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…

Coliseu Extreme Fight X

Alagoas SESI Gymnasium in Maceio, Alagoas, Brazil
Event Date: May 29
Website: facebook.com/coliseuef
Twitter: @ColiseuEF

Spotlight Fight:
Leandro Higo (13-2) vs. Giovanni Soldado (14-1)

Just nine events into its run, Coliseu Extreme Fight has established itself among the leading promotions in Brazil. That’s due in large part to the promotion’s lighter weight divisions. Now, at the promotion’s 10th offering, it serves up a superfight of sorts. Leandro Higo has left the bantamweight division and Coliseu gold behind in order to move to flyweight and challenge for another belt. That title is currently held by Giovanni Soldado.

Soldado is best known to U.S. fans for his stint on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, where he lost via armbar to John “Macapa” Teixeira in the elimination round. Unlike most Brazilians, Soldado’s base is wrestling. The Hikari product has worked his way to four submission wins and five victories by some form of knockout. The 27-year-old debuted in 2006 with a submission loss, but he has not lost since, at least in non-exhibition contests. Soldado, a former Demo Fight bantamweight champion, competed exclusively as a 135-pounder prior to appearing on The Ultimate Fighter as a featherweight and entering Coliseu as a flyweight.

If not for visa issues, Higo could have become the successor to Zach Makovsky as the Resurrection Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. Now, the former bantamweight has his sights set on the Coliseu title instead. Higo, who trains alongside Rony Jason and the Freire brothers, was actually a flyweight before bulking up to 135 pounds in search of more fight opportunities. The 25-year-old made his pro debut in 2006 and won his first seven fights, including a 39-second submission of top flyweight Jose Maria Tome, before suffering a TKO loss. He bounced back with two more victories before dropping a decision to Iliarde Santos. He is currently riding a four-fight winning streak. Higo has notched eight of his victories by way of submission.

This should be an entertaining fight that features a little bit of everything. In his last outing, Higo demonstrated strong takedowns and excellent grappling. Soldado may be a wrestler, but Higo should be able to match him in that department. Meanwhile, Soldado is probably the better striker.

Expect to see a lot of scrambles and reversed positions between these two men. Both are excellent at landing the takedown, but neither man is perfect in avoiding sweeps or reversals. Soldado has also struggled to avoid submissions, and that weakness could be his undoing in this encounter. Whether Higo scores the takedown or has to sweep into top position, he’ll find a way to gain the advantage and notch the win via submission.

Other key bouts: Joao Paulo Rodrigues de Souza (34-17-2) vs. Marcelo Palombo de Souza (6-2) for the featherweight title, KarlMarx Mazoni (3-0) vs. Marcus Paulo Amaral (4-0) for the strawweight title, Francisco de Lima Maciel (8-2-1) vs. Eduardo de Souza Silva (7-2) for the bantamweight title, Paulo Goncalves Silva (19-9) vs. Jorge Rodrigues Silva (35-8) for the lightweight title, Alex Cowboy (6-1-1) vs. Rogerio Matias de Conceicao (8-2) for the welterweight title, Tiago Varejao Lacerda (21-2) vs. Edvaldo de Oliveira (30-16) for the middleweight title, Kleber Orgulho (11-5) vs. Jackson Goncalves (4-1) for the light heavyweight title, Vinicius Lima (7-2) vs. Leonardo Augusto Guimaraes (8-1) for the heavyweight title

MMA Super Heroes 4

Hebraica Club in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: May 30
Website: facebook.com/MmaSuperHeroes
Twitter: @mmasuperheroes

Spotlight Fight:
Guilherme Faria (11-5) vs. Dioginis Souza (6-0)

MMA Super Heroes returns with its fourth installment. The event is a showcase for Leandro “Buscape” Silva, who fights Lindeclecio Oliveira Batista in the evening’s featured bout. Although Buscape stands as an intriguing prospect, his match-up with Batista is a far less competitive affair than the clash between Guilherme Faria and Dioginis Souza.

Faria is a Muay Thai world champion who made his pro MMA debut in 2008, when he was just 16 years old. Now, he’s a 16-fight veteran at the age of 22. Faria’s career got off to a rough start, with three submission losses. The Team Nikolai MMA product has turned things around, however, by going 11-2 over his last 13 outings. He’s still vulnerable to submissions, though. His most recent loss came in the fourth round of a bout against UFC veteran Junior Assuncao. He does have two submission wins, but his preference is to finish opponents via strikes, as he has done on six occasions.

Faria’s 23-year-old counterpart, Souza, has yet to taste defeat. The Power Lotus Team fighter debuted in December 2012 and quickly compiled a six-fight winning streak. Four of his wins came via armbar, and he also finished one opponent via TKO. The combined record of his opponents stands at 9-16, and he has only faced one fighter at or above the .500 mark. Souza can be lethal off his back with his armbar attempts.

The highlight reel of Faria’s knockout wins is truly impressive, and Souza, despite his “Overeem” moniker, will be easily outclassed on the feet. If Souza can take Faria to the mat or Faria makes the mistake of dumping Souza to the ground and following him there, then this fight takes on a whole new dimension. In other words, the crucial element in this battle is where it takes place. Faria’s Muay Thai can be devastating, but he’s not always able to fend off submission attempts. If Souza can’t score a takedown, though, Faria can tee off on his older opponent.

Souza only found the finish against his last opponent, a now 2-3 fighter named Claudio Quintana Nadal, when the Chilean scored a big takedown and surrendered his arm to “Overeem.” Prior to Nadal’s takedown, Souza was content to stand and throw jabs and leg kicks. His previous armbar win against Cicero Gardenal was much of the same. Souza is not a fighter who tends to change levels and shoot for a single- or double-leg takedown. He’s usually willing to stand with his opponents, though he might opt to adjust that strategy based on Faria’s striking credentials.

Despite Souza’s lanky 6-foot-1 frame, which should give him a significant reach and height edge over the 5-foot-8 Faria, Souza would be nuts to trade blows with a world-class striker. His style of running forward for the leg kick while dropping his hands slightly will leave him exposed to Faria’s counters, and even when he’s in the pocket delivering combinations, Souza tends to leave big openings that the faster Faria could easily use to land a knockout blow.

Souza knows how to grapple, but thus far he has used those skills from his back against unsuspecting opponents. He hasn’t demonstrated a monstrous takedown game, so it’s likely that Faria will be able to stuff his shots and answer back with a barrage of strikes. And that’s assuming that Souza doesn’t just engage in a firefight with Faria.

Unless Faria makes a mistake and ends up on the mat with Souza, there’s a high probability that the Muay Thai practitioner hands Souza his first career loss via knockout.

Other key bouts: Leandro “Buscape” Silva (14-1-1) vs. Lindeclecio Oliveira Batista (5-3), Felix Almeida Ferreira (3-1) vs. Ricardo Seixas (1-0), Felipe Cuscianna (3-0) vs. Eduardo Diez (3-0), Renata Baldan (2-0) vs. Maristela Costa (0-0),

North American Fighting Championship: MegaBrawl

BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee
Event Date: May 31
Website: nafc.tv
Twitter: @NAFCFights

Spotlight Fight:
Sam Alvey (22-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (19-7)

Most fighters would take a break after a successful title defense. They might go on vacation, even. But not MFC middleweight champion Sam Alvey. The “Smilin” one is barely three weeks removed from his fourth-round knockout victory over Wes Swofford in the MFC ring, and yet he’s already back in action. This time, he’s headlining the NAFC’s latest venture opposite veteran fighter Gerald Meerschaert.

Alvey has been a busy fighter since his 2008 debut. The Ultimate Fighter 16 alum has made stops in the MFC and Bellator en route to accumulating 22 wins in 28 outings. The Team Quest fighter, who is often cornered by his model wife, McKey Sullivan, has won three of his four fights under the MFC banner since the conclusion of his stint on reality television. His loss came on the scorecards in a five-round affair against Elvis Mutapcic, but Alvey rebounded with three straight wins and claimed—and defended—the middleweight crown in the process. Alvey’s fists have accounted for 14 of his stoppage wins. His fight with Meerschaert is a rematch of a 2010 bout in which Meerschaert captured a fifth-round submission victory.

Meerschaert may have defeated Alvey in 2010, but he has yet to go on to bigger and better things. Whereas Alvey followed the loss with an 11-3 run, a reality show appearance and MFC gold, Meerschaert managed a less impressive 6-3 mark and continued to frequent smaller regional shows such as Rocktagon MMA, Wild Bill’s Fight Night and the NAFC. He has appeared under the Score Fighting Series and King of the Cage banners, but he went just 1-1 in those appearances. The Wisconsin-based fighter has tasted defeat at the hands of Herbert Goodman, Sergej Juskevic and Anthony Lapsley in recent years. The Roufusport product is a grappler who has claimed 14 of his wins by way of submission.

The interesting aspect of this fight isn’t just that Meerschaert holds a previous win over Alvey. Alvey had suffered three prior losses before meeting Meerschaert and dropped an additional fight since facing Meerschaert. The difference, however, is that Meerschaert remains the only fighter to have ever finished Alvey. That’s certainly a significant accomplishment, but both fighters have progressed since their first meeting.

Alvey has found consistency in his striking attack, and it has carried him to a number of big wins. However, he still has a tendency to get tagged in fights and he can show up flat on occasion. He’s coming off a short turnaround, and that could also factor into his performance. In their first fight, Alvey spent a lot of time simply waiting to throw counters. He could end up doing the same in this fight, but it’s more likely that he’ll establish his jab early on. He was able to stuff a majority of Meerschaert’s takedowns, and the Roufusport fighter is going to have to work hard to not only get Alvey to the mat, but also to keep him there.

Neither of these fighters is the picture of consistency. Alvey barely managed a split verdict over Jason Guida in the Bellator cage and lost his elimination-round fight on The Ultimate Fighter 16, and Meerschaert’s 1-3 stretch does nothing to instill confidence in his ability to put on a repeat of his first performance against Alvey. Alvey’s knockout power has been on display recently, but Meerschaert has only lost via submission.

With only three rounds of action on the docket, Meerschaert won’t have as much time to execute his strategy of working toward a submission. He only caught Alvey in the fight-ending guillotine choke with 50 seconds left in their previous five-round affair. He’ll shoot for takedowns at every turn, but Alvey’s going to stuff a majority of those attempts. Alvey will need to increase his offensive output from the first fight, or else he’ll emerge on the wrong side of the scorecards. The MFC champ probably won’t be able to knock out Meerschaert, but he should be able to press the action more this time around. Alvey will eke out the decision.

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