Many questioned Bec Hyatt’s place in Saturday night’s strawweight title fight opposite Carla Esparza at Invicta FC 4 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan., but after the way the fight went down, she’s likely earned a lot of respect from the doubters.
Esparza was initially supposed to have faced Claudia Gadelha, but she fell out of the fight a week ago with a broken nose. Hyatt had been training for a three-round bout with Joanne Calderwood, but when nobody would step up to face Esparza, Hyatt jumped at the chance when Invicta got around to her.
Make no bones about it, Esparza clearly dominated the fight.
She took Hyatt down almost at will, grounding and pounding her round after round, but Hyatt refused to go away.
Although Esparza controlled the fight with her takedowns, any time Hyatt regained her feet or there was a stand-up due to inactivity, she unloaded with all she had. On the mat, Hyatt tried as hard as she could to fight off her back, countering Esparza’s ground and pound with short elbows, but it just wasn’t enough to overtake Esparza’s swarming style.
Esparza became the first Invicta FC strawweight champion winning a unanimous 50-45 decision from all three judges.
“It feels amazing. That was such a hard-fought victory. That was so tough,” said Esparza after the fight, giving a boatload of credit to her last-minute opponent from Australia. “With her experience level, honestly, I though it was gonna be a lot easier than it was, but she came out and made me work for everything.”
Hyatt was a little disappointed after the fight, but the pride of having stepped up to go five rounds with one of the top 115-pound female fighters in the world showed on her face as she declared, “I’ll be back and I’ll be coming to get that belt.”
Shayna Baszler really wanted to put a stamp on her earlier defeat of Alexis Davis by finishing her in their rematch, but it wasn’t to be.
Davis took control of the fight early on, hitting the mat in the first and second rounds, dominating off of her back, attacking for submission after submission after submission.
With Baszler looking a little tired in the final round, Davis took advantage, dominating her on the feet. The fight hit the mat once again, but this time, Davis quickly took Baszler’s back, locking in a rear naked choke. Baszler wouldn’t tap out, so she passed out, Davis becoming the one to put a stamp on the rematch.
The victory puts Davis on a two-fight streak after losing a close decision to Sarah Kaufman under the Strikeforce banner last year. She is now 5-1 in her last six fights and one of Invicta’s top 135-pound contenders.
Things got heated for former teammates Raquel Pennington and Leslie Smith leading up to their fight, but that was nothing compared to the action in the cage.
Pennington came on strong in the opening round, muscling Smith to the mat, and then controlling her in the clinch when they worked back to their feet. But it was Smith that turned up the heat on the feet in rounds two and three, swarming Pennington with punch combinations, and earning a unanimous nod from the judges.
After stumbling against Shayna Baszler at the last Invicta event, Sarah D’Alelio got back on course Saturday night, dominating tough Brazilian Amanda Nunes.
D’Alelio avoided any danger Nunes threw her way on the feet, constantly taking her to the mat throughout the fight, and smothering her with ground and pound. Nunes had a point deducted in round two for an illegal upkick, leading to a final tally of 30-26 from all three judges in D’Alelio’s favor.
Invicta FC 4 Full Results:
-Carla Esparza def. Bec Hyatt by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45), R5
-Alexis Davis def. Shayna Baszler by Technical Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:58, R3
-Leslie Smith def. Raquel Pennington by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-Sarah D’Alelio def. Amanda Nunes by Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26), R3
-Ediane Gomes def. Hiroko Yamanaka by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), R3
-Joanne Calderwood def. Livia von Plettenberg by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26), R3
-Cassie Rodish def. Stephanie Frausto by TKO (Strikes) at 1:04, R3
-Tamikka Brents def. Amanda Bell by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), R3
-Jodie Esquibel def. Liz McCarthy by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27), R3
-Rose Namajunas def. Emily Kagan by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:44, R3
-Tecia Torres def. Paige VanZant by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), R3
-Veronica Rothenhausler def. Katalina Malungahu by KO (Punch) at 1:12, R1
-Laura Sanko def. Cassie Robb by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:07, R2