Invicta you little minx of a promotion. Sneaking up on me with a show in January while I’m still coping with the fallout from Christmas. Well it’s ok, it’s not as if I have to cram in the career of a trailblazing fighter who’s been competitng and winning titles for over ten years and has beaten many of the top names from the early days of the rise of women’s MMA.
Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad (8-2) vs. Sarah Kaufman (18-4, 1 NC)
— Sarah Kaufman (@mmasarah) January 9, 2018
Sarah Kaufman should be considered a trailblazer in MMA, competing and winning titles for over ten years and debuting when women in the sport were just starting to gain begrudging acceptance. She beat many of the top names from that era, her win column boasting victories over Miesha Tate, Shayna Bazler, Roxanne Mondafferi, liz carmouche, Alex Davis. These wins helped her to a 12-0 record up to 2010 and she was once one of the most exciting prospects in the sport and rarely were her fights anything less than entertaining. Now she is on a comeback trail, refocusing on the sport with Invicta with eyes on taking her place back in the top again.
Kaufman’s introduction to the sport came while training in her local gym as a dancer. She took up kickboxing aerobics which led to her exploring jiu-jitsui and before long had the competitive bug. Her first professional bout came in June 2006, one week before Gina Carano had her first bout and when Carano made her exit from the sport several years later Kaufman was still on cruising on her 10 match win streak.
Women’s MMA was finally making some headway at this time and Kaufman with her strong, aggessive striking style was adding to perception of women’s fights being fast paced and action packed. Because of this she was especially valuable to Strikeforce that was trying to offer something different to UFC (where Dana was still insisiting the only women getting near his cage were the ones carrying a big sign with a number on it. To show how different things were thenm her fight with Shayna Bazler was the first women’s bout to be allow to be contested over five minute rounds.
Kaufman won the promotions first Bantamweight title in 2010 over Takayo Hashi and successfully defended it by beating Roxanne Modafferi with a brutal slam. However before the end of the year she lost her title by armbar to Marloes Coenen. She rebounded with several more wins with her eyes set on regaining the title now worn by Miesha Tate. Having already beaten Tate and with her record many saw Kaufman as the natural challenger, however the promotion took the controversial at the time decision to got with the lesser experienced Ronda Rousey who’s looks, charisma and quick wins had made her into the fasting rising star in the sport.
While Rousey was winning the title, Kaufman was on the undercard having a bloody war with Alexis Davies that tore the house down and when she got the decision was cemented as the natural challenger for the new Queen. Kaufman got her chance to derail the Rousey hype train in August 2012 in what would be Rousey’s final match before starting with the UFC. When the bell rang Kaufman found Ronda was for real and immediately found herself on the defensive when Rousey went for her arm and within a minute was forced to tap to the armbar.
Even with her name value it was nearly two years later that Kaufman got her chance with the UFC, as the promotion were slow commitment to increasing the number of women fights on it’s show. In the meantime she’d made an appearance for Invicta, outpointing Leslie Smith in the fight of the night at Invicta 5.
Her first fight for UFC with Jessica Eye was a decision loss for her despite having Eye in trouble when the final bell rang, although the fight was later ruled a no contest when Eye failed a drug test for Marijuana. Kaufman rebounded with another win over Leslie Smith in a cracking rematch which saw both fighters letting their fists fly free. However she struggled to live up to her name and after suffering two loses to Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko parted ways with UFC.
On the wild west of the independent circuit, Kaufman accepted the chance to fight in South Korea and won an entertaining fight with Jessica Rose-Clarke. Both fighters put on a good show, but the experience has proven bitter sweet as to this day neither fighter has received their payment for this show.
Despite the disappointment with her UFC record, which did not do justice to her past accomplishments Kaufman insists that is where she still sees her MMA future. She sees her signing with Invicta as an oportunity to kickstart her career once again, much in the same way as Tonya Evinger and Roxanne Modafferi. This is a good signing for all concerned as Invicta for now has a well respected, name main eventer on it’s show and with her hardhitting striking she has the potential to bring some exciting fights to the promotion.
Once again Invicta’s inspired match making has created the potential for a cracking debut by matching her with another good striker.
— PannieBanzaiKianzad (@PannieKianzad) January 8, 2018
Pannie Kianzad may think she’s hit the jackpot and getting this fight as in an interview last year she put Kaufman as one of the five greatest women fighters of all time. The respect is obvioulsy there but she will be craving a win over the legend as it would turn around the blip in her professional and personal life. With a long amateur boxing background, Pannie was turning heads in MMA by starting her professinal career with an eight match win streak, a title win in cage warriors and a win on her Invicta debut over Jessica Rose Clark.
Pannie earned herself a shot at Tonya Evinger’s bantamweight title (and in the build up showed an entertaining, sexy charisma especially in a live interview with Evinger on the podcast MMA Roasted) but a bad weight cut badly affected by issues with depression saw her miss weight and the fight went ahead as non title. She lost the fight in the second round and while fighting her demons and problems with her camp was out of the cage for over a year and when she came back in January of last year she lost quickly to Raquel Pa’aluhi.
It’s clear from interviews that Pannie is still working through some tough issues, not helped by troubling financial issues. She at least has changed her camps which seems to be a source of unhappiness. The life of a fighter away from the big promotions is tough, one would hope that Pannie is able to make a good showing for herself and turn things around both inside and outside the cage.
Flyweight: Vanessa Porto (19-8) vs. Mariana Morais (12-5)
The last time I wrote about Vanessa Porto I mentioned how she been averaging about one fight a year for the last three years. Well Bollocks to me I guess, because Porto so enjoyed beating the shit out of Milana Dudieve in a third round TKO just over a month ago at Invicta 26 that she’s already jumping into the cage for another scuffle.
Despite the shadow of her missing weight Porto was impressive over the former UFC fighter, weathering some tricky spots early on and wore down her opponent with some vicious attacks to the body. It was a good victory over a name fighter and if she follows up with a win in such a short space of time may find herself with another shot at the Invicta Flyweight champion Jennifer Maia who she had such a close back and forth match with back in 2016.
Marina Morais has been involved in combat sports since she was six, working through judo, boxing and then into MMA. She had a cup of coffee with Invicta back in 2015 when she was outclassed and dominated by Roxanne Modafferi. Since then she has fought five times and got some quick wins over the Brazillian scrubs that are in steady supply for fancied fighters. She did suffer loses when taking the step up in competition, most recently in Ireland in October when she lost to the much fancied Arinae Lipski.
Strawweight: Sharon Jacobson (4-2) vs. Ashley Nichols (3-1)
When Mother Teresa coined the phrase “A fun as fuck, balls to the wall all out war,” she may well have been talking about this one.
Sharon Jacobson has already thrilled Invicta fans with some fast paced, all action performaces. In particular her 2015 clash with Jamie Moyle is one of the best fights the company has ever hosted. Her return to competition last August was bittersweet as she stormed all over Kali Robbins in the opening seconds but got caught with an armbar and had to submit before the first minute was over.
Already back to put this blip behind her she has an opponent who could provide yet another fight of the night for her.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) December 28, 2017
Ashley Nicholls may be new to MMA having only seriously begun in the sport last year with three winning matches (she had one other match back in 2013 losing to Randa Markos), but she’s coming into Invicta with a wealth of experience from the world of Muay Thai and kick boxing. Professionally in Muay Thai she has a 12-4 record (going the distance with Tiffany Van Soest in one match) and take into account all her amateur contests and you’re looking at over 75 fights she’s had in various disciplines.
Having started fighting at 15 at the urging of her mother who felt she need focus and discipline in her life, Nicholls has become a real student of all combat sports and has been praised by trainers for her attitude, noting she shows up with a “lunchbox and a notepad everyday.”
Her last MMA experience came in June when she won a four women tournament in Canada.
A wrestler vs a standup artist but both able to hold their own in each other’s discpline. This could be an absolutely action packed cracker.
— Ashley Smashley (@SmashleyMMA) January 10, 2018
Atomweight: Ashley Cummins (5-4) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-1, 1 NC)
Stephanie Alba came onto the MMA pro scene with a long line of experience on the amateur ranks with a 6-4 record and won her first three fights. She got a spot in Combate America and lost in her debut against a bitter rival from her amateur days in Paulina Granados. Her subsequent loss to Alesha Zappitella was declared a no contest after Zappitella failed a drug test.
Mixing MMA with her job as a Police officer, Ashley Cummins is a warrior in and out of the cage, having had to fight through the horror of almost losing her sight after one of her Invicta appearances. Cummins had bounced back from a three fight losing streak with two wins including an impressive victory over Amber Brown. She last fought for Invicta last July when she was outpointed by the impressive Jing Yu Frey, although losing she had several armbar attempts which almost paid off in an intense back and forth fight.
Feeling good, ready for next week. Weight on point, game on point.… https://t.co/RtRVVkDzsv
— Stephanie Alba (@StephAlbaMMA) January 6, 2018
Flyweight: Cheri Muraski (4-0) vs. Brogan Walker-Sanchez (4-0)
Someone is gonna lose their 0.
Brogan Walker-Sanchez is another fighter who began training at a young age, starting martial arts at 13. The Guam native has won all four of her pro fights in her own country, however her last two wins were against experienced competitors in Emiko Raika and Kate De Silva.
She has an exciting style, switching quickly between fast punches and hard kicks to the head and body. She also has an appealing charisma and is an easy going good talker in interviews and seems to be heading towards being a folk hero on her home island.
I described Cheri Muraski as a tenacious fighter before making her Invicta debut at their 25th show, and the 4-0 fighter did not disappoint. She beat Tracey Cortez with a choke in the second round, with a performance that is typical of her relentless, face paced style.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) January 2, 2018
Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (3-0) vs. Akeela Al-Hameed (0-0)
If you look up “Fun to watch” in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of Felicia Spencer, because I put it there. Spencer has been awesome so far in Invicta, punching, kneeing and throwing the fuck out of anything that gets into a cage the same time as her that isn’t a referee. With a brutal points win over Madison McElhaney and then a first round win by rear naked choking the life out of Amy Coleman she’s on course for being one of the biggest prospect in the featherweight division which Invicta really needs a face for right now.
The poor bugger facing her on her pro debute is Akeela Al-Hameed who enters the sport with a 4-0 amateur record. Al-Hameed is a good all rounder and has shown some lightening fast takedowns as well as seeming accomplished in the stand up with a very classic boxing style.
Both fighters have a ton of promise and they’re needed in the featherweight division, especially with so many naysayers for some reason seemingly eager for this division to be ditched by the UFC, instead of given the chance to grow.
Man am I excited to be able to fight on the same card as my sister!!! ♥️💥🤛🏻 https://t.co/KRl5OCTRWo
— MalloryBrookeMartin (@MalloryyMartin) January 7, 2018
Strawweight: Mallory Martin (1-2) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-1)
Mallory Martin had a cracking first fight in Invicta, a back and forth close battle with the impressive Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir. Getting the rough end of the decision she followed it up outside Invicta with another points loss to Maycee Barber.
Martin is fighting Tiffany Masters a fight which should have taken place at Invicta 24, however Martin had to pull out with a staph infection. Masters being fight ready used that to get a shot on the ultra classy show Dana White’s Tuesday night fights. As the stoned as fuck commentry team looked on and giggled a lot Masters lost by submission to Jamie Colleen.
A fast track to a UFC contract may have been a little too soon anyway, her appearance being only her third pro fight.
Atomweight: Mellissa Wang (1-0) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (0-0)
Mellissa Wang fights out of the AKA gym where her and her husband train alongside Luke Rockhold. She won her first pro fight last year by swarming all over Denise Bruckner, coming into the sport with a 2-3 amateur record. Three of those fights been against the same person Saray Perez which I guess counts as a feud that she won two fights to one.
Wang is a tough, relentless scrapper, as she showed in a fight against Ashley Medina where she lost but continued on despite taking heavy knees and and survived deep chokes and armbars towards the end.
For a nation that is so heavilly associated with combat sports in it’s culture, Thailand has been slow to make a mark on MMA, particularly when it comes to the women. Loma Lookboonmee will be the first Thai fighter to appear on an Invicta card and while new to MMA she has made a name for herself in Muay Thai, winning tournaments and representing the national team.
— George Hickman (@Ghick1) September 24, 2017
She was born into fighting, her father being the founder of the legendary Mee fightcamp. Despite coming from such a respected family she still lived an improvised life which motivated her to embrace fighting. Records are sketchy but it’s claimed she fought in hundreds of bouts and is said as a child she gained a reputation for fighting and beating older, male fighters.
When an American fighter visited Thailand she spoke through a translator asking advice on how she could get to fight in MMA. Unbeknown to her that fighter turned out to be current Invicta matchmaker Kaitlin Young.
Fighters coming in from other disciplines have not had an easy time making the transition to MMA, case in point Heather Hardy from boxing and Tiffany Van Soest from kickboxing. A Thai fighter coming into Invicta is almost a throwback to the roots of MMA, where fighters from other disciplines would enter the sport. Invicta has done this before by giving boxers and kickboxers a shot on their shows. And this is another reason I love this promotion, it’s just so damn fun.
Strawweight: Jade Ripley (0-0) vs. Helen Peralta (0-0)
The obligatory battle of Pro Virgins kicks off this show. Jade Ripley has a 6-0 amateur record, all her fights taking place in the Kansas City Fighting Alliance. As well as fighting she runs a gym with her husband and is a firefighter too. The Asian Sensation has a very hyperactive stick and move style, dancing round her opponents while throwing wild swinging punches. In one memorable battle she was cut in the opening seconds against Taeler Jackson, but fought on in what descended into a rock and sock em brawl with Ripley being the only one standing in an exciting second round.
Helen Peralta had a unique introduction to MMA, as despite enjoying Martials Arts as a hobby she knew little of the sport. One night some friends showed her a women’s fight, that being Ronda Rousey vs Holly Holm. Peralta was inspired, mainly because she thought both fighters were flawed and that she could beat either one of them and so could be a big success in the sport.
This extraordinarily humble lass also grabbed a bit of attention at the weigh ins for her fight against Destiny McCubbin when she went for a snog during the intense staredown. This was her final fight before turning pro and leaves behind an intensive 9-1 record achieved in less than two years. She’s a very calm, measured, but hard hitting technical fighter and is a contrast to Ripley’s high intensity style.
Invicta 27 comes to you from Kansas as always and it’s gonna be a riot (well hopefully not literally not like the time I went to watch Darts at Manchester). Incidentally UFC fightnight that weekend has four women’s fights on the show, and four of those fighters are former Invicta alumni. Veterans eager for a comeback or hungry beginners making their mark, Invicta is the place to make dreams happen
Enjoy the fights, and keep a look out for the return of Coachzone Movie club.