InvictaFC 22 Primer

It is a rematch that will end the controversy.

Tonya Evinger will once again defend her title against Yana Kunitskaya at InvictaFC 22 in Kansas City Saturday. Their first bout ended when Evinger tapped out to an armbar, but the referee’s insistence that Evinger’s defense of the armbar (placing a foot on Kunitsyaya’s head) was illegal lead to a successful appeal and turning the first bout into a no-contest. Kunitskaya looks to hold the gold once again at the end of the night.

The co-main event sees atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki make her way back up to strawweight taking on former champion Livia Renata Souza in what will be a title eliminator.

Three fighters missed weight: DeAnna Bennett (1.6 lbs over), Janaisa Morandin (5.2 lbs over) and Miranda Maverick (4.5 lbs over). Bennett and Maverick will give up 25% of their purse to their opponent, while the Morandin versus Frey bout was scratched. (Overweights marked by an “*” below.)

Here is a breakdown of the remaining seven fights with the weigh-in results.

(Photos courtesy Esther Lin, Invicta FC)

Main Event

Tonya Evinger (134.8; champion) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (134.8) – Bantamweight title

Tonya Evinger and Yana Kunitskaya

The Fighters:

Tonya Evinger (18-5; 1NC): The champion looks to be once again undisputed.

Yana Kunitskaya (9-2; 1NC): The challenger wants to gain the gold she feels is rightfully hers.

The Storyline:

It was the biggest upset in InvictaFC history when Yana Kunitskaya defeated Tonya Evinger last December. Evinger was fighting an armbar by stepping on Kunitskaya’s face, but the referee wasn’t aware that this was legal and stopped Evinger from using it, forcing the tap. Evinger looks to make no doubt that she is champion, with Kunitskaya wanting to repeat her upset win.

What to Expect:

Evinger won’t make the same mistake twice, so look for her to use distance and wrestling to keep Kunitskaya off the clinch. Kunitskaya wishes to make it a war against the cage and look for opportunities to strike in close or get the submissions on a takedown. Kunitskaya has been spending the past month at Jackson’s MMA. and we could see more strategy coming this fight.

Co-Main Event

Ayaka Hamasaki (115.7) vs Livia Renata Souza (115)

Ayaka Hamasaki and Livia Souza

The Fighters:

Ayaka Hamasaki (15-1): The atomweight champion wants to be the first to hold two InvictaFC titles.

Livia Renata Souza (9-1): The former champ wants to get her title back.

The Storyline:

With champion Angela Hill now in the UFC, Invicta is down a champion. Hamasaki is looking to make the leap as well, and is hoping a win will get her there, if not a title shot. Souza lost to Hill and a win would also get her into the sights of the UFC and/or a title shot.

What to Expect:

Both are well rounded fighters and could be considered a “Fight of the Night” candidate. Look for Hamasaki’s experience to play a factor.

Main Card

DeAnna Bennett* (117.6) vs Jodie Esquibel (115.5)

Deanna Bennett and Jodie Esquibel

The Fighters:

DeAnna Bennett (8-2): Coming off back to back losses, Bennett returns to strawweight.

Jodie Esquibel (5-2): Th perennial title contender looks to solidify her spot.

The Storyline:

Bennett saw a lot of changes in 2016, the biggest being leaving her old gym for a new one – Four 7 Training center. It was an adjustment as she lost two straight against two of the toughest fighters in the promotion. This on top of her father passing away two weeks before she was set to face Esquibel at InvicaFC 21. After a year away, she hopes to gain a victory.

Esquibel had found success at 105, but moved up in hopes of making the UFC. He tough lost on TUF 23 didn’t discourage her, as she went toe to toe with Alexa Grasso, in which she lost by decision. Coming form Jackson/Wink MMA, she has one of the toughest teams behind her.

What to Expect:

Should be a striker’s delight and the big question lies in if Bennett can use her reach and her mindset.

Amber Brown (105.9) vs Ashley Cummins (105.9)

Amber Brown and Ashley Cummins

The Fighters:

Amber Brown (6-3): Off back to back losses, the Bully comes back to atomweight

Ashley Cummins (4-2): The St. Louis police officer returns to the InvictaFC cage.

The Storyline:

After a heartbreaking loss to atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki, Brown went up to try her skills at strawweight. She lost to TUF 23 vet Ashley Yoder at InvictaFC 20 and decided to drop back to 105 in hopes to regain momentum and a possible title shot. She trains out of Elevation Fight Team, and stated that the cut down was one of the easiest in her career.

Cummins was on a three fight skid at 115 against three of the division’s toughest fighters. After a year off and a change of gyms, Cummins came back with a Submission of the Year nominee knee choke over Nicole Smith at Bellator. She will be making her atomweight debut.

What to Expect:

Brown lives up to her nickname as “The Bully” with her pressing boxing style and follows up with rear naked chokes. It will be hard to bully Cummins, whose ground game has improved in her year outside the cage.

Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (115.8) vs Mallory Martin (114.8)

Sunna Davidsdottir and Mallory Martin

The Fighters:

Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (1-0): The IMMAF champion looks to continue her run as a pro

Mallory Martin (1-0): The amateur standout looks to be the next star at 115.

The Storyline:

Both coming up massive wins, Davidsdottir and Martin had great amateur careers. Martin is a former teammate of Cat Zinagno nad has been training out of Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand. Iceland’s Davidsdottir trains out of UFC star Gunnar Nelson’s gym and is one of the top females in the region. Should be noted Davidsdottir also trained at Tiger Muay Thai in 2013 and will have UFC fighter Joanne Calderwood in her corner.

What to Expect:

Another great striking bout, expect a clinch battle to commence against the fence.

Kal Holliday (115.9) vs Miranda Maverick (120.5)*

Kal Holliday and Miranda Maverick

The Fighters:

Kal Holliday (1-0): The wrestler looks to continue her run at strawweight.

Miranda Maverick (1-0): The amateur standout looks to impress once again

The Storyline:

Holliday has split training between collegiate wrestling and the Rogue Combat Team in Oregon. She had an impressive win over Muay Thai champ Tiffany Van Soest in her pro debut.

Maverick has fought at 125 and 115 during her amateur career fighting out of Springfield Fight Club in Missouri, home of UFC fighter Zak Cummins. She looked great in her pro debut getting a choke over Samantha Diaz this past November.

What to Expect:

Both with wrestling bases, it will be the striking that maybe the x-factor.

Felicia Spencer (146) vs Madison McElhaney (146)

Felicia Spencer and Madison McElheney

The Fighters:

Felicia Spencer (1-0): The Tuff-n-uff champion drops to featherweight

Madison McElhaney (1-0): The California prospect makes her promotional debut.

The Storyline:

With the featherweight division being spotlighted as of late, Spenser is dropping down from 155 to 145 in order to get her shot at the UFC or a shot at the title. A former teammate of UFC star Jamie Moyle, Spenser was impressive in her promotional debut against Rach Wiley.

Out of the growing team of females at Fortune Gym in Hollywood, California, she got a huge win over Bryanna Fissori this past December.

What to Expect:

Spenser has a lot more experience, but McElhaney has a great boxing base that could prove problematic.

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