On Saturday night, Invicta Fighting Championships showcases its second all-female event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. The preliminary portion of the card is headlined by a strawweight bout between standout wrestler Carla Esparza and submission ace Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider.
The preliminary card features five additional fights in three weight classes. In 105-pound atomweight action, “South Valley’s Own” Angelica Chavez looks to rebound from her first loss when she faces Invicta FC 1 competitor Nicdali “The Night Queen” Rivera-Calanoc. MMARising.com previews the card.
A future 115-pound title contender may be determined when Bellator veteran Esparza (6-2-0) makes her Invicta FC debut against the battle-tested Schneider (6-5-0). Esparza is arguably the top female wrestler in the division and she most recently earned a dominant Unanimous Decision victory over Felice Herrig in December. However, Schneider is highly skilled when working off of her back and she holds notable submission wins over bantamweight contenders Kaitlin Young and Julie Kedzie. Esparza has recently shown marked improvement in her striking and that may prove to be a key factor if she keeps the fight with Schneider on the feet. Schneider looks for her second straight win under the Invicta FC banner after submitting Sally Krumdiack at the promotion’s inaugural event in April.
Competing outside of her home state of New Mexico for the first time, Chavez (4-1-0) plans to rebound from her first career setback when she faces her most experienced opponent to date. The kajukenbo practitioner has submitted all four of her conquered opponents and is one of the more technically sound fighters in the 105-pound division. Rivera-Calanoc (7-6-0) enters this fight on relatively short notice and with something to prove. The striker has only been finished once in the past three years, but she is currently in the midst of a two-fight losing streak. Despite being seen by some as an underdog, Rivera-Calanoc believes that a victory over Chavez will propel her into a top-ten spot in the division and she should hold an edge if she can keep the fight standing.
In one of two bantamweight bouts on the preliminary card, undefeated Canadian Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras (2-0-0) looks to take another step towards contendership when she faces Colorado’s Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (1-1-0). Moras has finished all but one of her amateur and professional opponents to date and she is coming off of a dominant stoppage victory over the previously unbeaten Julianna Peña, in which Moras broke Peña’s arm with an armbar. Pennington amassed an impressive 7-1 record as an amateur before turning pro with a victory over Kim Couture in March. However, she must now battle back from a decision loss this past month. Both Moras and Pennington are proven finishers with good submissions and ground and pound. This bout is unlikely to make it to the judges.
The second preliminary bantamweight matchup pits former two-time amateur champion Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (5-2-0 amateur) against kickboxing standout Suzie Montero (1-0-0) in Duke’s pro debut. The MMA experience advantage belongs to Duke, who captured titles for both Absolute Action MMA and Tuff-N-Uff during her stint in the amateur ranks. The 5’11″ Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu practitioner is skilled on the feet and on the ground. Montero has also developed into a well-rounded fighter herself, but her primary strength is her standup game. With nearly a decade of experience as a kickboxer, American Top Team’s Montero looks to continue her success in MMA after winning her October pro debut, and a victory over Duke would send a message to the rest of the bantamweight division.
Amateur flyweight prospects collide when former Tuff-N-Uff champion Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (4-2-0 amateur) battles Canada’s Cheryl Chan (6-2-0 amateur). Lybarger kicked off her MMA career with three straight wins before challenging for the Tuff-N-Uff title in 2011. Her first bid for the belt was not a successful one, but she capped off her amateur career by capturing the title in April. Lybarger’s striking and top game are her strengths, while Chan is best when working off of her back. All six of Chan’s victories have come by way of submission, from five different submission holds. The three-time amateur titleholder has won four straight fights and will solidify her spot as one of the division’s top prospects if she is able to defeat Lybarger this weekend.
Kicking off Invicta FC 2 is a bout between MMA’s top two female competitors in the 105-pound amateur division. Three-time champ meets three-time champ when Jessica Philippus (7-1-0 amateur) takes on “Lightning” Liz McCarthy (6-0-0). Both competitors are known for aggressive fighting styles and each one excels on the ground. Philippus has dominated much of the atomweight division with her wrestling skills, while McCarthy put her jiu-jitsu and submission grappling talents to good use by dispatching of all challengers between 105 and 115 pounds. Philippus is coming off of a first-round submission victory in May and has not lost since her MMA debut. McCarthy has yet to taste defeat and earned a Split Decision win in January. The winner will take a big step up the atomweight ranks.
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]