Invicta FC Bantamweight Champion Tonya “Triple Threat” Evinger survived early scares and retained her title with a second-round submission victory tonight at Invicta Fighting Championships 22 in Kansas City, Missouri. Evinger submitted Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya in a much-ancitipated rematch.
Former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Livia Renata “Livinha” Souza made a strong case for a future title shot by quickly knocking out atomweight champ Ayaka Hamasaki in tonight’s strawweight co-main event. Also at 115, Jodie Esquibel edged out DeAnna “The Argentine Assassin” Bennett.
Evinger (20-5-0, 1 NC) and Kunitskaya (9-3-0, 1 NC) first faced off at Invicta FC 20 in November, in a bout that Kunitskaya initially won by first-round armbar. The result was later overturned due to an error by referee Mike England, and a war of words ensued between Evinger and Kunitskaya, who felt that she was the rightful champion.
In the opening seconds of tonight’s rematch, Evinger closed the distance and tripped Kunitskaya to the mat, but the Russian standout rose to her feet and trapped Evinger in a tight guillotine choke. Evinger eventually freed herself and pushed Kunitskaya to the ground, but Kunitskaya attacked with an armbar attempt that led to duelling leglocks. Kunitskaya secured a kneebar, but Evinger punched her way free and she landed some solid punches and elbows from top position late in the entertaining round.
Kunitskaya fought off Evinger’s takedown attempts in round two by landing knees to the head and body, but Evinger managed to get her down to the ground and she once again struck from top position. When Kunitskaya tried for an armbar, Evinger passed to side control and then took Kunitskaya’s back. She locked on a rear-naked choke and Kunitskaya tapped out at the 4:32 mark of round two.
With tonight’s title-retaining victory, Evinger extended her unbeaten streak to 11 straight fights. She has not officially tasted defeat since dropping a decision to current UFC contender Sara McMann nearly six years ago.
Following a razor-thin decision loss in May, Souza (10-1-0) got back on the winning track in a big way with a quick and vicious stoppage win over Hamasaki (14-2-0) in tonight’s non-title co-feature, which was contested at 115 pounds. Hamasaki, who was hoping to set up a strawweight title fight with a victory, suffered only the second loss of her pro career.
Both fighters landed quick combinations of punches in the early goings, and Souza mixed in kicks to Hamasaki’s lead leg. Two hooks landed for Hamasaki, but she was dropped by a big right hand from Souza, who stood over her downed opponent and rained down more big shots. A barely-conscious Hamasaki rolled to her side and ate nine unnecessary punches as referee Mike England stood by and did nothing. Finally, at the 1:41 mark of the opening round, England intervened for a very late stoppage, giving Souza an impressive knockout victory.
After her Invicta FC return was delayed earlier this year, Esquibel (6-2-0) overcame an overweight opponent en route to a close and competitive Split Decision victory in tonight’s would-be strawweight matchup with Bennett (8-3-0), who missed weight for the third time as an Invicta FC athlete.
The fighters traded cautious kicks and punches in the opening round until Esquibel took Bennett down after catching a kick. Bennett trapped her in a deep armbar and Esquibel appeared to be in trouble, but she persevered and held on until the bell. Esquibel rallied in round two by outstriking Bennett on the feet with stiff jabs and quick combinations. She landed a spinning backfist and more kicks late in the round.
The final round was a very even one on the feet, and both women found success with kicks and punching combinations. Esquibel landed at a greater volume and that proved to be the difference maker on two of the official judges’ scorecards. Judge Henry Gueary scored the fight 29-28 for Bennett, while judges Brett Miller and Fernando Marques both had it 29-28 for Esquibel.
Earlier on tonight’s card, Ashley “Smashley” Cummins (5-3-0) made a big statement in her atomweight debut by defeating former Invicta FC title challenger Amber “The Bully” Brown (6-4-0). The back-and-forth opening round was primarily contested on the ground, where both women threatened with triangle chokes. Cummins took control of the fight in rounds two and three by trapping Brown in shoulder chokes and arm-triangle chokes, and by battering her with elbows from top position. She nearly finished Brown with a rear-naked choke late in the fight and took home a Unanimous Decision victory with scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice.
At 115 pounds, Sunna “Tsunami” Rannveig Davíðsdóttir (2-0-0) survived a shaky second round and handed Mallory Martin (1-1-0) her first professional defeat. Davíðsdóttir got the better of the striking exchanges in round one and she stunned Martin on multiple occasions with lead left hooks. Round two was a completely different story, however, and it was Martin who twice rocked Davíðsdóttir with left hands that had Davíðsdóttir on wobbly legs. Davíðsdóttir recovered and eked out the final round after taking Martin’s back in a scramble on the ground. Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Davíðsdóttir, who remains undefeated.
Despite missing weight for the second straight time, Mirana Maverick (2-0-0) nevertheless kept her perfect pro record intact by submitting Kalyn “.50 Kal” Schwartz (1-1-0) in what became a 120-pound catchweight bout when Maverick came in well over the strawweight limit. Maverick countered Schwartz’s early punches with kicks, but Schwartz took her down against the cage. Maverick got back to half-guard and locked on a tight armbar from the bottom. She rolled through and wrenched back on Schwartz’s arm until Schwartz tapped out at the 3:01 mark of round one.
Opening up tonight’s card, Felicia “FeeNom” Spencer (2-0-0) stayed unbeaten with a Unanimous Decision victory over Madison “Baby Hulk” McElhaney (1-1-0) at featherweight. Both fighters threatened with submission attempts in the close first round, but McElhaney slowed way down in round two and Spencer took over the fight with knees and elbows in the clinch and an armbar attempt in round two. She mounted McElhaney and took her back shortly before the end of round three, which sealed the victory in her favour. Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 twice for Spencer, who is 2-0 for Invicta FC.
Full play-by-play for all bouts on the Invicta FC 22 card can be found here.
(Photo Credit: Invicta Fighting Championships)