I’d like to dedicate this totally uninformed preview of Invicta 29 to Leslie Smith.
Not that she’s dead or anything, I just think she’s goddman awesome for going up against the bald Satan to get stronger rights for fighters from the penny pinching UFC. We all know that’s the reason why they were so keen to finish up her contract when her fight with Aspen Ladd fell through (and after winning her last two fights to boot). Kick their arses Leslie we love ya.
— Leslie Smith (@LeslieSmith_GF) April 27, 2018
There are many reasons I’m glad I don’t live in Saudi Arabia. Being able to watch an awesome MMA promotion like Invicta is one of them.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) April 27, 2018
Bantamweight Title: Sarah Kaufman (19-4, 1 NC) vs. Katharina Lehner (7-0)
Finally we will have an Invicta champion again which has been vacant since Tonya Evinger went to the UFC last June. And if things go as they should we will be swapping one MMA women’s Icon for another.
To check out my take on the career of Sarah Kaufman go to my Invicta 26 preview where I ran down career which stretched back to the time when things were just beginning to open up for fighting women. Upon leaving the UFC after two straight losses , Kaufman immediately got on the comeback trail, showing she has not lost her passion for the sport. She first beat Jessica Rose Clarke in Korea, being subjected to the joys of fighting away from the majors as she got stiffed on her payout. She then made her way to Invicta where she was received as MMA royalty she is and put in the main event agianst Pannie Kianzad. Kaufman looked sharp and as good as ever on her way to a points win and followed it up with a post fight interview when she asked Shannon Knapp in as polite a way as you’ll ever see in a MMA cage for a shot at the title. But what do you expect she’s Canadian.
Katharina Lehner came to Invicta at the end of last year, having gone as far as she could against the best competition that her home country of Germany had to offer. At Invicta 25 she fought the much fancied Alexa Connors and made an impression in stopping her via TKO in the first round (although she would have made a better impression by making weight). She followed this up quickly with a return to Germany where she has a celebrity following and headline a card against a 1-0 fighter. Naturally she won.
Her quick fighting turn around was set to continue with an Invicta fight against Sarah Kaufman in January, however she had to pull out due to injury. Now the fight goes ahead but this time for the Invicta Bantamweight title. This is a great story matchup of a veteran on a comeback trail who still has a lot to give to the sport and a young hungry up and comer.
Though I don’t normally make predictions I’m expecting Kaufman to win this one quite handily. She has of course far more experience against world class fighters, something Lehner who has yet to come anywhere near . Kaufaman is still only in her early 30’s and being the better fighter and athlete should see her to a decisive victory. Although being Canadian that’s providing that’s ok with everyone.
Kaufman as champion is just what Invicta needs right now. A name fighter whose style lends itself to great fights and can carry be a figurehead in the same way Tonya Evinger did.
"Nobody is challenging themselves besides me and Sarah Kaufman. I've fought really good opponents. I just need to get back to my winning streak so people will remember." – @PannieKianzad #InvictaFC29 pic.twitter.com/6fkJc3RhPi
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) April 17, 2018
Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad (8-3) vs. Bianca Daimoni (7-2)
Pannie Kianzad started the sport with lost of promise and having the charisma to come across well in interviews reportedly had UFC checking her out for a call up. Sadly she failed to follow up on her impressive win over Jessica Rose Clarke back in Invicta 13 in 2015. She became disillusioned with the sport after losing to Tonya Evinger in two rounds and followed it up with a first round loss to Raquel Pa’aluhi in 2017. Struggling to get a fight she accepted a fight at late notice with MMA legend Sarah Kaufman. Though losing she acquitted herself well and took the former Strikeforce champion the distance.
In interviews recently Pannie has sounded more positive and hopeful as she welcomes another Brazilian to the Invicta cage.
Bianca Daimoni comes to the US to make her Invicta debut boasting a 7-2 record and naturally coming from Brazil has a fair few tomato cans as scalps. Her last fight was in August that was a massively one sided points win over Llare Jones. She’s a solid looking fighter, very technical and patient.
Flyweight: Pearl Gonzalez (7-3) vs. Bárbara Acioly (4-2)
Pearl Gonzalez took the right step in her career direction at the last Invicta event. Gonzalez failed to make an impression in her UFC stint with two losses that saw her cut from the promotion. However quitting was not on the cards as she drew on the grit that got her through a childhood on the streets with two drug addicted parents and the positivity that got her through a ton of amater Jiu Jitsui, boxing, MMA and judo contests.
Gonzalez came to Invicta just over a month ago and without Reebok dressing her like every other fighter looked a star with a bit of bling in a bright pink attire and a gold ribbon tutu skirt. Where it counts she outpointed her opponent Kali Robbins, winning both the standup and looking impressive with her grappling in a good scrap.
Bárbara Acioly came into Invicta back in July with an explosive heavy hitting style but a record earned out of what pro wrestling would name as jobbers, fighters who were either one and done or had more losses than wins on their record. This is something she has in common with most Brazilians I’ve noticed coming to the US to fight.
Put up against an actual skilled fighter in Karina Rodriguez at Invicta 24 she was decked in the first minute and took a beating on the ground until the referee finally waved the fight off. In February she travelled over to Japan to fight on a Pancrase card and lost by rear naked choke to the experienced Takayo Hashi.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) April 30, 2018
Bantamweight: Julia Avila (4-0) vs. Marciea Allen (6-2)
Do Panda’s rage? Julia Avila has named herself after one and has one tattooed on her leg. She began fighting in 2012 on the amateur level and in her pro debut beat Marion Reneau who went on to have an impressive career and is currently in the UFC. Julia took a break in active competition until 2016 as she mixed her fighting with studying in engineering and was also looking for the right gym to settle into.
She’s undefeated as amateur and pro and last fought over a year ago against current UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano. This was a tough fight (fought in a really dimly lit cage I gotta say) as she suffered an eye injury in the second round of a five round fight, but held in and ground out a gutsy decision victory.
Her last fight was late last year where she beat Candace Maricle by winning a wild exchange in the first round leading to her getting an armbar from the ground, with the tap coming just over a minute into the fight.
Marciea Allen makes her Invicta, having fought way back at Invicta 3 some five years ago. Having been an amateur since 2009 gaining a 5-3 record before turning pro in 2012 fighting her way to a 6-2 record her two pro losses were to Jessymyn Duke and Aslee Evans Smith.
Her introduction to fighting came when she found herself laid off work at 28 years old and was in the front row to watch a friend fight and was intrigued about taking this up as a new career path.
Flyweight: Liz Tracy (4-2) vs. Cheri Muraski (4-1)
Liz Tracy came to Invicta last year with an exciting explosive style that showed her in some entertaining fights with a win over Christine Stanley and a late notice loss to Ashley Yoder. Being put in there against the more experienced favourite Andre Lee at Invicta 23 came across like she was being fed to the bigger star as a showcase for Lee’s skills. However despite being dominated in the first round, Tracy came back into the fight and surprised a lot of people by making it a close fight and taking it to the final bell losing by a spilt decision.
She got back to winning ways in February with a win on a KOTC card beating Suzy Watson by decision.
Cheri Muraski transitioned into MMA from Jiu-Jitsu having attained the level of brown belt. With that background she finishes most of her fights with submission, as she did in explosive fashion on her Invicta debut against Tracy Cortez in the first round.
Her second fight was against Brogan Walker-sanchez which she lost via decision in a close and rough fight.
Yaya Rincón Sarah Kleczka (2-0) vs Lisa Spangle . (0-0)
Lisa Spangler makes her pro debut bringing with her four years of experience from the amateur ranks where she won nine fights and suffered one loss by decision to Kal Schwartz who herself has been impressive so far in Invicta. Lisa has won four of her amateur fights by ko in the first round.
Lisa currently has to juggle her training with having a morning 4-9am shift at a petstore (Petsmart, which I guess is a chain in America) This kinda makes her a “sister in retail,” for me, so I can’t help but root for her, especially as she’s also a tabletop Dungeons and Dragons fan.
I had a lovely little piece written about Yaya Rincon and then for some reason she’s been replaced at the last minute by Sarah Kleczka. Kleczka according to Invicta had a fight only last weekend against Natalie King which she won by armbar. If so this would be her second pro win, her first came at Invicta 25 when she won via split decision over Amberlynn Orr in a very grinding affair, the difference being Kleczka landing some knees in the clinch.
Featherweight: Allison Schmidt (1-0) vs. Macy Chiasson (1-0)
Alison Schmidt is a fighter not a talker, as evident by the one interview I could find which was a painfully awkward affair as her interviewer tried his hardest to get a single more than generic answer from her in order to hype her pro debut back in 2016. Fortunately she did her work in the cage, weathering some heavy shot early from a game opponent in Erica Godinez but totally dominating when she got her to the ground and pounded away until eventually getting a win by rear naked choke. That is so far her only pro fight. Her only other fight was a single amateur win by points Keelin Gallup.
Macy Chiasson spent longer on the amateur circuit with a 6-2 record before going pro, her most notable name fight was a loss to current Invicta prospect Felicia Spencer. Her first amateur fight was an absolute mugging of Candace Maricile in 50 seconds. She went on to gain six wins as an amateur all in the distance and in a fast, violent fashion. She carried this over into her pro debut, battering Miranda Dearing to a stoppage last November.
Macy’s aggressive style is understandable as she got her start in combat sports by studying Krav Maga which is a practical self defence discipline used by Isareli military forces, designed to take down attackers in the most brutal ways possible.
This one could be a cracking, hard hitting encounter with both having strong offences on feet and ground and with MMA sorely in need of some depth in it’s women’s featherweight division this is a great opportunity for them to make a mark. Especially as rumour has it the winner will be matched up with the so far formidable Felicia Spencer. An added incentive is the rumours that the next TUF series will feature women featherweights which will not go down well with that haters for that particular weight division.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) April 21, 2018
Strawweight: Helen Peralta (1-0) vs. Cheyanne Vlismas (1-0)
Helen Peralta a martial artist who’s introduction to MMA was watching Holly Holm vs Ronda Rousey and thought “I can beat these two,” made her Invicta debut in January. Proving the old saying “it ain’t cocky if you can back it up” Peralta made short work of her opponent the wild swinging Jade Ripley with some measured, composed striking and absolutely unleashing with some bombs to finish the fight half way in the second round. So infused was she that Peralta wanted on the next card but had to wait just a little longer for her next fight.
Apparently as part of her training she spent four weeks living in a small room near a gym in a dodgy area and could literary do nothing with her time but train, as the two times she went outside she was shot at and almost robbed.
Managed by Miesha Tate, Cheyanne Vlismas has has a spotted amateur MMA career. Starting in 2013 she had her fair share of loses including a four match losing streak but turned things around with four straight wins. She then fought Crystal Demopoulos and was looking good, knocking down and staggering her opponent and in the third round was delivering some ground and pound and seemed close to finishing. Then bad luck got in the way when Vlisma blocked a takedown attempt and ended up on top but in doing so took the impact on her arm. As she went to land some blows her arm hung, sickeningly limp and as she tried to shake it off it was clear damage had been done. It turned out to be a dislocated elbow (check out the footage it’s really nasty) and although she wanted to fight on the fight was stopped sue to injury.
Nine months later she was back and made her pro debut (just last month) on an LFA card against Karla Hernandez. It was a cracking fight, with Vlismas battering her opponent with throws and strikes but had to endure defending against a deep armbar. She finally managed to wear down and finish Hernandez with some vicious elbows.
Vlisma is an entertaining fighter with her strength and comfort zone been on the feet however she has won several fights via submission.
Invicta 29 takes place in it’s spiritual home of Kansas this Friday. You can also see women wrestle on WWE shows in Kansas, which makes it a way more awesome place than Saudia Arabia.