The Scottish Rite Temple
Kansas City, MO
Oh my word, how lovely does this new site look? So classy and far to good for the likes of me.
It’s show thirty for Invicta and a landmark for me as I’ve now offically done previews for over half of their shows (my first preview was for Invicta 14 back in 2015) I should have a steak and beer, or comb my hair in celebration or something.
For the 30th show we’re seeing Invicta getting to showcase the Atomweights, with two potentially show stealing matches on the undercard and finally we will get to see the division’s world title fight decided in the main event.
The title has been vacant after Mizuki left the division to fight at straweight and so a new champion will be crowned here.
Witness a new atomweight champion be crowned at #InvictaFC30: @littleroo1two vs @GrusanM LIVE in Kansas City, MO this July 21st! Tickets are available NOW! https://t.co/DKWFw5Xrbl pic.twitter.com/mLOJHKqLll
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) June 30, 2018
Atomweight Title: Jinh Yu Frey (6-3) vs. Minna Grusander (6-1)
Jinh Yu Frey has been an fan favourite for some time in Invicta and if you want to know why
check out her knockout of Darla Harris back in her second fight in 2013. Frey has a cold, calculating and frighteningly accurate striking style that lends itself to some exciting fights. Frey says she never intended to fight professionally for long, intending to do so only until she started graduate school. She continued fighting beyond her studies and built up an impressive name for herself including a three fight win streak and after beating her toughest opponent Hericia Tiburcio earned herself an atomweight title shot.
Frey was putting on a marvellous performance against Hamasaki in a cracking back and forth fight and at one point unleashed a vicious ground and pound that looked close to stopping th champion in the very first round. However in the second round a blistering exchange saw Hamasaki land a tough shot just above Frey’s left eye, busting her open. It was a nasty cut, but despite the positioning being clear of her eye and the flowing blood not effecting Frey’s vision the doctor stepped in and called an end to the contest in a frustrating moment for the challenger.
Frey was eager to bounce back however Invicta were slow to match her up. A fight with Janaisa Morrandin fell through when Janaisa weighed in massively over the limit and it was almost a year after the Hamasaki loss that she finally got to fight again, with an inspired match up with another top contender Ashley Cummins. It was an exciting fight with Frey taking Cummins down to the ground often but several times had to fight her way out of some tight arm bar attempts.
Following the win Frey was told by Invicta that they wouldn’t have anything for her for a while (a potential opponent got pregnant) and Frey asked for permission to take a fight with South Korean promotion Road FC who had been interested in her for a while (Frey is half Korean). Frey was matched up with the experienced national hero Ham Seo-Hee in a title fight two days before Christmas. Frey’s fight with her biggest opponent to date was cut short when she was caught with punch coming forward and was KO’d in the first round.
Frey is getting her second shot at the title and being an Invicta mainstay and in providing so many cracking fights for the company it would be apt for her to be the one to carry the atomweight title into the future. To do so she will have to defeat another worthy contender.
Minna Grusander built up her rep on the amateur circuit, her greatest achievement taking gold in the IMMAF three day tournament in 2015. After this win she proclaimed that she was going to be an Invicta champ and exploded onto the pro scene, taking five fights in a twelve month period to earn herself a shot with the promotion of her dreams.
She was matched up with Fernanda Priscilla and traditionally being a slow starter looked shaky in the first round, getting tagged by mauling punches and having to work out of a guillotine attempt.
Grusander came out a more positive fighter in the second, picking off Priscilla with down the middle punches and getting her to the ground overwhelmed her with vicious knees, punches and elbows until the referee was finally forced to step in.
Grusnander spun around with joy and probably wasn’t aware she’d earned herself a shot at the world title.
It’s been almost two years since we’ve had a atomweight title match in Invicta and it’s been a long wait. The Atomweights division provides some of the most exciting, fast paced action you will see in Invicta, with wild exchanges and innovative wrestling. It’s something that sets Invicta apart from the other organisations and gives a platform for those fighters to show what they can do who aren’t big enough to compete fairly against fighters in the straweight division.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 4, 2018
Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (4-0) vs. Helena Kolesnyk (5-1)
When UFC announced a featherweight tournament in the latest Ultimate Fighter (gotta give em credit for sticking with that show) Felicia Spencer was a name many assumed she would be cert for the show. However Spencer was in no rush to get into the house, preferring instead to build on her 4-0 record (all her fights happening in Invicta) and figuring that UFC is still going to need fresh featherweights down the road.
If you love hard hitting offence, Spencer is your fighter. She slams, punches, kicks and knees the fuck out of opponents with a high impact style. She’s had her way with her Invicta foes with two first round stoppages and two dominant points victories.Her toughest fight was her last one against the pro debuting Akeela Al-Hammeed. It was a tough challenge for Spencer and at one point she was caught in a standing guillotine. In an innovative response she was able to use her freaky flexibility to throw knees to her opponents head while in this awkward position, it was an impressive crowd pleasing moment. If Invicta ever decides to crown a new featherweight division, Spencer could be a face for the division, though if she keeps winning don’t expect her to be around for long.
Helena Kolesnyk attracted a degree of celebrity in the Ukraine where she women fighters are a new concept, her fame coming mainly with victories over inexperienced part timers. Netherless Invicta saw fit to bring her in and match her up with an immedite titiel shop for Megan Anderson’s world title. However Anderson left for UFC and Kolesnyk was slotted down the card in a match with Pam Sorenson. Kolesnyk was somewhat exposed when in there with an actual decent fighter and was submitted easily in a couple of minutes. Kolesnyk gets another shot here and pulling off a big upset against Spencer would redeem her in many eyes.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 14, 2018
Straweight: Kinberly Novaes (9-4) vs. Heather Jo Clark (7-6)
Kimberley Tanaka Novaes who is famous for unknowingly fighting while ten week pregnant, made her Invicta debut last December. Noaves was a late stand in for Mizuki and fought fellow Brazillian and much hyped Janaisa Morandin. It was a cracking and bloody brawl (the blood mainly from Noaves, and while Novaes was outclassed on the feet she showed lots of heart and despite taking some heavy damage and fighting through a broken nose never stopped firing back. Noaves was easily outpointed, giving her the second straight loss (the first coming in Pancrase in May 2017) on a 9-4 record.
Now she has the chance to get back on winning ways with a scalp over a well known fighter.
Heather Jo Clarkhad had a notable career, mainly due to a period when she just seemed to piss off her fellow fighters. She started MMA in 2010 at the age of 28 having being a hockey player and taken an interest in acting and photography. She was encouraged to try fighting while getting into shape at a gym and fought on small shows while Women’s mma was struggling on the fringes of the sport. She attained a decent record, trying a few bouts of Pro Boxing along the way before getting her first big shot on a Bellator show in 2013. She was matched up with Felice Herring which became a bitter feud and war of words as Clarke seemed to disapprove of Herring promoting herself with overtly sexy antics and proclaiming that she had no class.
It was the sort of grudge that promoters dream of and after a tense weigh in face off the fight lived up to the hype. The personal nature of the fight made this a heated affair but Clarke failed to expose Herring as she was on the wrong end of a points decision and spent the last minute of the fight fighting simply not to be choked out. When the bell rang the bad blood did not end as the two threw a few parting shots at each other. The feud would continue in front of a television audience when both fighters qualified for the 20th season of Ultimate Fighter to crown the UFC’s first Straw weight title.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 1, 2018
It was a bad tempered season all round and Clarke was in the centre of a lot of the drama getting into arguments with hot heads such as Angela Magana and Bec Rawlings and naturally clashing with her rival Herring. And surprise, surprise the seeding ensured that the two enemies would face each other in the first round and in the build up Clarke took shots at Herring for daring to show off her bod. Once again it was Herring who got the win, but this time Clarke after the fight made peace with Herring and apologised for judging the way she promoted herself.
Clarke was given a UFC shot on the live finale and building on the very real dislike that had developed between her and Bec Rawlings was booked into another grudge match. Clarke put aside her bad experiences on the show and an acl tear to score at the time an upset decision victory while dominating the poster child for the division.
However it would be over a year before she fought again while recovering from surgery and after back to back losses against Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso parted ways with UFC. Now two years later she returns to the spotlight with Invicta at the age of 38.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) June 27, 2018
Bantamweight: Alexa Conners (5-2) vs. Kerri Kenneson (3-0)
Sometimes it’s best left to a fighters own words to describe what drives them to fight.
“My father — this September , it’s been two years — he battled a mental-health illness his whole life and never got help for it,” Conners told Combat Press. “He never got counseling, and eventually it got the best of him. He killed his own girlfriend and then took his own life. That, obviously, was a life-changing event for my whole family. So, one of my things is ‘fight the stigma.’ I want to help spread mental-health awareness and try to help people or at least get our government to start talking about it [and] actually put money out there for people to get help, because it’s ridiculous. Our mental-health system sucks.” Alexa Connors.
Last time we saw Connors in Invicta was at the 25th show back in August where she was overwhelmed by the constant heavy hands of TUF 29 entrant Katriana Lehner. Connors bounced back by taking a fight at Beatdown 21 in March against veteran Carina Damm (which was filmed with some disrespectful commentary as the announcer practically ignore what was going on in the cage and instead interviewed his co-host Felice Herring). Connors looked a lot sharper in this fight, with sharp stick and move boxing and finally putting away Damm with a crushing kick to the mid section.
Connors has recently been based in Las Vegas and has been a part of Jessica Rose-Clarke’s fight team.
Kerri Kenneson I described as looking a “bit useful” before her Invicta 28 debut against Chelsea Chandler. For once I didn’t put the kiss of death on her career as she went to 3-0 with a points win over an aggressive opponent. Kenneson had to defend against submission attempts to her arm and ankle and then came a weird end to the first round. Chandler appeared to mistake the 10 second clap warning as the end of the round and let go of a submission attempt. When she realised the round was still on she squared up again and Kenneson put her on her ass with a peach of a punch.
While defending the submissions in the first two rounds she was able to deliver ground and pounding knees and punches and really took command in the third round, beating a much hyped debuting fighter (Chandler had the support of the Diaz’s and Leslie Smith).
"You can never underestimate your opponent. I would like to go for the finish but things never go according to plan once you step in the cage. All I know is that it's going to be a great fight." – Brogan Walker-Sanchez #InvictaFC30 pic.twitter.com/0yMLVOKkvV
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 3, 2018
Flyweight: Miranda Maverick (3-0) vs. Brogan Walker-Sanchez (5-0)
Someone’s gonna lose the 0 in this fight as we have two promising undefeated talents climbing the Invicta ranks, and this could be a scorcher.
Miranda Maverick has become an Invicta favourite due to her freaky strength that has seen her throwing the living daylights out of her opponents. She knocked the hell out of Samatha Diaz and Kalyn Shawrtz on her way to making them tap in the first round. Her last fight went longer with Gabby Romero lasting the distance and giving her the toughest fight so far, matching her in grappling and seemed close to submitting Maverock via armbar in the first round.. Miranda though came back strong and showed some hammerfist striking and had to dig deep in a gruelling struggle to win on points. That was back in July 2017, as Maverick has been continuing her studies in Psychology and at 21 has plenty of time to devote time to both.
Brogan Walker-sanchez won her first four fight in her home county of Guam and for her fifth made her Invicta and USA debut against Cheri Muraski at Invicta 27 in January. Quite a few fighters who are local heroes in their own countries have faltered when making the step up to fighting in America, but despite a really tough fight that saw Walker-Sanche coming back from a rough first round was the one with her hand raised when the split decision was announced.
Walker-Sanchez fought mostly in the clinch and the inside in this fight which may prove a real test for her if she tries to to this to negate the strength of Maverick.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 11, 2018
Atomweight: Jillian DeCoursey (2-0)vs. Alesha Zappitella (3-0, 1 NC)
Alesha Zappitella did her time on the amateur ranks and started her pro career with a 2-2-1 record behind her. A life long fan of combat sports, (as a child she was forced to choose between wrestling and karate as her mother wouldn’t let her do both) she seemed destined for a life in MMA and had an explosive first fight against Elaine Santiago where she showed tremendous fire with relentless ground and pound on her way to a points victory . Naturally her style relied heavily on her wrestling background having had tryouts for the Olympics 2016 team, but she can absolutely mix it up on her feet too.
She won her first two pro fights and seemed to have won a third against Stephanie Alba however the fight was ruled a no contest when Alba failed a test for Marijuana. Personally I think it’s quite impressive that someone can actually will themselves to win fights with dope in their system, as opposed to staying home in their dressing gown all day playing computer games and playing the Sitar.
Zappitella took her suspension on the chin and bounced back to beat Kyna Sission, avenging a loss to her back in her amateur days.
Jillian Decoursey steps in as a last minute replacement for Shino Vanhoose, to make this her third Invicta fight in the last twelve months. Decoursey won her pro debut last August against Ashley Medina and in March defeated Rebakah Levine, both fights went the distance. The fight against Levine was an absolute mugging, with Decoursey on top and raining down heavy shots on her. Unlike a lot of fighters who started their pro careers in Invicta and have failed to make good on their amateur promises, Decourcey has been impressive and solid and even with the late addition will not be a push over.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 8, 2018
Atomweight: Alyse Anderson (3-1) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-2, 1 NC)
When I wrote about Alyse Anderson for my Invicta 25 preview last year I said “Of all the newcomers Anderson is the one I’m most looking forward to seeing on the bigger stage.” Naturally this put the kiss of death on her as she came up short in her fight with Shino Vanhoose, losing a close split decision.
Anderson was in the most dominant position with more takedown (and incidentally hit, by accident I’m sure, the closet thing I’ve ever seen to a Curt Henning style perfect plex in MMA) and being on top, but Vanhoose scored with more damaging shots.
Losing for the first time was tough for Anderson but she put the loss behind her, and has become training partners with Felice Herring which seems to have done a lot for her confidence, drawing off the veterans experience.
Stephanine Alba came into Invicta hoping to get back to winning ways after failing to get a victory for Combate Americas, (her loss to Alesha Zappitella was ruled a no contest after Zappitella failed a drugs test). She came up short at probably the toughest fighter she’s faced to date in Ashley Cummins. Alba served hard times at the hands of the police officer in a mostly one sided fight, but showed heart in trying for submissions while spending so much of the fight on her back.
Naturally this is an important fight for both as neither wants two striaght losses on their Invicta stint.
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) July 1, 2018
Flyweight: Erin Blanchfield (1-0) vs. Brittney Cloudy (0-0)
Erin Blanchfield comes into Invicta with a fair amount of hype and potential. She’s an accomplished grappler and in July 2017 won the flyweight portion of the Eddie Bravo invitational, winning four contests and finishing the semi and final via armbar. In her interview after she made it clear MMA was her destiny and last Novemember she made her pro MMA debut with a focused performance, taking down her opponent Destiny Quiones and working herself into an armbar in just over a minute.
As well as a grappler, the 19 year old has a 7-1 record in kickboxing and muay thai. Being a student of the matts since she was seven, Blanchfield’s debut may be one of those “I was there when…” moments.
Making this a complete contrast of styles is Brittney Cloudy making her pro debut, but she has been fighting on the amateur circuit for the last few years attaining a 7-2 record. A Golden Gloves champion she has a very boxing style, however her last two victories came via rear naked choke, her last fight she looked impressive against then unbeaten Savanna Tarver, get into a clinch during an exchange and getting her back and patiently working her way into the choke.
Invicta 30 takes place on Saturday 21st at it’s spiritual home the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas and you really should watch.
Enjoy the fights,