Invicta is back and it’s time for Shannon Knapp and co to get their act together to start filling those vacant titles with champions Goddamn it. Because as we stand right now we technically only have one out of the five title belts that is actually around the waist of a fighter. So Invicta is putting this to rights with a title fight headlining this show for the Straw weight title that has been in limbo since Angela Hill returned to the UFC just over a year ago. Come May there will be a fight for the bantamweight title vacated recently by Yana Kunitskaya so she could go to UFC and get the shit beat out of her by Cyborg (at the moment the planned fight is between Sarah Kaufman and Katharina Lehner).
Now if you think this is all ridiculous and makes a mockery of the titles I suggest you look over at UFC, count how many interim championships we get at the drop of a hat, how many fighters there are in the women’s featherweather “division” and marvel at how the biggest name champion hasn’t had a MMA fight since 2016 and just shut the fuck up and just enjoy the awesome night of fighting.
Brazil’s @VirnaJandiroba remained undefeated and sent a message to the rest of the strawweight division at Invicta FC 26. Relive those moments in our latest All Angles ahead of her #InvictaFC28 title bout: https://t.co/4CtHyYAFPx pic.twitter.com/vuUnjOMrza
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) March 18, 2018
Strawweight Title: MIZUKI (12-4) vs. Virna Jandiroba (12-0)
It’s Brazil vs Japan, two countries that have never been at war (as far as I know, maybe they have) but if they did it would have been in ancient times an epic spectacle of two massive armies clashing together on the treets of Tokyo or Rio De Janeiro as the mighty warriors on mass clinched, armbarred and kneed the hell out of each other until one side submitted. Which is how all wars should be fought.
Taking the place of Janaisa Morandin is Mizuki Inoue who has sadly been missing from Invicta since July 2016 (she was down to be on the December Invicta show but pulled out due to an undisclosed injury). As well as been one of the most exciting, fast paced fighters in Invicta she has a stellar record in combat sports having been competing in a mixture of MMA, Kickboxing, boxing and submission wrestling since 2010 (starting when she was 16) competing in over 30 fights in various disciplines. It’s MMA that has taken the most of her attention with a 12-4 record split between her time in Invicta and the Japanese counterpart promotion JEWELS. Her Invicta loses were to top of the range opponents in Michelle Waterson and Karolina Kowalkiewicz and her wins have seen her beat Bec Rawlings, Lacey Schuckman and in her last last an armbar victory over Lynn Alavrez.
Mizuki is one of my favourite fighters to watch in Invicta and on a personal note I would love her to win the title to set up a dream match with former atomweight champion Ayaka Hamaski who has vacated that title to make a run at the straweight divison. Look i never claimed to be objective.
Virna Jacobson has serious grappling skills. She has an unbeaten pro record with 10 of her 12 pro fights being submission wins (although like all Brazillains has a few tomato cans counting as wins). She also boasts some major scalps in grappling tournaments being 2-1 in contests against Amanda Nunes and gaining double wins over Claudia Gadelha.
She made her Invicta debut last December showing good on her submission specialist reputation by gaining a first round armbar submission over Amy Montenegro.
Obviously breaks in the title lineage are never a good thing for us romantics of the sport, however this will be a good start to rebuilding the straweight title. Naturally for the two fighters walking out with the belt is a chance to catch the eye of UFC scouts for the future.
Update Brazil and Japan have never been at war, although they were on separate sides in world war II and Japaneses-Brazillain citizens in Brazil were often forced to stamp on pictures of Emperor Hirohito…the more you know.
Strawweight: Milana Dudieva (11-7) vs. Christina Marks (8-9)
This is a hastily put together fight as Milana Dudieva was originally set to face Mizuki who has now been given an upgrad to the main event. Dudieva needs a win badly. She was cut from UFC after back to back losses and didn’t fair much better on her return to Invicta having suffered loses to Mara Romero Borella and Vanessa Porto.
Facing her is another fighter trying to rebuild her career. Christina Marks who has been fighting since 2009 entered the Ultimate Fighter Strawweight season last year and lost her first round match against Emily Whitmire in under a minute. She was given a shot on the season finale and again was submitted in two minutes by Montana De La Rosa.
Before her time on the Ultimate Fighter she was on a three fight win streak and has been in the cage with the likes of Colleen Schineder and Sarah D’Alelio.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) March 2, 2018
Flyweight: DeAnna Bennett (8-3-1) vs. Karina Rodríguez (6-2)
DeAnna Bennett appears to be in a perpetual state of rebuilding her career. Once of one of Invicta’s brightest prospects, her aggressive bullying style combined with her fun personality and post fight flirty antics won her a lively fan following. However her first loss came in a quick KO at the hands of Straweight champion Livia Renata Souza and she followed this up with points losses to Roxanne Mondafferi and Jodie Esquibel. Deanna just didn’t seem herself.
Despite this losing streak she impressed at the tryouts for the Ultimate Fighter season to crown the company’s first Straweight champion and ended up with a place in the tournament.
The old DeAnna seemed to be back as she won her first round matchup with a fiery performance against Karine Gevorgyan. In the house her personality shined, especially when she dished out lapdances in the TUF house. However in the quarter finals she fell to a sickening headkick from Sijara Eubanks. She was given a fight on the season finale against Melina Fabian but failed to impress in the draw (Fabian had a point deducted for holding the cage) and she was cut from the UFC.
This is an important fight for DeAnna, a chance for her to turn her career around and make a run again in Invicta.
Karina Rodriguez on the other hand seems to be having the time of her life in Invicta. Despite only sporadic fights on her record the Brazillian stormed into Invicta with a brutal first round stoppage over Barbara Acioly last July and followed it up in December with some class boxing in a points win over Christine Ferea. The latter fight you could tell Karina was really enjoying the tough battle, with a big warrior smile on her face at times.
I’m expecting this to be quite a cagey affair, while it may not be a spectacular fight as far as careers go this could be a really heated, significant one.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) March 15, 2018
Strawweight: Kali Robbins (5-0) vs. Pearl Gonzalez (6-3)
Kali Robbins came into Invicta with a reputation for rushing in like a pitbull gaining her quick submission and ko wins. This threatened to backfire on her in her debut against Sharon Jacobson when she threw her gameplan out of the window tried to use her size advantage and ended up coming second best in a blistering exchange of punches. However the tide turned when Jacobson went for a take her down but Robbins rolled and ended up with Jacobson’s arm on the ground and pulled to get a quick verbal submission in a cracking turn around fight. This was the sort of excitement Robbins brings and she will be hoping to put that to good use against a former UFC name.
Pearl Gonzalez career looked to have a rocket strapped to it, invading the UFC in April of 2017 with a wealth of combat experience in Jiu Jit Sui competition (22-6-1), and amateur boxing, kickboxing, judo and Muay Thai. Her Pro debut before UFC was 6-1 (as an MMA amateur she was 7-1), however she came up short with losses against Cynthia Calvillo and Poliana Botello. In the Calvillo fight she gained unwanted publicity when she almost was prevented from fighting at the last minute (just after after the weign ins) when the New York commission tried to prevent her from fighting as she’d had breast implant surgery (something she had actually disclosed way before her fight).
Anyone who expected these losses to beat her don’t know the story of Pearl Gonzales. She was born into hardship, both her parents being drug addicts (her Dad was on heroin, her mom on Crack and thankfully both are clean today) and homeless and her early life was a war to survive on the toughest streets of Chicago. Just being able to avoid being a statistic makes Pearl an inspirational survivor, and she tries to use her positive outlook on overcoming adversity to be an example to her younger family members who still grow up in the hellhole that she fought through.
Speaking of fighters who have overcome incredible adversity what exactly was Paige Van Zant doing in London for UFC?
Atomweight: Minna Grusander (5-1) vs. Fernanda Priscila (3-1)
Minna Grusander comes into Invicta with quite the pedigree. She had a sterling amateur career with a 6-1 record that saw three of those wins earning her the IMMAF world championships tournament. After winning three fights over five days to get be awarded the gold medal she proudly proclaimed she was going to be an Invicta champion.
To follow that goal she became a pro in October of 2015 but her career really kicked in after Decemeber in 2016 and for the next year consistently took fights to take her to a 5-1 record. Grusander is like a whirlwind on her feet, with relentless swinging blows and proficent at clinching and tying up her opponents. She’s already seen some wars, her pro debut against Iman Darabi was a fast paced battle even by atomweight standards. One mma comedy moment came in one of her fights when she put to sleep her opponent in a choke (I think it was Elena Belaya but not 100% sure). After which the opponent in question regained her consciousness and jumped up and began celebrating thinking she’d won the fight. Bless her.
Fenranda Priscila comes in from Brazil and has not fought since 2015, where she’d gained a 2-1 record (Invicta have her as 3-1 but all sources I can find say 2-1)
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) February 26, 2018
Strawweight: Kal Schwartz (1-1) vs. Kay Hansen (1-0)
Cynics would say Kal Schwartz was brought in to make her 2016 pro debut in Invicta to give potential star Tiffany Van Soest her first win in MMA. Well if so this Marine veteran said fuck that shit and dominated the latest darling of the MMA hypetrain in it’s relentless search for the NEXT RONDA ROUSEY finishing her with a choke in two rounds. Then in March 2017 she fought again but ran into the steamroller that is Miranda Maverick and was armbarred in a dramatic three minutes.
Since then Kal has been pacing the gym waiting for a fight but promotions (she had permission from Invicta to accept fights outisde the promotion) and other fighters were not forthcoming. Now she’ll be able to put it on the line with another proficent submission fighter.
Kay Hansen is giving up a hell of a lot of life experience to her opponent being only 18, however she’s already made her Invicta debut last December when she beat Emille Prince with a vicious Armbar in under two minutes. Despite the quick win Hansen is eager to show her striking this time out (she won her only amateur fight with a TKO again in a few minutes.)
Bantamweight: Kerri Kenneson (2-0) vs. Chelsea Chandler (0-0)
As they say in England, Kerri Kenneson looks a “bit useful”. In her pro debut she beat a 3-0 fighter in Jennifer Leigh Norris by decision. She followed this up with a great looking win over Valerie Asapass, taking a submission in a frantic first round which showcased her strong skills on the ground. Kenneson’s first ever amateur fight was a humbling first round ko loss but this drove her to build on her standup. Her intense style of striking became so accomplished she became confident enough to show it off in a Muay Thai fight with Sarah Click which turned into a wild slugfest.
Chelsea Chandler is from Stockton is backed by Nick Diaz and Leslie Smith and that is all I can find out about her. No amateur record I can find and she apparently got this shot when Leslie Smith brought her to an Invicta show and introduced her to Shannon Knapp. But she’s from Stockton so maybe she’s got a bit of an mouthy personality.
Atomweight: Jillian DeCoursey (1-0) vs. Rebekah Levine (1-0)
Jillian Decoursey made a succesful step into the professional ranks at Invicta 25 with a points win over fellow debuting Ashley Medina. It was a solid performance, handling her opponent with good combinations and dominating on the ground in the last round.
Rebekh Levine also won her first pro fight with a rear naked choke back in June of 2017, after having attained a 5-0 amaetur career. If you want to see what paying your dues on the fringes of MMA looks like then do a youtube search on this lass and see the venues and crowds that she’s fought on to start her career. There are some rough venues and crowds on the lower levels of UFC. Not quite Ox Baker vs Snake Pliskon levels but not far off.
Flyweight: Tracy Cortez (1-1) vs. Kaytlin Neil (1-2)
Tracey Cortez had a rocky transition from amateur to professional, as despite bringing with her a flawless 6 fight win record she was submitted in the second round at Invicta to a more experienced opponent in Cheri Muraski. Despite losing Cortez put on an exciting first round, blooding up Muraski with some heavy shots, but her inexperience showed when trying to bully her way into takedowns and left her head exposed leading to her having to tap to a guillotine. However she bounced back just a few months later with a points win against Roxanne Ceaser.
Kaytlin Neil too has had a tough introduction to the pro ranks. She had a 4-2 amateur career and suffered loses in her first two pro fights at the end 0f 2016,. The first ironically again was against Cheri Muraski who she looked closed to stopping in the first round, but seemed to tire out and ended up losing the decision. The second loss was to a brutal looking KO loss to Ashley Deen.
After a nine months away she returned back on of all places a bellator show, being matched up with (or fed to) the much hyped Brooke Mayo. However while Mayo brought the glamour and got all the attention and had the arsehole announcers on her side (and if you’ve been watching MMA at all you should know the game by now), Neil got the points win in a close fight with patient, clinical striking.
This could be a cracking opener as both like it on the fight, although of the two Neil looks the more solid striker as she picks her shots with Cortez liking to charge in with heavy blows.
Invicta 28 comes to you this Saturday from Saltlake City in Utah and will feature it’s first ever ring card boy Elias Theodoru. And less than six weeks later we will have Invicta 29 to look forward to. By which time we will have all seen Infinity War.
See ya later