Invicta FC Strawweight Champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza will defend her title for the first time at Invicta Fighting Championships 6 in the summer. Esparza is expected to face Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion Ayaka Hamasaki on the card, which is targeted for late June or mid-July.
MMARising.com confirmed plans for the title fight with sources close to the negotiations on Friday. The matchup is subject to commission approval. Esparza captured the belt by defeating late replacement Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt in January. Hamasaki made a successful Invicta FC debut this past July.
Esparza (9-2-0) has made a steady climb up the strawweight rankings with victories in six of her past seven fights. The two-time All-American wrestler debuted for Invicta FC on the promotion’s second card and picked up back-to-back TKO triumphs over Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider and Lynn “Lights Out” Alvarez. In January, Esparza endured a pair of opponent changes and ultimately faced Hyatt on short notice for the inaugural Invicta FC strawweight title. After five hard-fought rounds, Esparza prevailed via Unanimous Decision to become the promotion’s first champion at 115 pounds.
Hamasaki (9-0-0), a protégé of legendary fighter Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii, has yet to taste defeat in any of her pro or amateur bouts. In December 2010, she defeated Sakura Nomura and Seo Hee Ham in one night to become the first Jewels Lightweight Queen Champion at 114 pounds. Hamasaki later handed teen prodigy Mizuki Inoue the lone defeat of her career and successfully defended her Jewels title three times against the promotion’s top contenders. At Invicta FC 2 in July, she made her North American debut and submitted Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman in the third round.
The champion versus champion bout between Esparza and Hamasaki was originally scheduled to take place at Invicta FC 4 in January, but Hamasaki was forced to withdraw in order to defend her Jewels title against Emi “Kamikaze Angel” Fujino in Japan. She now looks to capture a second championship when she returns to Invicta FC this summer. Verbal agreements are in place for the 115-pound title tilt, but bout agreements have not yet been signed.
Invicta Fighting Championships 6 is targeted for late June or mid-July in Kansas City, Missouri, though no official date or venue has been announced by the promotion. The event will be headlined by an Invicta FC Featherweight Championship rematch between former Strikeforce titleholders Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Marloes “Rumina” Coenen. Justino prevailed in the pair’s first meeting in January 2010.