The venue looked amazing (and crowded) as Invicta ended the year with one of the biggest upsets in promotional history.
Here is a recap of what happened, our thoughts, and what could be next for each fighter.
All photos courtesy Esther Lin/InvictaFC
Our notes: This fight shocked a lot of the WMMA world as not many thought Tiburcio could beat Waterson. Unranked at atomweight, we knew the 21 year old would be tougher than Waterson’s last challenger. Having two losses (one by a controversial decision, the other to a much heavier Claudia Gadelha) it may have threw a lot of people off.
What went right for Tiburcio: Her strength is her ground and that was where it went. It didn’t matter if she was on top or bottom, she was able to make the BJJ game her own.
What went wrong for Waterson: Not keeping it standing. This is obviously easier said than done against a fighter wanting to take it to the mat. Waterson looked like she just got caught in that guillotine, and it won’t happen again.
What’s next for Tiburcio: She will have the same problem that Waterson has had as champion – finding qualified opponents. Jodie Esquibel is an option, but knowing her and the champ are teammates, will Waterson concede to Esquibel and let her have a run for the belt or will Esquibel remain gatekeeper with Waterson trying to regain her gold.
What’s next for Waterson: InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp isn’t a fan of immediate title rematches. The clear choice seems to be Waterson against Ayaka Hamasaki (if Hamasaki doesn’t lose on New Years Eve). A win would set Waterson for a rematch.
Our notes: For a person who says she doesn’t know armbars, Evinger seems to have an ability to find them. Dandois seemed a bit gun shy in terms of striking, and was basically surviving most of the fight. Although she didn’t look great, got to give her some slack from that long lay off.
What went right for Evinger: Pretty much everything. Her ground game has vastly improved since making Houston’s Gracie Barra one of her home gyms.
What went wrong for Dandois: Her striking game needs vast improvement. This is an easy parallel to Roxanne Modafferi, who’s striking game was lacking until she moved to Syndicate MMA.
What’s Next for Evinger: A 135 title shot according to Shannon Knapp in an interview with WMMA Round-up. Against who seems to be the question. The likely opponent could be the undefeated Irene Aldana, who made a name for herself with a solid win over Peggy Morgan.
What’s Next for Dandois: She needs test herself against younger but more experienced talent. Kelly McGill or Maureen Riordan seems to be options.
Our notes: It went like we thought it would; but the Texas judging was awkward as per usual, as we saw it unanimous. Even though Lee has belts in BJJ and judo, it doesn’t always mean she can adapt her skills in the cage right away. The vast experience of Modafferi and the holes in Lee’s game were exposed. No one is taking away from Lee, who took the match on short notice to a much more seasoned opponent.
What went right for Modafferi: Getting it to the ground and not trying to hang in the pocket with Lee. Modafferi claimed to want her first pure KO in this fight, but we aren’t sure if she was serious or it was just a Jedi mind trick. We have seen Modafferi’s striking game shine in her past two bouts, but seeing Modafferi’s ground game again made us nostalgic.
What went wrong for Lee: Not keeping it standing. Lee needed to engage in a boxing war with Moddafferi and it simply didn’t happen. Lee needs to do more “jits with mitts” and improve her MMA ground game.
What’s next for Modafferi: Although impressive, Modafferi’s win doesn’t guarantee her a rematch against champion Barb Honchak. Our bet is she gets that fight with Vanessa Porto next, with the winner getting a shot at the flyweight title.
What’s Next for Lee: Even with the loss, Lee is still a top prospect. If she really wants to improve her skills on the ground, a great test would be in another rising star Rachel Ostovich.
Our notes: It was a close fight, but to have it 30-27 for Bennett was a bit of stretch. We saw Maia having won the last two rounds, but round 3 could be argued either way. Both were able to hang on the feet and on the ground. It was a pretty good pace in this match.
What went right for Bennett: The takedown late in round 1 and Bennett’s counter punching. We really wish we could have seen actual striking stats for this fight.
What went wrong for Maia: Texas judging. Maia needs to start getting finishes so the judges are out of the equation.
What’s next for Bennett: A flyweight title shot. Even though the fight was close, a win is a win and she should be ranked at least #3 in next month’s Unified rankings. Having the champion face a fresh and young undefeated opponent makes a lot more sense.
What’s Next for Maia: What makes the most sense is Michelle Ould. Both are coming off losses and are looking to rebound.
Our notes: Another close one which could have gone either way. We had it 29-28 Warwo, but again, no way we could have seen it 30-27 Morgan. Both were throwing bombs.
What went right for Morgan: Going back up to 145. She looked stronger and faster than her past two fights.
What went wrong for Warwo: Engaging Morgan in the clinch. Morgan’s short shots caused visible damage to Warwo and might have been the reason the judges scored it in Morgan’s favor.
What’s next for Morgan: Morgan is still getting her feet wet at featherweight and has a long way to go before she could be on a level of a Cyborg Justino. Faith Van Duin and Maria Hougaard seem likely candidates.
What’s next for Wawro: There is some questions about Warwo missing weight, which Warwo was quick to apologize about and guaranteed to make 145 next time. With that in mind, just like Morgan, Duin and Hougaard makes the most sense.
Our notes: We knew that this was going to be a hard hitting fight and it didn’t disappoint. Grasso got rocked once but quickly recovered to get the TKO win. There was some controversy as to it being an early stoppage. We leave that to the discretion of the referee.
What went right for Grasso: Quicker hands. Both could land with power and accuracy but Grasso landed faster combos and literally was “quicker to the punch”.
What went wrong for Gray: Not taking it to the mat. If you know it’s going to be a close firefight on the feet, the best way to neutralize it is to take it to the ground. Grasso’s ground has yet to be tested.
What’s next for Grasso: Stephanie Eggink is looking to get a title rematch and after defeating a surging talent like Gray, hard not to see Grasso in the top 10 next month. This would make sense as a title eliminator.
What’s Next for Gray: Gray might have gotten too much too fast. JJ Aldrich is looking for a solid challenge now and this would be a great step up for her and for Gray to rebound.
Our notes: It was a tough match for Robb to take against a skilled striker in Frey. Ultimately it was a mistake by Robb to give up her back that cost her.
What went right for Frey: Her striking and cage awareness. She was able to take the back standing and sink in the choke.
What went wrong for Robb: Clinch work. She need to pummel and not get too sideways with Frey against the fence.
What’s next for Frey: One fighter we haven’t seen recently is Cassie Rodish and would be a great match for both to get back in the title hunt.
What’s next for Robb: With three straight losses it has to be back to the drawing board for Robb. Maybe some out of promotion matches for her against some up and coming talent.
Our notes: The set the tone for the event and also how the Texas judging was going to be. We saw it all Ostovich throughout, with some highlight reel takedowns. She is another talent that can shine under the InvictaFC banner.
What went right for Ostovich: Her wrestling. Some of the more creative takedowns we’ve seen including a leg scissor one we have never seen before. Ostovich’s striking was also on point.
What went wrong for Johnson: She didn’t make it a BJJ game from the top. Would have been nice to see Johnson work sweeps and attack more with submissions.
What’s Next for Ostovich: With both stars rising, a fight between her and Andrea Lee would bring a lot of interest.
What’s Next for Johnson: With the loss, she actually has a few to chose from. Shannon Sinn make sense. Also the debuting Emily Corso.