Every week, The MMA Corner takes a look at three regional, developmental or international cards from the upcoming weekend, 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 33

Allen Event Center in Allen, Texas
Event Date: July 18
Website: legacyfights.net
Watch Event: AXS TV
Twitter: @legacyfighting

Spotlight Fight:
Leonard Garcia (18-11-1) vs. Damon Jackson (8-0)

When Leonard Garcia exited the UFC, he was viewed by fans and pundits as an entertaining fighter who could brawl with the best of them. He was also seen as someone whose release was well overdue after a five-fight losing streak and an undeserved decision nod in his only UFC victory during his most recent stint with the promotion. Now, Garcia is on a mission to return to the UFC. He has compiled a three-fight winning streak under the Legacy Fighting Championship banner and claimed the promotion’s featherweight crown in the process. At Legacy’s 33rd offering, he’ll seek to extend his streak and put his name into the mind of UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby when Shelby is looking at possible match-ups for the UFC’s trip to Mexico in November. Standing in his way will be an undefeated title challenger by the name of Damon Jackson.

Garcia’s swing-for-the-fences style has entertained WEC and UFC fans dating as far back as 2007, when he made his Octagon debut in a losing effort against Roger Huerta. Then a lightweight, the Jackson’s MMA product went 1-2 before moving to the Zuffa-owned WEC and dropping to featherweight. Once at 145 pounds, Garcia renewed his momentum with two wins before losing to Mike Brown in his bid for the WEC featherweight title. That’s when the split decisions started coming. In his five remaining WEC bouts, Garcia went the distance each time. Four of those decisions were split verdicts, and Garcia managed just a 2-2-1 mark before returning to the UFC for his ill-fated 1-5 run. Though he has just five wins by some form of knockout compared to 10 submission wins, Garcia became known for his wild haymakers rather than any technical striking or grappling game. Now 35 years old, his recent winning streak has highlighted a renewed motivation and attention to strategy in Garcia, who spent time training with the Team Alpha Male camp. He used a head kick to knock out Rey Trujillo, secured a first-round rear-naked choke on Nick Gonzalez and captured the gold with a TKO finish of Kevin Aguilar. This will mark his first title defense, but it weighs more heavily on his mind as a must-win fight if he hopes to rejoin the UFC roster.

His opponent, the 25-year-old Jackson, hails from Texas and has claimed two submission victories under the Houston-based Legacy banner. “The Leech” has four other submission victories on his resume for a grand total of six submission finishes. His other two wins came via first-round TKO. Jackson has also appeared in the Bellator cage, where he scored the second of his two TKO victories. The Octagon MMA product trains alongside the likes of Sean Spencer, Matt Hobar and fellow Legacy FC 33 combatant Steven Peterson. He has a background in wrestling, where he earned his nickname for his strong top and bottom games. Jackson made his pro debut in late 2012, but he has maintained an active schedule that has allowed him to put together an eight-fight run in less than two years.

Garcia has had his struggles inside the WEC and the UFC, but when he’s on the regional circuit, he tends to be reliable. In fact, he is 12-1 outside of Zuffa-owned promotions. His brawling tendencies got him in trouble in a lot of his fights, but he seems to have addressed the problem to some degree. He hasn’t abandoned those tendencies altogether, but he has learned to throw crisper, more accurate strikes, mixing in more leg kicks and taking his opponents down when the opportunity arises. He might not have an easy time getting Jackson to the canvas, but then he might not want to explore that area anyhow, given Jackson’s efficiency at finishing his opponents via submission. This is a fight where Garcia will want to do his damage in the stand-up and Jackson will hunt for takedowns to drag Garcia into his world. Even if Jackson is able to get Garcia down, though, the veteran is savvy in the grappling department and won’t be an easy out. Garcia has lost twice by way of submission, but he typically saves his losses for the scorecards.

Jackson is a solid, young wrestler, but he’s taking on a fired-up Garcia. That’s a lot to overcome for a fighter with less than two full years of experience as a pro. Garcia will avoid Jackson’s takedowns and land powerful counters when Jackson closes the distance. Eventually, Garcia will rock Jackson and move in for the kill. Garcia will make a successful title defense in this fight with a second-round TKO finish.

Other key bouts: Marcus Hicks (10-3) vs. Kamarudeen Usman (4-1), Steven Peterson (10-4) vs. Johnny Ray Rodriguez (4-2), Eli Tamez (7-0) vs. Kory Vialet (4-1), Andrew Parker (3-1) vs. Melvin Jordan (2-1), Evan Thompson (4-0) vs. Victor Reyna (4-1)

Jungle Fight 71

Ginasio do Caninde in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Event Date: July 19
Website: junglefight.net.br
Watch Event: Combat and SporTV (Brazil), ESPN Deportes (Latin America).
Twitter: @junglefc

Spotlight Fight:
Renato “Moicano” Carneiro (7-0-1) vs. Ismael Bonfim (6-2)

Any attentive MMA fan will know not to overlook the Jungle Fight 71 interim featherweight title fight between Renato “Moicano” Carneiro and Ismael Bonfim. Jungle Fights has had a habit lately of sending champions to the UFC. Its lightweight champion, Tiago dos Santos e Silva, is slated to make his UFC debut at the UFC on Fox 12 card, and numerous other top performers from the promotion have graced the Octagon recently. When Carneiro and Bonfim vie for the interim belt, they could also be auditioning for a spot on the UFC roster. At the very least, they’ll secure their place in a future bout against reigning champion Marcos Alexandre “Capitao” Campos de Almeida, who was forced out of the scheduled Jungle Fight 71 headliner against Carneiro due to an injury.

Capitao claimed the title in December at Jungle Fight 62, where he bested Rafael Miranda via unanimous decision. With Capitao sidelined with an injury to his left arm, Bonfim steps in as a late replacement to fight Carneiro for the interim strap. “Marreta” made his pro debut in 2011 and won just one of his first three fights. The Team Samuray and Pop Fight Club product has turned his career around since that second loss, which came in October 2011. He is undefeated through his last five fights, all of which have ended in stoppages. The 18-year-old fighter is a pupil of multiple-time world champion boxer Acelino Freitas, and his record, which includes four wins by some form of knockout, reflects his boxing background. Bonfim’s first loss came to current surging ONE FC prospect Adriano Moraes. His three most recent wins came against fighters with winning records, including two fighters who each have more than 15 total pro fights.

Carneiro is the more established prospect in this pairing. The 23-year-old left law school to devote himself to a career in MMA. He made his debut in 2010 with a win over the current champion, Capitao, and remains perfect through eight fights, with seven wins and a draw. Among his victories, Moicano has claimed unanimous decisions over UFC veteran Iliarde Santos and Bitetti Combat vet Joao Luiz Nogueira. The Constrictor Team product is not much of a finisher, with just three fights ending before the final bell. All three of those stoppages came via submission.

Bonfim’s recent wins prove that he’s a worthy contender, but those two submission losses are difficult to overlook. He’s a striker who is vulnerable on the ground. Carneiro hasn’t scored many stoppages, but the finishes on his resume all came courtesy of his grappling skills. That’s bad news for Bonfim, who will hunt for the early knockout. Carneiro has been preparing for a top-tier submission specialist, however, so the switch in opponents could certainly factor into his performance. There’s a chance that he’s not ready for Bonfim’s striking-based attack.

Although Bonfim’s fists make him a constant threat in any fight, he lacks the ground game to contend with Carneiro, who has notched wins over several notable names. Carneiro will find a way to bring this fight to the mat, where he can attack Bonfim’s weaknesses. This should be a back-and-forth contest, where Bonfim tags Carneiro on the feet, but also has to fend off Carneiro on the mat. Bonfim will make a mistake and Moicano will capitalize for the submission finish.

Other key bouts: Itamar Rosa (9-3) vs. Elizeu “Capoeira” Zaleski dos Santos (12-4) for the welterweight title, Bruno Tavares (5-1-1) vs. Fabiano Nogueira (7-3), Ciro Rodrigues (15-5) vs. Lucio Abreu (8-3), Diego Duarte (7-1) vs. David da Silva (6-1), Rene Pessoa (6-1) vs. Marcus Vinicius Cruz (4-1)

Xtreme Kombat 24

Arena Naucalpan in Naucalpan, Mexico
Event Date: July 19
Website: xtremekombat.com.mx
Watch Event: AYM Sports, Latin American Sports and CableSports
Twitter: @ari_gins (Xtreme Kombat founder)

Spotlight Fight:
Vinny Magalhaes (10-7) vs. Jorge Gonzales (6-0)

In November, the UFC is headed to Mexico. This weekend, though, Xtreme Kombat takes center stage in Mexico. The promotion is back with its 24th offering, and it has even brought along a UFC veteran to strengthen its card. That veteran is decorated grappler Vinny Magalhaes. The former M-1 Global light heavyweight champion meets undefeated striker Jorge Gonzales in the headlining bout of the evening.

Magalhaes has an extensive list of grappling credentials, including two black belts in jiu-jitsu, an ADCC gold medal and a gold at the Worlds. The 30-year-old Brazilian has had trouble putting everything together in his MMA career, though. After a 2-2 start as a pro, he entered The Ultimate Fighter 8 house and emerged as a finalist, but he suffered a TKO loss to Ryan Bader at the TUF 8 Finale. A subsequent loss to Eliot Marshall spelled the end of Magalhaes’ first UFC run. He went on to win his next five bouts, including four fights in the M-1 ring. He defeated Viktor Nemkov to claim M-1 gold, then defended the belt against Mikhail Zayats. That earned the grappling ace another shot in the UFC. After a win over Igor Pokrajac, Magalhaes suffered losses to Phil Davis and Anthony Perosh. The result was another UFC pink slip. Now, he’ll look to right the ship once again when he fights Gonzales.

Gonzales is credited with two amateur losses in the Sherdog fighter database, but his pro career, which started in 2010, has been filled with much more success. “George St.” has been perfect through six fights. He has ended all of his fights in the first round. Five of those victories came via some form of knockout, and the remaining win was a keylock submission finish. Gonzalez has only faced one opponent with a winning record.

Magalhaes has some head-scratchers in his loss column, but his wins over Zayats and Pokrajac are encouraging signs that the jiu-jitsu specialist is developing into a well-equipped mixed martial artist. He has eight finishes by way of submission, but he also has two victories via strikes. If he can get Gonzales to the mat, the fight is over. However, Perosh and Bader were able to annihilate him with strikes, and he’s suffered losses to grapplers like Phil Davis and Eliot Marshall. If Gonzales can find a home for his strikes, he could shock Magalhaes and score the knockout win.

The knockout is always a possibility, but in terms of skill levels, Magalhaes is leaps and bounds beyond Gonzales. If the jiu-jitsu ace is smart, he’ll avoid standing with Gonzales. Instead, he’ll get this fight to the ground by whatever means necessary, even if it means pulling guard. On the mat, Gonzales stands little chance of hanging in there. Magalhaes will score the submission finish in the early second round.

Other key bouts: Tania Pereda (1-0) vs. Karina Gonzalez (0-0), Michael Robertson (4-0) vs. Julio Cesar Cruz (5-5), Andy Gonzalez (3-0) vs. Alejandro Solorzano (0-1)