Invicta Fighting Championships will crown its inaugural 115-pound champion when standout wrestler Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza faces BJJ black belt Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha at Invicta Fighting Championships 4. The event takes place on January 5th at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
MMARising.com has confirmed plans for the title fight with multiple sources close to the negotiations. Esparza was originally expected to face Ayaka Hamasaki on the card, but Hamasaki will instead defend her Jewels title in December. Gadelha remains unbeaten and makes her Invicta FC debut.
Esparza (8-2-0) is arguably the top wrestler in the 115-pound women’s division and she has made a quick climb up the ranks with key wins throughout her career. Following a razor-thin Split Decision loss to Bellator star Jessica “Jag” Aguilar in June 2011, Esparza rebounded with one of her most impressive performances to date by dominating Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig en route to a lopsided Unanimous Decision victory at XFC 15 in December. The 25-year-old Esparza has since made two appearances for Invicta FC and has scored stoppage wins over submission specialist Sarah “Whie Tiger” Schneider and Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez. A third straight victory inside the Invicta FC cage would earn Esparza the promotion’s first strawweight title.
Gadelha (9-0-0) has long been regarded as one of the brightest female prospects in Brazil. At just 23 years of age, Gadelha is already a highly decorated black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with three world championships and seven national titles in her home country. She has yet to taste defeat in her MMA career and has secured finishes in seven of her nine wins. Following a lengthy injury hiatus, Gadelha returned to MMA in April. Competing outside of Brazil for the first time, Gadelha outpointed Valérie “Trouble” Létourneau in Gatineau, Québec, Canada. She most recently dispatched of Adriana Vieira at Shooto Brazil 34, earning her first victory by way of TKO. Having eyed a move to 115 pounds for quite some time, Gadelha will now make the drop down for the biggest fight of her career.
The Esparza-Gadelha title bout is expected to headline the Invicta FC 4 card. The January 5th all-female event was originally targeted for a new venue in Kansas City, Missouri, but will instead take place at the promotion’s familiar home of Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
Invicta Fighting Championships 4 Fight Card (to date; subject to change):
– Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza vs Claudia “Claudinha” Gadelha [Invicta FC Strawweight Title]
– Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler vs Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis
– Ediene “India” Gomes vs Hiroko “Cat’s Eye” Yamanaka
– Joanne Calderwood vs Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt
– Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres vs “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant
– “Lightning” Liz McCarthy vs Jodie Esquibel