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…

Legacy Fighting Championship 31

Arena Theatre in Houston
Event Date: June 13
Website: legacyfights.net
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @legacyfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Bubba Bush (7-2) vs. Alfonso Gonzales (5-0)

With Roger Narvaez off to the big show, Legacy Fighting Championship has inserted Alfonso Gonzales as the new challenger to Bubba Bush’s middleweight crown. The two clash for the title at Legacy’s 31st effort, which brings the promotion back to its base camp in Houston after an Albuquerque show that was more parts Fresquez Productions than it was Legacy, thanks to the inclusion of Holly Holm and Legacy’s decision to co-promote events with the management company/promoter who represents the former champion boxer.

Although he’s just now establishing himself as one of the promotion’s top stars, Bush has been a mainstay with the Texas-based organization since 2010. He made his pro debut in 2007 under Legacy predecessor Lonestar Beatdown. His sophomore effort came under the Legacy Promotions banner and each subsequent outing has taken place in the Legacy FC cage. Bush’s two losses came to Andrew Craig, who advanced to the UFC just two fights later, and middling journeyman Artenas Young. The 28-year-old’s TKO loss to Craig came in a failed bid for the middleweight crown, and the loss to Young came via disqualification due to illegal strikes. Bush captured the middleweight strap with a TKO victory over Larry Crowe and defended it with a submission of Rakim Cleveland. The Brazos Valley MMA and American Fight Company product has a background in wrestling and holds the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Despite his grappling skills, Bush has relied on his fists to end fights. He has just two submission victories, while boasting four wins by way of TKO.

Northwest Elite’s Gonzales steps in to replace Narvaez as Bush’s challenger. Gonzales debuted in February 2013 and quickly amassed a perfect record through five fights. He ended three of his first four bouts with first-round TKO finishes. He has also posted one submission stoppage. He saw the scorecards for the first time in his most recent outing, a majority decision over Jared Torgeson in early May.

Gonzales is a striker who tends to load up on his right hand. Bush’s wrestling and ground-and-pound attack should give Gonzales fits. Of course, there’s the puncher’s chance that Gonzales can land a clean punch that staggers Bush, but the more likely outcome sees Bush use his wrestling to control Gonzales and nullify his striking attack. Gonzales has found some success of his own on the mat, but he’s facing a guy in this contest who is far better on the mat. Bush will eventually finish this fight, most likely via ground-and-pound TKO.

Other key bouts: Damacio Page (17-9) vs. Elias Garcia (4-1), Jared Chaffee (3-0) vs. Justin Reiswerg (6-3), Ricky Turcios (2-0) vs. Adrian Yanez (1-0)

Xtreme Fighting Championship (Australia) 21

Mansfield Tavern in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Event Date: June 14
Website: Facebook/XFCFighting
Twitter: @XFCfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Kate Da Silva (7-1) vs. Jessy Jess (3-1)

XFC Australia is seeking to crown a women’s bantamweight champion. That’s good news for Jessy Jess and Kate Da Silva, two of the most successful female 135-pounders from the region. The two ladies will vie for the crown at XFC 21.

The 31-year-old Da Silva is the more experienced of the pair. Recently promoted to the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the New Zealand resident has five submission victories on her resume. The Storm Damage veteran has been competing professionally since 2009, but five of her eight fights have taken place within the last year—and those bouts took place over the course of just two events. Among those five contests is her only pro loss, which came via submission courtesy of Faith Van Duin. The loss came in Da Silva’s third fight of the night, following her submission wins over Arlene Blencowe and Ginny Connors. More recently, Da Silva posted a successful two-fight performance in the Princesses of Pain Round-Robin Tournament, where she submitted Desiree-Ann Maaka and took a judges’ nod over Charlene Watt. The combined record of her victims stands at 6-14.

Although Jess has kickboxing experience and one TKO victory to her name in MMA competition, she tends to be a grappler as well. Her other two wins came via rear-naked choke submission. The native Australian trains out of Integrated MMA and made her professional debut in 2012. She suffered her only loss in her FightWorld Cup 16 bout against Kyra Purcell. She shares one common opponent with Da Silva: Blencowe, a champion boxer. Like Da Silva, Jess was able to sink in a rear-naked choke to finish Blencowe.

Jess is accustomed to being the superior grappler in her fights, but she’ll have her work cut out for her on the mat in this outing against a BJJ black belt. However, there’s a lot to be learned about each fighter from their performances in their losses and against Blencowe, a common opponent. Jess is a far better wrestler who was able to put Blencowe on the mat repeatedly, whereas Da Silva can often struggle to find the takedown. Da Silva succeeded in defeating Blencowe, but it was off a reversal when Blencowe attempted to gain top position. Da Silva’s struggles in the takedown department also contributed to her loss to Van Duin. The BJJ black belt telegraphed her takedowns, and when she finally did score one, she failed to make use of the superior position, instead falling right into her opponent’s triangle choke attempt. Da Silva is more dangerous off her back, and she may actually get her chance to demonstrate that quality against Jess.

Jess appears to be the more comfortable of the two on her feet, but she primarily uses her striking to set up level changes that result in clinches and takedowns. She was outmuscled by the larger Purcell, and she may face a similar challenge against Da Silva. The big difference, though, is that Da Silva lacks the judo and use of leverage that Purcell used so well against Jess. Jess might opt to sprinkle in some striking exchanges between clinch work and takedowns. In the clinch, she should be able to press Da Silva into the cage and grind away at her. On the mat, Jess will have to be wary of Da Silva’s armbar attempts from the bottom, but she should find it easy to hold top position and grind away at Da Silva.

Da Silva’s jiu-jitsu stands as her biggest weapon, but Jess is a far more well-rounded fighter. She has the speed and tenacity to keep Da Silva on the defensive throughout the contest. It might not be enough to get the stoppage, but Jess should top Da Silva on the scorecards to take the decision win.

Other key bouts: Jacob Mahoney (10-8-1) vs. Evander Agnew (0-0)

World Warriors Fighting Championship: Cage Encounter

Manej Arena in Chisinau, Moldova
Event Date: June 14
Website: Facebook/wwfcleague

Spotlight Fight:
Vasiliy Fedorych (16-3) vs. Vlad Popovskiy (8-0)

Moldova hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for MMA, but World Warriors Fighting Championship is taking the first step in changing that. The promotion has gathered a number of intriguing prospects for its “Cage Encounter” event. Among the most interesting of these prospects are a pair of 22-year-olds who will clash in one of the evening’s feature bouts. Moldova’s own Vlad Popovskiy puts his unblemished record on the line against 19-fight veteran Vasiliy Fedorych.

The Ukrainian Fedorych has only been fighting professionally since March 2012, but he has already racked up 16 wins in 19 outings. “Cool Man” has put up 10 submission wins, three victories by some form of knockout and three decision wins. Meanwhile, he has only been stopped once. That defeat came in his most recent outing versus Alan Langer, a fighter whose record now stands at 6-5. When he was 13-1, he suffered a decision loss to debuting pro Nariman Abbasov. Almost all of his victories have come against opponents who now hold records at or below the .500 mark.

Popovskiy is a world combat sambo champion who trains out of CSA Moldova. He made his pro debut in 2010 and has marched out to a spotless record through eight fights. Many of his previous opponents have never won a pro bout, and the ones who have now stand with records below the .500 mark. The Moldovan fighter certainly needs to prove that he can defeat someone with a history of success. Though he scored a 30-second knockout in his most recent fight, Popovskiy’s focus is on his submission game. He has finished six of his opponents via submission, and he’s highly skilled in transitions on the ground and has the ability to use sweeps with high effectiveness to escape from bad positions.

Fedorych has demonstrated a high level of inconsistency. Although he is good at changing levels and scoring takedowns, he also gets taken down and controlled on the mat too easily. His fight with Abbasov was ugly, to say the least. He was outclassed on the ground in that contest, and Popovskiy’s style plays into plenty of Fedorych’s weaknesses.

Popovskiy is an aggressive fighter who will attack from the opening bell and seek the takedown without hesitation. On the mat, he wastes little time in seeking the transition to mount, and his ground-and-pound attack can be relentless. The welterweight fighter appears to hold the speed advantage over his taller foe.

Fedorych’s loss to Abbasov and his more recent submission defeat at the hands of Langer are troubling. Abbasov pushed Fedorych into deep water, and the results were not pretty. The Ukrainian’s cardio is a huge question mark at this stage. However, he’s seen the second and third rounds on many more occasions than Popovskiy, who has only gone beyond the first round in one of his eight pro fights.

Popovskiy’s aggressiveness and slick ground game, combined with an improving striking attack, should be instrumental in securing the victory over Fedorych. The six-foot Fedorych will have to capitalize on an early mistake by Popovskiy. If he cannot, then this fight is headed into deeper waters, where Popovskiy will use takedowns, ground-and-pound and constant pressure to wear down his opponent before finishing him with a submission. Popovskiy will maintain his perfect mark and add another submission win to his tally.

Other key bouts: Kevin Petshi (6-0) vs. Mark Platts (10-10), Khasan Askhabov (7-0) vs. Petru Ionut (0-0), Khusein Askhabov (7-0) vs. Ciprian Maris (0-0), Jessin Ayari (10-3) vs. Vladimir Nikolaev (10-3), Rogerio Matias de Conceicao (8-2) vs. Sergei Barberoshe (4-8), Roman Bochkovskiy (4-0) vs. Konstantin Chebotar (3-0), Anderson de Queiroz Diniz (9-3) vs. Andrey Barberoshe (2-2), Ion Cutelaba (6-1) is also scheduled to compete