Invicta Fighting Championships staged a successful third event tonight at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. In the night’s main event, Jessica Penne prevailed over Jewels titleholder Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama to become the inaugural Invicta FC Atomweight Champion at 105 pounds.
Grappling specialist Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler picked up her first Invicta FC win tonight by submitting rising bantamweight star Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio in the co-main event, and Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith stopped Kaitlin Young in a much-anticipated rematch from April.
Penne (10-1-0) took the fight with Sugiyama (8-1-0) to the mat early on after catching a kick from her Japanese foe. She worked to pass from half-guard to side control, but Sugiyama’s defence was solid and Penne had to settle for landing short punches from the top. Sugiyama eventually scrambled back to her feet, where the fighters traded punches and knees in the clinch until the end of the round.
Penne countered leg kicks from Sugiyama with knees from a Thai clinch and she used her grip to force Sugiyama down to the mat. Sugiyama wound up on top, but it was not long before Penne framed up a triangle choke from her back against the cage. Sugiyama was content to stay in place, but Penne adjusted her legs and tightened the choke. With nowhere to go, the previously unbeaten Sugiyama tapped out to the triangle at the 2:20 mark of round two.
The impressive victory earned Penne the inaugural Invicta FC Atomweight Championship. She has won three straight fights since dropping down to 105 pounds and is one of the most well-rounded female fighters in the sport today.
In one of her more impressive performances to date, Baszler (15-7-0) snapped D’Alelio’s (6-3-0) two-fight winning streak with a second-round rear-naked choke after controlling the fight throughout.
The opening round began with an exchange of strikes and Baszler countered a punching flurry from D’Alelio by taking her down. She transitioned to D’Alelio’s back and worked for a rear-naked choke and later a Twister, but D’Alelio defended well and managed to fend off Baszler’s submission attempts. Baszler abandoned the submissions in favour of punches from back control until the end of the round.
Baszler took advantage of an early slip from D’Alelio in round two by pouncing on her fallen opponent and landed a barrage of punches. D’Alelio rolled and gave up her back, and Baszler quickly took advantage by locking on another rear-naked choke. This time, D’Alelio could not escape and she tapped out just 37 seconds into round two.
Baszler could now be in line for a shot at the inaugural Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship, which is expected to be created in 2013. She has won five of her past six fights, with the lone loss coming via contentious decision at Invicta FC 2 in July.
One of the most highly anticipated bouts on tonight’s card matched Smith (4-2-1) against Young (7-7-1) in a rematch from the pair’s Split Draw at Invicta FC 1 in April. This time, there was no doubt who won the fight, as Smith finished Young with punches from a top-side crucifix midway through round two.
Much like their first bout, the fighters traded hard punches in a series of exchanges on the feet in the opening round that drew big cheers from the crowd in attendance. Smith caught a kick and took Young down, but instantly found herself fighting off an armbar. Smith escaped to the top in side control, but Young showcased her much-improved submission game by locking on an inverted triangle choke from the bottom. It was unsuccessful, however, and Smith closed out the round strong with some big punches and a rear-naked choke.
More punches were exchanged in round two and Smith took Young down to the mat with a rolling kneebar attempt. She used the hold to sweep into top position and punched free of an armbar from Young. From there, Smith passed to side control and trapped Young’s arms, then rained down right hands for the TKO stoppage at the 2:19 mark of round two.
After tonight’s impressive win, Smith has established herself as a contender in the bantamweight division, but she has eyes on a move down to 125 pounds as well. Smith spoke with MMARising.com following her fight and expressed interest in competing as a flyweight, with an eventual goal of one day holding a title in two different weight classes. She sees a number of new challenges in the 125-pound division and hopes to return to Invicta FC on the promotion’s fifth card.
The Invicta FC 3 main card featured a pair of high-profile flyweight matchups. In one, Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (7-2-0) notched her sixth straight win with a Unanimous Decision over Irish standout Aisling “Ais The Bash” Daly (13-4-0).
Honchak kept the fight on the feet in round two and countered Daly’s leg kicks with one-two combinations. She landed more strikes from the clinch and closed out the round with some big knees. Honchak continued to control the striking exchanges in rounds two and three, but she also dominated the action on the ground. She threatened with rear-naked chokes and landed punches from mount that kept Daly on the defensive.
Daly tried for two Kimura attempts, but she was unsuccessful and Honchak stayed in control until the final bell. Scores were 30-27 thrice for Honchak, who is arguably the fastest rising female star at 125 pounds.
A second flyweight bout featured the 125-pound debut of Brazilian veteran Vanessa Porto (15-5-0), who dominated Tara LaRosa (21-3-0) en route to a clear-cut Unanimous Decision victory.
Porto wisely opted to stand and trade strikes with LaRosa throughout the fight to avoid the former pound-for-pound star’s formidable grappling skills. Porto dropped LaRosa on two occasions in the first round and continued to punish her opponent with more hard right hands and leg kicks that left LaRosa limping and unable to mount much of any offence. This continued until the end of the fight when all three judges returned 30-27 scorecards for Porto, who picked up the biggest victory of her career.
Other main card action included a bantamweight bout between “Alpha” Cat Zingano (7-0-0) and fellow Colorado native Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (3-2-0). Zingano had originally been set to face Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes for Strikeforce this past month, but returned to the Invicta card after the Strikeforce event was cancelled.
Round one was spent primarily in the clinch and both fighters landed knees as they battled for position. Zingano dragged Pennington down to the mat, but she could not keep her there for long and the fighters returned to the clinch on the feet. Zingano took Pennington down once more before the bell.
Zingano remained aggressive in round two with kicks early on and landed more knees in the clinch. After throwing Pennington to the mat, Zingano landed elbows from side control until Pennington gave up her back and paved the way for Zingano to lock on a fight-ending rear-naked choke at the 3:32 mark of round two.
In atomweight action, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson (10-3-0) survived a strong first round from Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman (7-6-0) to take a narrow Split Decision victory after three rounds.
Waterson dropped Schuckman with a front kick to the face in the opening round, but she soon found herself on her back after Schuckman scored a takedown. Schuckman avoided a guillotine choke attempt and set to work with punches and rear-naked chokes. Waterson was clearly in some trouble, but she managed to fight her way back to guard and countered with an armbar. The fight eventually returned to the feet and Schuckman landed some solid punches.
Waterson turned the tides in round two with another head kick and a reversal of a Schuckman takedown. Waterson attempted rear-naked chokes of her own and controlled the round from top position. The final round was very even and both fighters scored with kicks and punches. Schuckman got Waterson down, but Waterson swept into mount and tried for an armbar. She was unsuccessful, but the fight returned to the feet and she landed some nice kicks before the final bell.
Judge Victoria Miller-Pence scored the close fight 29-28 for Schuckman, but judges Kevin Champion and Henry Gueary both saw it 29-28 for Waterson, who took the Split Decision.
Kicking off the main card, Strikeforce veteran Julia “The Jewel” Budd (4-2-0) earned her second straight stoppage win under the Invicta FC banner with a first-round TKO of late replacement opponent Danielle “The Honey Badger” West (4-4-1).
West tried to pull guard to take the fight to the mat, but Budd stayed on her feet and both fighters landed knees. Budd slammed West down and quickly moved to mount. She teed off with elbows and punches until referee Greg Franklin intervened to stop the fight at the 2:32 mark of round one.
Tonight’s preliminary card was headlined by a strawweight bout between standout wrestler Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (8-2-0) and fellow Bellator veteran Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez (5-3-0). Esparza took Alvarez down very early in the fight and methodically moved to side control. She landed numerous punches from the top until the fight was stopped at the 2:53 mark of the opening round, giving Esparza another impressive TKO win.
Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood (4-0-0) made an instant impact in her North American debut by handing Ashley “Smashley” Cummins (3-1-0) the first defeat of her career in a brief bout at 115 pounds. The fighters traded punches and knees in the clinch until a vicious knee to the body put Cummins down and out at the 3:13 mark of round one.
Stephanie “Macaquinha” Frausto (4-4-0) evened her professional record with another quick and dominant submission victory tonight in an atomweight bout with Amy “Lil’ Dynamite” Davis (3-4-0, 1 NC). Frausto immediately rushed forward with punches and took Davis down. She secured a guillotine choke from the top and pulled guard, forcing Davis to submit just 48 seconds into the fight.
Keeping her perfect record intact, Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (2-0-0) earned an extremely impressive first-round submission victory over Marciea “Black Widow” Allen (1-1-0). Both fighters landed some nice strikes early on, including a Superman Punch from Allen, before Duke opted to take the fight to the ground. Duke worked for an inverted heel hook, but she lost the position and Allen punished her with big right hands. Despite losing her mouthpiece, Duke stayed calm and made a slick transition to a fight-ending armbar at the 4:42 mark of round one.
MMA’s top two 115-pound amateur prospects collided tonight when Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (1-0-0) outpointed Kaiyana Rain (0-1-0) in each fighter’s pro debut. Torres maintained an edge in the striking exchanges throughout the fight and rocked Rain on more than one occasion. Rain landed some solid right hands, but a late takedown attempt backfired when Torres took her back and tried for a rear-naked choke before the final bell. All three judges scored the fight 30-27 for Torres, who is one of the sport’s brightest female prospects in any weight class.
Invicta FC 3 began with a featherweight matchup between veteran Ediene “India” Gomes (9-2-0) and hard-hitting prospect Katalina Malungahu (2-1-0). Malungahu stunned her more experienced opponent with right hooks early on, but Gomes wisely took the fight to the ground and moved back and forth from mount to back control until she was able to secure a rear-naked choke that forced Malungahu to tap out at the 4:19 mark.