Two bantamweight fights will happen Thursday, with one determining who will be the top of Invicta’s 135 division. One onlooker at weigh-ins Thursday was Invicta star Raquel Pa’aluhi, who was in the wings and ready if the scales were unfavorable to any of the bantamweights. All of the fighters, however, made weight.
Besides the title match between Tonya Evinger and Irene Aldana, Cage Warriors champion Pannie Kianzad will make her InvictaFC debut against Australia Jessy Rose Clark. In what has been a rebuilding year for the 135 division in Invicta, Pa’aluhi sees the new additions as a positive.
“Pannie (Kianzad) and Jessy Jess (Rose) will bring a lot of depth to the division. Of cource I have my eye on them. I wish I was fighting tonight. I will take on anybody.”
Pa’aluhi is coming off an unanimous decision win over Ediane Gomes in April and has won three straight. She as moved her camp permanently to Las Vegas and it has shown growth in her game.
“The biggest difference from training in Hawaii is on any given day you can have world champions train in the gym.” Pa’aluhi observed. “Learning from them every day. I can ask them ‘what’s you best move’, I can gaining a huge arsenal.”
Pa’alhui will be there cage side Thursday to observe the aftermath and will look to fight either winner on an upcoming card. Pa;aluhi prefers that be the champion.
“I think am in the hunt,” Pa’aluhi told us. “I should be the next one to fight for the belt.”
InvictaFC 12 card is now complete with a total of 10 fights for their card April 24 in Kansas City. The promotion announced the event’s fill card Thursday.
Ediane Gomes vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi
Ediane Gomes (10-3) is coming off a loss to Tonya Evinger in Gomes’s bantamweight debut. At featherweight, she up four straight wins including two wins at Invicta. She will look for her first InvictaFC win at 135.
Pa’aluhi (4-4) is coming off back to back wins, including a decision over Kaitlin Young at InvictaFC 9.
Lacey Schuckman vs. Jenny Liou Shriver
Schuckman (10-8) returns to Invicta having won three of her last five. In her last Invicta outing, she took former champion Michelle Waterson the distance in a split decision loss. Not one to refuse a fight, she has fought as high as 125 and as low as 105 recently. She will fight at 115 for this bout.
Shriver (3-1) suffered her first loss in MMA at InvictaFC 9 but would bounce back with an unanimous decision win over Suzy Watson in December.
Delaney Owen vs. Sharon Jacobson
Owen (3-1) earned a win over Amber Stautzenberger since her InvictaFC loss to J.J. Aldrich. Owen had won five straight before the loss.
Jacobson (2-1) is coming off back to back first round finishes and will be making her InvictaFC debut.
Shannon Sinn vs. Maureen Riordon
Maureen Riordon (0-1) went 3-1 as an amateur before making her pro debut. She lost to UFC fighter Marion Reneau in July of last year and is looking to gain her first win.
Shannon Sinn (1-2) defeated Courtney Himes by armbar in her pro debut, but is coming off back to back decision losses.
Roma Pawelek vs. Sijara Eubanks
Pawelek (1-0) lost only once in her amateur career racking up 10 wins.
Eubanks (2-0 ammy) is a black belt in BJJ and has subbed in both of her wins.
The complete card is as follows:
Katja Kankaanpää vs. Livia Renata Souza – for strawweight title
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Vanessa Porto – flyweight title eliminator
Amanda Bell vs. Faith Van Duin – featherweight title eliminator
Weekly we will be featuring three female fighters who have made waves and yet haven’t been signed to a major promotion (UFC, Invicta, Cage Warriors, and Bellator).
Name: Christina Tatnell
Weight class: Flyweight
Record: 4-1 pro
Since her first loss to Bec Rawlings on short notice, Australia’s Tatnell has been on a tear. She has finished in three of her wins, and is looking to fight more in 2015.
Name: Cynthia Calvillo
Weight class: Flyweight
Record: 7-1 ammy
Having a notable win over InvictaFC fighter Aspen Ladd, the three year vet has yet to be finished. She is currently training at Team Alpha Male with the likes of Uriah Faber, TJ Dillashaw, and Paige VanZant.
Name: Rach Wiley
Weight class: Lightweight
Wiley and her fans have been on a campaign to get her signed to the newly formed Invicta lightweight division. With three finishes under 2 minutes, she has the cred to help the division grow further.
InvictaFC is looking to make waves Friday as sixteen talented athletes are entering the cage for the promotion’s biggest event to date. With the media in town for the UFC, many major MMA websites will be in attendance in what will be the biggest weekend in the women’s divisions history.
Invicta announced Tuesday their first four fights will stream for free on youtube, with the whole card streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Invicta also inked a deal to air the card in Brazil on Combate.
The eight fights will be headlined by the return of Cris Cyborg Justino taking on Charmaine Tweet for the featherweight title. All hit the scales Thursday with two not making weight (explained below).
Aspen Ladd (8-1 amateur): With six finishes, Ladd was one of the hottest amateur prospects before signing to Invicta.
Ana Carolina Vidal (1-0 amateur): The BJJ black belt had problems finding opponents and decided to turn pro.
Ladd’s reputations precedes her as California’s brightest amateur talent. With Ladd’s original opponent out due to injury, she faces a BJJ phenom in Vidal who is looking to prove herself as a crossover sensation.
What to expect:
Vidal’s striking has yet to be tested and this being only her second fight, it will be a tough match with the battle tested Ladd. They say black belts become blue belts once they get hit. Will be interesting to see if Vidal can weather the storm and take it to the ground.
Christine Stanley (125.5) vs Laura Salazar (128.9) *
Christine Stanley (3-1): The knockout specialist is coming off a KO of the Year Award win.
Laura Salazar (3-0): Also a KO specialist, she has yet to see a second round.
* California State Athletic Commission wouldn’t allow Salazar to cut any more weight. Fined 25% of her purse.
Stanley, who is a teammate of Liz Carmouche, has finished all of her wins in less than a minute. This includes a five second spinning head kick KO that got her signed to the promotion. Her solo loss was to Justin Kish by submission.
Salazar also hails from the Golden State and has fought on the Xplode Fight Series. All her wins came withing three minutes.
Strangely enough, the two have never crossed paths until now.
What to expect:
Salazar is taking the match on only a few days notice and up a weight class. The question is will this help or hurt her. With her not cutting that much more weight it could help in terms of endurance. However, Stanley may have a strength advantage coming in.
Both like to bang and have explosive power to knock people down so it will be interesting to see what happens if this goes to round 2.
Amy Montenegro (115.6) vs. Brianna VanBuren (115.5)
Amy Montenegro (5-1): A staple of the northwest scene, she has finished in four of her wins.
Brianna Van Buren (3-1): Impressive in her loss to Stephanie Eggink at XFC, she has won back to back fights.
Montenegro has been a solid talent in the Seattle area and has submitted in three of her wins. She got the call to Invicta after back to back finishes and has been under the radar until now.
VanBuren made some waves in the MMA community with her performance against InvictaFC fighter Stephanie Eggink in a bout in the XFC. She has a notable win over Patricia Vidonic.
What to expect:
Montenegro’s BJJ is solid and is dangerous from the top and on her back. VanBuren has solid wrestling and strong for a fighter in the division. Noting this, it won’t surprise us if this winds up being a stand up battle between two great grapplers.
Jamie Moyle (115.5) vs J.J. Aldrich (115.6)
Jamie Moyle (1-0): The Tuff-n-uff contract winner showed why she deserved to be signed to Invicta in her last win.
J.J. Aldrich (1-0): The experienced amateur made an impression in her Invicta debut.
These are two of the young guns in the strawweight division and both looking to climb up the ladder. With Moyle out of Syndicate MMA and Aldrich out of 303, both have two solid gyms behind them in what should be a close fight.
What to expect:
Both looked great in their feet and on the ground in dominate performances. It’s a tough call where this is going to go but word is Moyle is working on her wrestling. Should be a contender for “Fight of the Night”
Irene Aldana (135) vs Colleen Schneider (135.33)
Irene Aldana (4-1): The Mexican standout has first round finishes in all of her wins.
Colleen Schneider (6-5):The Strikeforce vet has found momentum winning five of her last six.
Aldana is considered by many to be the future of Invicta’s bantamweight division; that is if the UFC doesn’t sign her. Schneider has found a resurgence with her new gym in L.A. and training with UFC fighters Josh Barnett and Shayna Baszler.
What to expect:
Schneider has faced tough opponents before and has weathered storms. She is stronger than she has ever been. Schneider’s wrestling could prove troublesome for Aldana, who needs to keep it on the feet.
DeAnna Bennett (116)* vs Norma Rueda Center (116.8)**
DeAnna Bennett (6-0): The flyweight contender looks to continue her success at strawweight.
Norma Rueda Center (3-1): The InvictaFC vet returns to work her way into the strawweight rankings.
* Bennett was 0.2 pounds off on the first attempt but made weight on the second Will be fined 10% of her purse.
** Center decided not to drop the 0.8 pounds and will forefeit 25% of her purse
Bennett was on the verge of a flyweight title shot with Barb Honchak but surprised most of the fans by dropping down to 115. After Lynn Alvarez dropped out due to injury, Center got the call back to Invica coming off a win over BJJ black belt Michelle Nicolini.
What to expect:
The big question is how Bennett will look after her cut down to strawweight. Center comes from a wrestling background and has some solid endurance behind her. Look for Center to take it to the ground while Bennett to keep it standing.
Alexa Grasso (115) vs Mizuki Inoue (115.25)
Alexa Grasso (6-0): The strawweight phenom could secure her name as a title contender with a win.
Mizuki Inoue (8-3): The Japanese champion is still looking to hold two belts for two different all female promotions.
Much like her teammate Aldana, Grasso is seen as the future of Invicta if the UFC doesn’t grab her first. With four of her wins coming by first round TKO or KO, she is steadily becoming a star and a title contender. DEEP-JEWELS champ Inoue is looking to gain back some momentum after losing to KSW champ Karolina Kowalkiewicz at Invicta 9 by split decision.
What to expect:
The match has “Fight of the Night” written all over it. Grasso’s power and Inoue’s precision striking will make for a unique battle. If either fighter gets the KO it would be surprising, as would if it going to the ground.
Cris Justino (144.5) vs Charmaine Tweet (144.8)
Cris Justino (12-1; 1 NC): The champ is back and is looking to return to #1 in the featherweight division.
Charmaine Tweet (6-4): The Canadian is looking to shock the world.
Justino took a year off from MMA to improve her striking and attempt to make 135. Cyborg comes back ready to defend her title. Tweet has gained momentum with back to back wins and looking upset one of the best pound for pound fighters in the business.
What to expect:
Justino is no stranger to cage rust, and overcomes it well. Cyborg is coming off a Muay Thai loss to current Lion Fight champ Jorina Baar, who proved Justino is human. Tweet’s length should play a factor if she can keep Justino at distance and not get swarmed. Leg kicks could also come into play with Tweet.
Cyborg needs to stay above drama between her and a certain UFC champ and focus on the task at hand.
In what is one of the biggest weekends in the women’s divisions’ history, Invicta looks to gain a lot of traction as they co-headline with the UFC in Los Angeles February 27th weekend.
InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp talked to us Friday to catch us up on what to expect in 2015 and her opinions on PED testing.
Knapp confirmed to us strawweight champion Katja Kankaanpää will be defending her title at InvictaFC 12, with an opponent, date, and location to be announced in the coming weeks. She also plans on revealing the rest of the 2015 schedule.
Knapp affirmed Ayaka Hamasaki will be the first challenger to atomweight champion Herica Tiburcio, with the match to take place on the next few cards.
As for the lingering question of the bantamweight title, she is expecting to crown the champion by the end if the year, but is awaiting certain things to fall into place. She has stated on several occasions Tonya Evinger will be one of the fighters vying for the vacant title.
Concerning the lightweights, she explained the division is still a “work in progress”. Knapp mentioned the possibility for “superfights” in the future; some which could be above 155.
When asked about the growing PED testing failures by some athletes, Knapp could only talk from her own experience within her own promotion.
“If we are in an area that doesn’t require testing, we do it anyway,” Knapp expressed.
She also came to the defense of her champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino who has been fodder of many accusations of her taking PEDs. Justino tested positive in 2011 for Stanozolol, which is used to lose weight.
“I tested her before I even signed her,” Knapp explained. “Justino didn’t know ahead of time. We have her tested in and out of competition and has tested clean every time. I am behind her 100% as long as she does so.”
In other notes, we were able to confirm atomweight standout Simona Soukupova will be returning to the Invicta cage soon. Another European, Mellony Geugjes, will also being making her Invicta debut this year.
Finally, Zoila Frausto is still under the Invicta banner, and will hopefully be returning to strawweight by the end of the year.
As for their upcoming 11th card…
“Expect some surprises,” Knapp emphasized. “The fans will be amazed at what they will see and who is going to be at the event.”
InvictaFC 11 will emanate from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles February 27. The event will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass.
Kristi Lopez has had to bow out of her InvictaFC debut after an injury has sidelined her. A new opponent was announced Thursday for Aspen Ladd.
Ana Carolina Vidal will make her Invicta debuts. The BJJ black belt defeated Jasmine Pouncy by submission in under two minutes this past December. Vidal had won the World BJJ titles and has a notable BJJ win over Kyra Gracie.
Ladd (8-1) is one of the hottest prospects in the amateur division and will be Vidal’s biggest test to date.
InvictaFC 11 will stream on UFC Fight Pass February 27.
Invicta continues to add to their marquee divisions with two solid signings.
InvictaFC vet Cassie Rodish (5-4) has re-signed with the company. The atomweight standout is one of the top prospects in the division and had won 5 of her last six. Her last Invicta appearance saw her lose by submission to Simona Soukupova. After a year absense, Rodish defeated Raquel Magdaleno by rear naked choke in October at RFA.
At flyweight, Brazil’s Mariana Morais has signed to the promotion. Morais (9-2) is on a five fight win streak. Overall, she has finished all but one fight in her wins. Her only losses were to Jennifer Maia and Luciana dos Passos Pereira.
With InvictaFC out for eight months and The Ultimate Fighter 20 keeping a lot of strawweights on a hiatus, you would have expected 2014 to be a slow year.
As it turns out, it was busier than ever with multiple promotions introducing women’s divisions and throwing their hat into the cage. Demand saw a lot of fresh new faces in the pro ranks, and more matches than ever before.
We compiled stats from multiple sources throughout the year and were able to get a nearly accurate accounting of the year that was 2014.
563 – The number of fights this year. This was a 24% increase from last year (415 in 2013). With Invicta doing more cards in 2015 and the UFC gaining a strawweight division, we expect a huge increase next year.
253 – Pro debuters this year, 72 more than last year. With the newly found demand and opportunity pressing for more pro debuts this past year, we actually suspect this number to go down due to the drain of amateur talent.
211 – Number of first round finishes. It more than doubles second round finishes. There was four finishes in championship rounds this year, two in both the 4th and 5th rounds.
211 – Number of fights that went the distance. 78% of that total were unanimous decisions. We saw 4 majority decisions and a record 6 draws.
202 – How many fights were in the U.S. a 22% increase from last year. It topped the list of countries who had female fights. Brazil (152) came in second and Japan (35) third. Brazil increased its total by 44%.
184 – Total submissions this year. It was the most popular way to win a fight edging TKOs by 34. More than half (109) happened in round 1. There was 4th and 5th round subs this year, which are rare.
165 – Fights at flyweight this most of any division. It edged out strawweight by 14 fights but with the 115ers busy with TUF 20, expect them to rebound. Bantamweight (120) came in third with atomweight (50) and featherweight (40) taking forth and fifth. For those interested, eight fights took place at the newly forming lightweight division.
150 – TKOs this year. This is a 32% increase from last year’s total. The first round remains the most popular round to get a TKO with 73% of them happening then.
83 – Armbars – the most popular submission. This increased by 75% from last year. Rear naked chokes came in second with 69. There was two bulldog choke submissions this year.
41 – Number of countries that had female fights this year. Although the actual number went up to 9, six countries didn’t have pro female fights this year but had them in 2013 – Scotland, Spain, India, Paraguay, Croatia, and Belgium. Several newcomers to the list are Moldova, Romania, and Thailand. If you include amateur fights, the number jumps to 47.
32 – Pro female fights in California, the most by a US state, smashing 2013’s mark of 9. It also nearly doubles the 2nd place finisher, Texas (18). In third was Nevada with 16 with all those fights happening in Las Vegas.
31 – Female fights in the UFC, the most by any organization. The UFC more than doubles their 2013 total (13). It only beat DEEP by one fight. Even though they came late to the party this year, Invicta managed to take the third spot with 27. With a new strawweight division in the UFC, it will be a horse race between them and Invicta in 2015.
15 – Recorded knockouts this year. Although several we didn’t consider “pure KOs”, this was less than last year’s total of 22.
6 – “Official” tournaments happened this year. Two XFC tournaments will crown season champions next year. There were 3 one night tournaments; two for MMA Super Heroes and the other was for Princesses of Pain. (TUF 20 was considered an exhibition tournament and only the finals were on the official records.)
6 – New world champions crowned this year. Two champions lost defending their title (DEEP-JEWELS 116 champion Emi Tomimastu and InvictaFC atomweight champion Michelle Waterson). Three won newly created titles – Carla Esparza (UFC strawweight); Pannie Kianzad (Cage Warriors bantamweight), and Takayo Hashi (Jewels 135 title).
1 – Heck of a historic year. UFC adds a new division, Invicta rises again, and Brazil grows its WMMA scene.
Seven year veteran Lynn Alvarez has re-signed to Invicta. The promotion made the announcement Tuesday.
Alvarez (6-3) is one of the top prospects at strawweight, having competed in the Bellator 115 tournament in 2010. She has notable wins over fellow InvictaFC fighters Michelle Waterson and Michelle Ould. Her most recent win saw her submit Amber Stautzenberger in 45 seconds.
Her only three losses were to two of the top fighters in the Top 10 (Jessica Aguilar and Carla Esparza) and to Angela Magana. Alvarez would lose to Esparza in her InvictaFC debut.
Alvarez is currently training her striking at Diesel Muay Thai in Vegas, and has seen vast improvement as shown in her fight with Stautzenberger .
Alvarez was supposed to make her debut with the World Series of Fighting last year, but an injury had her opponent back out.
No word on when Alvarez will be making her promotional return to Invicta.
In what was a comeback year for Invicta, promotion President Shannon Knapp has sketched out a plan for the promotion come 2015. Knapp was on MMA Junkie Radio Friday to talk about where the promotion is heading in the new year.
Six events are planned with places like Denver, Ohio, and a return to Houston in the works. Word is Cyborg Justino will kick off the year defending her featherweight title in February. An announcement is expected at InvictaFC’s event Friday night on where the fight will take place, her opponent, and an exact date.
We should also to expect Friday shows more often.
Knapp hinted at a Vegas date, which could piggy back off of an UFC event. The idea would be to get the mainstream MMA media to cover their events more often and to expose more UFC fans to their product.
Invicta will also be using the UFC’s “octagon” style cage in future events.
After what has been a late start this year for Invicta, this next year will hopefully see Invicta build off its new found momentum.