Having survived their debut year to critical success, Invicta FC look to move ever onward and upward and have assembled probably the strongest WMMA card ever put together for their fifth show.
With a title defence, a new title being won and three of the biggest names in WMMA in supporting matches as well as a host of experienced and promising talent, this card is undoubtedly stacked. By the end of the night, this card may have featured up to SIX Women who have been hailed as legitimate world champions. Wow.
The main event features Invicta’s first ever champion, Atomweight queen Jessica Penne (10-1) making the first defence of her belt against the popular Michelle Waterson (10-3) in a match that we’ve covered in depth elsewhere.
Suffice to say, this bout pits one of WMMA’s highest ranked pound for pound fighters against a proven finisher with the weight of Jackson-Winklejohn’s celebrated coaches behind her.
With both girls having more than half their wins via submission, a compelling ground battle could be expected but these two are more than happy and capable of trading on the feet. Expect pace, expect technique.
The co-main event is to decide the first ever Invicta Flyweight title (which we’ve also covered in depth in its own article) between Vanessa Porto (15-5) and Barb Honchak (7-2) should be an exciting and close fought contest, between the experienced Porto and tough as nails Honchak.
Finding herself further down the card than she has been used to, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (10-1) makes her Invicta debut against late replacement Fiona Muxlow (6-2) in a match that has real significance for the promotion and indeed the whole landscape of the Women’s 145lb division.
You have to think a win would earn “Cyborg” a shot at Invicta’s not-yet-awarded Featherweight title, logically against Marloes Coenen and while Muxlow (one of three Aussies on the card ) wasn’t immediately in that conversation before, if she could become the first woman in almost eight years to defeat Santos, her case would be made.
That’s a pretty stacked card already?
There’s more? Cool.
Former Strikeforce Bantamweight champion, Sarah Kaufman (15-2) makes her Invicta debut against a fighter who’s already become a company mainstay in the shape of the popular, Leslie Smith (5-2-1).
Kaufman is one of the biggest names in WMMA as her list of victories over the likes of Shayna Baszler, Miesha Tate, Liz Carmouche and Alexis Davis (twice) attests. A knockout artist who’s only weakness appears to be a tendency to be submitted via armbar by insanely high level grapplers, her losses to Coenen and Rousey are nothing to be ashamed of.
Smith is a fellow striker and has thus far never been stopped in her MMA career. Expect a war, with a decision win one way or another more than likely.
Next up, another former champion from another promotion Zoila Frausto-Gurgel (12-2) who left Bellator and her 115lb world title behind in search of more consistent competition (she’s fought just three times since winning the belt two and a half years ago) and a new challenge at Flyweight.
With victories over the likes of Rosi Sexton, Jessica Penna, Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fuji tempered by her December loss to Jessica Eye, “The Warrior Princess” is sure to be keen to make an impression, with one eye on that flyweight title match later in the evening.
Facing her is fellow promotional debutant, the submission specialist Jennifer Maia (6-2-1) who is definitely not here to make up the numbers and will be encouraged by Fausto-Gurgel’s history of being susceptible to submissions.
Six year veteran Kaitlin Young (7-7-1) puts her level record on the line against undefeated knockout artist Lauren Taylor (5-0). Young has tangled with the best and is in afraid to trade in the stand up but riding a 0-2-1 streak, she may well opt for a more cautious approach, looking to her experience to give her an edge over Taylor.
Julia Budd (4-2) has been making her intent to fight for the Invicta 145 title very clear, and that’s not as daft as her record might suggest. Dig a bit further and you see losses to top ranked fighters like Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes, a kickboxing victory over Gina Carano, back when that was truly something meaningful and three of her four wins by brutal stoppage. If she can improve her current run to 3-0, why not?
Standing in the way is Mollie Estes (1-1) who impressed in her Invicta debut, taking Olympic medallist Randi Miller into the third round. While not as imposing or experienced an opponent as Budd’s original adversary, Fiona Muxlow, ‘Miss Molly’ is not to be overlooked.
Rounding off the main card we have the polarising Bec “Rowdy” Hyatt (4-2) (another one of those Aussies ) who returns from her gutsy performance at Invicta FC 4, to face decorated kick boxer and undefeated MMA fighter Jasminka Cive (5-0).
Hyatt has won a lot of fans (and sponsors) between cards and her canny social media presence seems to have annoyed Cive’s camp leading to some entertaining sniping leading up to the match.
Inside the cage, Hyatt is an exciting, all action competitor but Cive’s standup pedigree is indisputable. I’d never bet against a fighter as game as Bec, especially after almost sneaking the TKO win over Carla Esparza in her last bout, but sometimes that only takes you so far.
I’ll skim over the prelims, lest I write the longest event preview ever, but suffice to say I’m very much looking forward to seeing unbeaten Finn, Katja Kankaanpaa (7-0-1) face off with Juliana Carniero Lima (5-0) as I think we’re looking at two potential champions of the future.
I’m also looking forward to the Invicta debut of the third Aussie on the card, Alex Chambers (3-1) and the sophomore performance of the always impressive, and more importantly FUN, Rose Namajunas (1-0).
Go buy your iPPV ticket at http://www.invictafc.com NOW.
MAIN (Online PPV, 10 p.m. ET)
• Jessica Penne vs. Michelle Waterson – for atomweight title
• Barb Honchak vs. Vanessa Porto – for inaugural flyweight title
• Fiona Muxlow vs. Cristiane Santos
• Sarah Kaufman vs. Leslie Smith
• Zoila Frausto Gurgel vs. Jennifer Maia
• Lauren Taylor vs. Kaitlin Young
• Julia Budd vs. Mollie Estes
• Jasminka Cive vs. Bec Hyatt
PRELIMINARY (Online PPV, 7 p.m. ET)
• Cassie Rodish vs. Simona Soukupova
• Jessamyn Duke vs. Miriam Nakamoto
• Katja Kankaanpaa vs. Juliana Carnerio Lima
• Alexandra Chambers vs. Jodie Esquibel
• Kathina Catron vs. Rose Namajunas