Invicta FC returned to the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City for its sixth event, but its first on traditional satellite and cable TV pay-per-view. Company president Shannon Knapp couldn’t have picked a higher profile event to make the move to PPV, as a rematch three years in the making headlined the fight card.
Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Marloes Coenen first met three-and-a-half years ago with Cyborg, then the Strikeforce 145-pound champion, winning by way of TKO stoppage in the third round.
On Saturday night, they met with the inaugural Invicta FC featherweight championship on the line.
The belt that was on the line was about the only difference from their first fight to this one. Much like their first fight, Cyborg was clearly still the much more aggressive, stronger, and more powerful fighter.
Coenen opened strong, attacking with leg kicks and punch combinations, but it was evident from the first round that Cyborg was in full control of the fight.
Every time Coenen threw a punch, Cyborg ignored it and answered with two more powerful punches in return. When Coenen shot for the takedown, Cyborg shucked her off or clinched and tossed her to the mat like a rag doll.
When hit the mat, Cyborg landed power punches, then backed off and forced Coenen back into her stand-up world.
One noticeable difference, however, was Cyborg’s approach. In the past, she was often undisciplined, unleashing power shots until her opponent crumpled to the mat, risking her gas tank in the process.
Against Coenen, Cyborg was much more calculated in her approach, picking high percentage power shots, doing a significant amount of damage, but never throwing caution to the wind until late in the fight when she knew she could finish.
Cyborg staggered Coenen with a right cross in the fourth round, but even then she went to the mat and worked position. She quickly moved into full mount, picking her shots, working the body and forcing Coenen to uncover. Still she waited, moving Coenen to the fence before unleashing a brutal flurry that left her defenseless, referee Big John McCarthy forced to step in to stop the fight.
“I’m very happy, the champion come back,” said an emotional Cyborg following the fight, the newly minted Invicta FC featherweight championship belt wrapped around her waist.
“I train every day. I training for two months. I train every day, hard,” she continued. “I am very excited to fight for Invicta. I want to grow Invicta. People who see Invicta see me.”
Jewels 115-pound champion Ayaka Hamasaki was originally supposed to challenge Invicta strawweight titleholder Carla Esparza, but her plans changed when Esparza withdrew from the bout due to a knee injury.
She instead put her undefeated record, and title shot, on the line against fellow-undefeated fighter Claudia Gadelha.
Gadelha did well on the ground the entire opening frame, but had a point deducted just as the round came to a close because she fired a knee to the head of her downed opponent.
Hamasaki came out aggressively to start round two, but her takedown attempt backfired, Gadelha forcing Hamasaki to the mat and again taking control of the entire round with effective positioning and ground and pound. Gadelha nearly finished the fight with an arm-triangle, but ran out of time.
Gadelha immediately took Hamasaki to the mat again in the third round, but this time Hamasaki reversed position. Gadelha would have none of it, however, quickly taking back control and raining down punches from both top mount and back mount. She continued her attack, unleashing a final brutal series of punches that forced the referee to stop the fight.
The victory not only kept Gadelha undefeated, it also moved her into Hamasaki’s No. 1 contender spot. She’ll get the next shot at Esparza when the champ makes her return.
Sarah D’Alelio and Lauren Taylor are two of the best 135-pound female fighters not yet competing in the Octagon, and proved it on Saturday night.
D’Alelio and Taylor took the fight to each other, non-stop for all three rounds, neither fighter giving any quarter. It appeared that D’Alelio was the more aggressive fighter and giving Taylor some trouble with her reach advantage, but at the end of the night, the judges felt Taylor did enough to win a unanimous decision victory.
Neither D’Alelio nor Taylor should hang her head after that fight, which was one of the more entertaining bouts of the night.
Leslie Smith and Jennifer Maia were battling to move into title contention for the flyweight title, and it showed in their performances. Smith and Maia went toe-to-toe from the opening bell.
Making her flyweight debut, Smith engaged with her typical attacking style, attacking Maia with her usual barrage of never-ending punches. But even when the fight hit the mat, Smith attacked the submission expert with submission attempts of her own. Her aggression earned Smith the unanimous decision victory.
Former Invicta atomweight champion Jessica Penne wasted no time getting back to her winning ways after losing the belt to Michelle Waterson in her last bout. Penne stood with Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc for a time, but made the wise decision to take the fight to the mat and submitted Rivera-Calanoc with three seconds remaining in the opening round of their fight.
Invicta FC 6 post-fight awards
Leslie Smith and Jennifer Maia were awarded the Fight of the Night, Jessica Penne earned Submission of the Night honors, while Miriam Nakamoto scored the Knockout of the Night.
Invicta FC 6 results
• Cris Cyborg Justino def. Marlose Coenen by TKO (Strikes) at 4:02, R4
• Claudia Gadelha def. Ayaka Hamasaki by TKO (Strikes) at 3:58, R3
• Lauren Taylor def. Sarah D’Alelio by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
• Leslie Smith dec. Jennifer Maia by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
• Jessica Penne vs. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:57, R1
• Joanne Calderwood def. Norma Rueda Center by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
• Mizuki Inoue def. Bec Hyatt by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
• Miriam Nakamoto def. Duda Yankovich by TKO (Strikes) at 2:08, R1
• Tecia Torres def. Rose Namajunas by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
• Emily Kagan def. Ashley Cummins via Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
• Livia Von Plettenberg def. Kathina Catron by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)