition that includes veterans on both sides of the .500 mark.

The biggest concern for Kitaoka has to be his chin. He’s never been finished on the mat, though he can be outworked to a decision. But in the striking realm, he’s been put out via TKO by Hirota and Brooks and KO against Masvidal and Esenbaev. If Miyazaki can connect, there’s a chance he can leave Kitaoka staring at the lights. If Kitaoka’s chin holds up, he still has an uphill battle in finishing Miyazaki. However, he could certainly outwork the challenger en route to a decision victory.

Kitaoka has only lost back-to-back outings on one occasion in his long career. He has faced a far superior level of competition and has found success more often than not. Using his high-pressure grappling attack and avoiding the stand-up game. Kitaoka will find his way back into the win column with a successful defense of the title against Miyazaki.

Other key bouts: Kazunori Yokota (19-5-3) vs. Katsunori Tsuda (8-2-1) for the featherweight title, Yoshiyuki Nakanishi (13-3) vs. Shunsuke Inoue (14-7-2) for the light heavyweight title, Yuta Watanabe (17-5-4) vs. Taisuke Okuno (12-7-2) for the welterweight title, Kenji Osawa (20-10-2) vs. Takafumi Otsuka (16-12-1) for the bantamweight title, Masanori Kanehara (23-10-5) vs. Toshiaki Kitada (15-7-4), Mizuto Hirota (14-7-1) vs. Daisuke Nakamura (27-14), Sota Kojima (13-4-4) vs. Kota Ishibashi (4-7), Michito Abe (9-3) vs. Ken Saotome (6-4-3)