Fast-rising featherweight star Megan Anderson earned the biggest victory of her career tonight at Invicta Fighting Championships 21 in Kansas City, Missouri. The highly-touted Australian standout stopped Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet to become Invicta FC Interim Featherweight Champion.
Anderson survived early danger in tonight’s main event matchup, as she was rocked on two occasions by Tweet in round one, and dispatched of the Canadian veteran with a barrage of strikes in the second stanza. In featured bantamweight action, Raquel “Lionheart” Pa’aluhi finished Pannie Kianzad.
Anderson (8-2-0) started strong with jabs and a head kick that backed her opponent up against the cage, but Tweet (9-6-0) found success with leg kicks and she rocked Anderson with a powerful right hook. Anderson recovered and initiated a clinch, and she swarmed on Tweet with a series of punches against the cage. Tweet weathered the storm and attempted a guillotine choke after landing a spinning backfist, and she stunned Anderson again with punches late in the round. Anderson took the fight to the mat in the dying seconds and Tweet countered with a guillotine from her back.
The second round began with both women landing power punches, but Anderson got the better of the exchange and she began to pick Tweet apart with one-twos. Tweet bled from the nose and from a deep gash above her right eye, and Anderson targeted the cut with a flurry of punches. Tweet turned her back and Anderson landed a final head kick that forced Tweet to turtle against the cage wall and led referee Greg Franklin to stop the fight at the 2:05 mark of round two.
Anderson’s impressive stoppage victory earned her the Invicta FC Interim Featherweight Championship, but the title appears to be little more than a stepping stone on the Australian’s path to the UFC. Post-fight, she called out the winner of the upcoming UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship bout between Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm and Germaine “The Iron Lady” de Randamie.
In a bantamweight bout between two fighters who were coming off of lengthy layoffs, Pa’aluhi (6-5-0) showed no signs of ring rust in her quick and one-sided victory over Kianzad (8-2-0), who had not fought since suffering her first career loss at Invicta FC 14 in September 2015.
Pa’aluhi took her foe down into side control in the opening seconds and punished Kianzad with knees to the body. She postured up with punches and took Kianzad’s back in a scramble, then worked for rear-naked chokes until she was able to secure one for a tapout win at the 3:40 mark of round one.
Tonight’s victory was a crucial one for Pa’aluhi, who suffered a razor-thin Split Decision loss to Colleen “The Thoroughbred” Schneider in a bantamweight title eliminator at Invicta FC 15. She once again finds herself in title contention after dispatching of Kianzad in quick fashion.
Making the most of a short-notice opportunity, Leah “Nidas” Letson (4-1-0) moved up in weight to compete as a featherweight tonight and knocked out UFC veteran Elizabeth Phillips (5-5-0) with a vicious first-round head kick.
Letson opened the action with a big left hand that was immediately countered by a right cross from Phillips. The fighters traded punches until Letson unleashed a head kick that sent an unconscious Phillips crashing to the canvas. Letson landed follow-up punches on the ground and the fight was waved off at the 1:18 mark of the opening round.
While Letson’s victory tonight was a sensational one, especially on mere days’ notice, she intends to return to the bantamweight division for her next fight and stated that tonight’s foray at 145 was a one-off.
Earlier on the card, one of Invicta FC’s brightest prospects, Aspen Ladd (5-0-0), kept her undefeated record intact with a Unanimous Decision victory over Sijara “Sarj” Eubanks (2-2-0) at bantamweight. Eubanks fought off Ladd’s takedown attempts in round one, but Ladd was the aggressor on the feet and she kept Eubanks on the defensive with jabs and combinations. On the mat, Ladd threatened with an inverted triangle choke and an armbar. Eubanks was unable to capitalise on taking top position in round three and Ladd prevailed with official scores of 29-28 and 30-27 twice.
Returning from a nine-month suspension following a positive test for a banned diuretic, flyweight prospect Andrea “KGB” Lee (5-2-0) mauled an overmatched Jenny Liou (6-5-0), who shaved her head in order to make the 126-pound limit. Lee hurt Liou early in the fight with punches and kept the pressure on with knees in close. A left hook to the liver sent Liou to the canvas and the brief bout was stopped at the 1:14 mark of the first round.
In what was arguably the fight of the night, resilient strawweights Amy “The Resurrection” Cadwell Montenegro (8-2-0) and Celine Haga (10-14-0) exchanged near-finishes for 15 minutes until Montenegro ultimately emerged victorious via a controversial Unanimous Decision. The back-and-forth battle saw Montenegro force Haga to submit to an armbar at the end of round one, but Haga’s tap came after the bell and she appeared to have won the remainder of the round. Montenegro controlled rounds two and three, and looked to be seconds away from a well-deserved decision win until Haga trapped her in a rear-naked choke. Montenegro was rendered unconscious as the final bell sounded, but the bout was allowed to go to the scorecards and all three judges had it 29-28 for Montenegro.
Opening up the card, former amateur standout Christine “Misfit” Ferea (1-0-0) made a successful pro debut by stopping Rachael Ostovich (3-3-0) in an entertaining flyweight battle. Ferea scored with punch-kick combos in round one and followed with ground and pound after reversing a takedown. Ostovich rallied in the second stanza and worked for rear-naked chokes and an armbar. She got Ferea down very briefly in round three, but Ferea stood and rocked her with a head kick. Ostovich held on, but Ferea unloaded with punches until the fight was finally stopped at the 1:29 mark of the third round.
Full play-by-play for all bouts on the Invicta FC 21 card can be found here.
(Photo Credit: Invicta Fighting Championships)