On Saturday night, Invicta Fighting Championships showcases its second all-female event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. The main card features a bantamweight matchup between Olympic medallist Sara McMann and catch wrestling specialist Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler.
The night’s co-main event is one of four additional bantamweight bouts on the main card. Raging Wolf champ and Japanese jujutsu black belt Alexis Davis takes on former Smackgirl titleholder Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano in a battle of Strikeforce veterans. MMARising.com previews the card.
Invicta FC will crown its first bantamweight champion in October and the winner of the bout between McMann (5-0-0) and Baszler (14-6-0) will be one half of the Fall title tilt. McMann, a 2004 Olympic silver medallist in wrestling, has thus far dominated all challengers in her young mixed martial arts career. She is arguably MMA’s best female wrestler and her striking continues to improve with each passing fight. Baszler is a seasoned veteran who has battled most of the top female fighters at 135 pounds and she is renowned for her crafty submission game. All but one of her victories have come by tapout, including two wins via the rarely-seen twister. While McMann will hold a decided edge in the wrestling department, one mistake on the ground could be all that Baszler needs in order to submit the Olympian and move on to challenge for the title in just over two months.
In a bout that could potentially determine the second half of the October bantamweight title fight, Davis (11-5-0) and Akano (18-9-0) face off in a battle of evenly-matched submission specialists. Davis made a name for herself by capturing and defending the Raging Wolf women’s title, but it was her second-round victory over Amanda Nunes for Strikeforce in September that solidified her spot as one of MMA’s top bantamweights. She is coming off of a Fight of the Year candidate bout with former Strikeforce champ Sarah Kaufman in March and believes that a win on Saturday could place her in title contention for Strikeforce or Invicta FC. Akano has faced a who’s who of the 135-pound ranks and sports 14 wins by way of submission. She dropped a Unanimous Decision to Sara McMann in January, but has never been submitted in her career and will pose a tough test for Davis in the co-feature.
Another 135-pound contender’s bout pits former Strikeforce title challenger Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche (6-2-0) against knockout artist Kaitlin Young (7-5-1). Carmouche won five straight fights to begin her MMA career and stepped in on short notice to challenge Marloes Coenen for Strikeforce championship gold in March 2011. She dominated the champion for the better part of three rounds before succumbing to a fourth-round triangle choke, but rebounded with a quick victory at Invicta FC 1. Young was also in action on the first Invicta FC card and fought to a Split Draw with fellow Muay Thai striker Leslie Smith. Young has tasted defeat just once in her past five fights and will have an advantage if she can keep the fight on the feet, but she must be wary of Carmouche’s takedowns and ground and pound that were on display against Coenen.
The lone strawweight matchup on Saturday’s main card features unbeaten Jewels champion Ayaka Hamasaki (7-0-0) taking on short-notice replacement opponent Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman (7-4-0). Hamasaki has torn through the competition since making her MMA debut in 2009 and the Megumi Fujii protégé has yet to lose as an amateur or a professional. She captured the Jewels title in late 2010 and is coming off of a dominant first-round submission victory over Japanese legend Yuka Tsuji. Schuckman enters this bout as an underdog, but she is no stranger to facing tough opposition and has had success competing in multiple weight classes. Schuckman is a well-rounded fighter with solid ground and pound skills, but she will need to avoid Hamasaki’s stellar submission game. The winner of this fight could find herself competing for Invicta FC gold in early 2013.
Former Strikeforce contender Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (6-2-0) has endured two opponent changes for her bout on Saturday night, but she will indeed compete on the card. Nunes is set to face Hawaii’s Raquel “Rocky” Pa’aluhi (2-2-0), who enters the fight on short notice. Nunes racked up six straight knockout victories after dropping her pro debut and she appeared to be on the fast track to a Strikeforce title shot until she was stopped by Alexis Davis in September. The hard-hitting striker looks to begin a new winning streak when she makes her Invicta FC debut this weekend. Pa’aluhi is also looking to rebound from a loss, but she put on a strong performance in defeat against Invicta FC 2 headliner Sara McMann in her most recent outing. Nunes’s cardio has posed problems for her at times in the past and Pa’aluhi could capitalise if she can survive the Brazilian’s early offensive onslaught.
Strikeforce veteran Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (5-2-0) looks for her second straight victory inside the Invicta FC cage when she squares off against long-time Brazilian standout Vanessa Porto (14-4-0). D’Alelio rebounded from back-to-back defeats, including a controversial loss to Ronda Rousey, in her Invicta FC debut in April when she dispatched of the previously unbeaten Vanessa Mariscal. The recently promoted BJJ purple belt excels on the ground, where she dominated Mariscal en route to the second-round stoppage. Porto is also highly skilled on the mat and has secured ten of her career wins by way of submission. She has lost just once in her past eight fights and is coming off of a 41-second knockout victory that earned her the Pink Fight 132-pound title. Like much of the Invicta FC 2 card, this is a very even matchup between two talented fighters on the verge of championship contention.
Rising flyweight star Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (5-2-0) competes for the first time this year when she meets unbeaten prospect Bethany Marshall (4-0-0) in what could prove to be a title eliminator. Honchak is one of the division’s most well-rounded fighters and she has amassed an impressive four-fight winning streak that includes an October submission of Roxanne Modafferi. Marshall is returning to action for the first time since March 2011 and ring rust could play a factor, but she has thus far looked dominant in each of her four wins. Honchak currently holds the number three spot in the 125-pound division and Marshall hopes to claim that honour for herself on Saturday. Both fighters are known for their fast-paced fights and this contender’s bout may be a Fight of the Night candidate.
Opening up the main card is a featherweight fight between noted strikers Julia “The Jewel” Budd” (2-2-0) and Elina Nilsson (2-2-0). Both fighters sport similar backgrounds that include extensive Muay Thai competition. Budd made the jump to MMA in October 2010 with an impressive win over Shana Nelson and has thus far competed exclusively for Strikeforce. She has alternated between wins and losses and most recently fell victim to a gruesome first-round armbar from current Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey. Nilsson is not yet known to the North American fanbase, but she has quietly made a name for herself in Europe. The talented Swede has won back-to-back fights leading up to her Invicta FC debut and is coming off of a key victory over Danielle West. It has been over a year since Nilsson’s last MMA fight, however, and she faces a very tough opponent in her U.S. debut.
Invicta Fighting Championships 2 takes place on July 28th at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
Invicta Fighting Championships 2 Fight Card:
- Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-6-0) vs Sara McMann (5-0-0) [135 pounds]
- Alexis Davis (11-5-0) vs Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (18-9-0) [135 pounds]
- Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche (6-2-0) vs Kaitlin Young (7-5-1) [135 pounds]
- Ayaka Hamasaki (7-0-0) vs Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman (7-4-0) [115 pounds]
- Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (6-2-0) vs Raquel “Rocky” Pa’aluhi (2-2-0) [135 pounds]
- Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (5-2-0) vs Vanessa Porto (14-4-0) [135 pounds]
- Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (5-2-0) vs Bethany Marshall (4-0-0) [125 pounds]
- Julia “The Jewel” Budd (2-2-0) vs Elina Nilsson (2-2-0) [145 pounds]
- Carla Esparza (6-2-0) vs Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider (6-5-0) [115 pounds]
- “South Valley’s Own” Angelica Chavez (4-1-0) vs Nicdali “The Night Queen” Rivera-Calanoc (7-6-0) [105 pounds]
- Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras (2-0-0) vs Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (1-1-0) [135 pounds]
- Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (5-2-0 AM) vs Suzie Montero (1-0-0) [135 pounds]
- Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (4-2-0 AM) vs Cheryl Chan (6-2-0 AM) [125 pounds]
- Jessica Philippus (7-1-0 AM) vs “Lightning” Liz McCarthy (6-0-0 AM) [105 pounds]
(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)