InvictaFC 18 Primer

Invicta heads back to home base in Kansas City, Missouri for the first time since September with their 18th offering.

For the first time, a title won’t be defended on an InvictaFC card but a new #1 contenders will be determined in the main event. Alexa Grasso returns to Invicta as she takes on Jodie Esquibel to determine a number 1 contender for the strawweight title.

A new co-main sees Christine Stanley face the undefeated Agnieszka Niedzwiedz. Claudia Rey and Talia Santos were unable to make it into the US from Brazil, with Invicta unable to find Irene Aldana an opponent. Both Brazilians and Aldana will fight on the yet to be announced InvictaFC 19 card, which is expected for September.

All but two fighters made weight as Aspen Ladd and Christine Stanley came in a few pounds heavy. Each will give up 25% of their purse to their opponent.

Eight fights will stream live on UFC Fight Pass Friday night at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.

Here is our breakdown of the fights and the official weigh-in results.

Photos Courtesy Scott Hirano, Invicta FC

Main Event

Alexa Grasso (115.4) vs. Jodie Esquibel (115.8) – Strawweight Title Eliminator

Grasso vs Esquibel_001

The Fighters:

Alexa Grasso (7-0): After a long wait due to injuries and illness, the popular strawweight returns to action.

Jodie Esquibel (5-1): Coming off a close loss on TUF 23, Esquibel returns to action for redemption.

The Storyline:

It has been over a year since Grasso has fought due to injuries and illnesses. During that time Livia Souza reigned and was expected to fight the Mexican star on a few occasions. With Angela Hill on top now, Grasso is finally looking to get her title shot.

In her way is Jodie Esquibel, who has held a strong argument for an atomweight title shot for the past year. She moved up to 115 to test her skills for the Ultimate Fighter 23 losing a controversial split decision to Ashley Yoder to try to get into the house. Many felt she deserved to sign to the UFC off the fight. A win gets her in title contention.

What to expect:

Both are heavy handed strikers, with Esquibel being more technical and Grasso having more power. It will be interesting if it goes to the ground, but expect a heated strikers battle in what will be a hard one to call. Will cage rust be a factor for Grasso or will we see the Grasso of old? Will Esquibel  continue her run at Invicta?

C0-Main Event

Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (125.9) vs. Christine Stanley (128.6)*

Niedzwiedz vs Stanley_002

The Fighters:

Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (7-0): The Polish sensation is back in action and looking to impress the US audiences.

Christine Stanley (5-1): The talented striker looks to etch her name into flyweight title contention.

The Storyline:

Niedzwiedz was one of the hottest prospects in MMA and was in line to become the Cage Warriors bantamweight champion in 2014. She soon found out she was pregnant and took two years off. Now at flyweight, she looks to regain momentum.

Stanley is coming in as a last minute replacement, having dominated her last four opponents. Training with champion Angela Hill at Alliance MMA, she has made a major impact in the division in a short time.

Niedzwiedz has needled Stanley on twitter for missing weight, which didn’t sit well with the last minute replacement.

What to expect:

Cage rust is something Niedzwiedz has to contend with. When she was at the top of her game, she was the most well rounded fight not signed to a major U.S. organization. Stanley’s power is well known, and is gaining a slid ground game as proven in her last fight. It maybe a closer fight than people expect.

Both were ready to rumble at weigh-ins and we can expect fistic fireworks come Friday night.

Main Card

Cindy Dandois (135.4) vs. Jessamyn Duke (1359)

Dandois vs Duke_001

The Fighters:

Cindy Dandois (6-2): Going back down to 135, Dandois is looking for her first win in Invicta in the division.

Jessamyn Duke (3-4): Duke is looking to end a four fight skid and get her career back on track.

The Storyline:

Two fan favorite fighters, both need a win solid win. Dandois has seen more success at 145, but is pressing for a rematch with the champion Tonya Evinger. Duke has seen better days in her career and is looking to turn it around and rebuild.

What to expect:

Duke’s longer reach both in striking and grappling could be problematic for Dandois. The judo ace in Dandois is know to be tricky on the ground, however, especially from the bottom.

Megan Anderson (146) vs. Peggy Morgan (144.6)

Anderson vs Morgan

The Fighters:

Megan Anderson (6-2): The Australian transplant is ready to fight in her adoptive hometown.

Peggy Morgan (4-3): After a win outside of Invicta, Morgan is ready to climb the featherweight ranks.

The Storyline:

Anderson’s move to Kansas City has be fruitful as she has got back to back stoppages since moving her camp there. Morgan took some time away from Invicta to improve her game and get a win, and feels now is the time for her to run the division.

What to expect:

Anderson has a lot of momentum and has found her grove in the striking department. Morgan will have a test, but has proven to be tough against heavy strikers.

Simona Soukupova (105.6) vs. Tessa Simpson (106)

Soukupova vs Simpson_001

The Fighters:

Simona Soukupova (5-3-1): Returning to Invicta after a three year absence, she is looking to get back in the atomweight title hunt.

Tessa Simpson (4-1): The atomweight sensation makes her InvictaFC debut.

The Storyline:

Soukupova took a few years off from competing to focus on her education back in Europe. She returned to action last year getting a KO win. Simpson has had big leaps in when she has fought, returning to action after a three year absence in win in Guam in a submission of year candidate with a mounted triangle keylock. Both are a two wins away from a title fight.

What to expect:

Both known for their submissions, Soukupova has gained some power and has some experience behind her. Simpson’s striking maybe a key in her winning.

Mizuki Inoue (115.1) vs. Lynn Alvarez (114.8)

Mizuki vs Alvarez_002

The Fighters:

Mizuki Inoue (11-4): The Japanese star looks to get back into title contention.

Lynn Alvarez (6-3): The long time vet looks to show a new generation her striking skills.

The Storyline:

Inoue has won three straight since her loss to Grasso, including defending her 115 title in Deep-Jewels.  With back to back submissions, she looks to follow Ayaka Hamsaki’s lead in being both a D-J and Invicta champion.

Alvarez was signed to Invicta last year, but an injury forced her off delay her debut. Currently training striking with Master Toddy’s son, she showed a much improved game against Amber Stautzenberger in 2014.

What to expect:

Our pick for a possible “Fight of the Night”, both have creative striking and solid ground games. Could prove to be a chess match.

Aspen Ladd (138.1)* vs. Jessica Hoy (135)

Ladd vs Hoy_001

The Fighters:

Aspen Ladd (3-0): The young gun looks to continue her win streak.

Jessica Hoy (1-0): Another prospect looks to earn her stripes in the competitive bantamweight division.

The Storyline:

As the bantamweight division as a whole need more stars, these two are the future. Ladd has seemed unstoppable in Invicta. Hoy is dropping down in weight after a win over Jessica Eve Richer in her pro debut.

What to expect:

Size may play a factor in Hoy, but Ladd loves a good finish, be it a TKO or a submission. Don’t blink on this one.

Sijara Eubanks (13) vs. Amberlynn Orr (13)

Eubanks vs Orr_001

The Fighters:

Sijara Eubanks (1-1): Coming off her first loss as a pro, Sarge looks to get over .500.

Amberlynn Orr (11-1 amateur): The well touted amateur prospect looks for her first pro win.

The Storyline:

After defeating Gina Begley in her Invicta debut, Eubanks lost to current undefeated UFC bantamweight Katlyn Chookagian. Orr has held multiple amateur titles and was one of the biggest prospects at 135 when Invicta signed her.

What to expect:

Orr has finished in most of her fights, with Eubanks never letting it happen. Will the immovable object move or will the irresistible force be stopped?

  • Both Aspen Ladd and Christine Stanley came in over weight and will forfeit 25% of their purse to their opponent 

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