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Bad Officiating Sours Otherwise Excellent Invicta FC 21

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Montenegro vs Haga Invicta FC 21

The worst thing about Invicta Fighting Championships is that most of their events take place in Missouri. The cave state, where the Missouri Office of Athletics empower incompetent officials to make bad decisions inside the cage.

On Saturday night, Invicta Fighting Championships promoted one of the best events in their near five year history. Sadly, they were forced to do so in spite of the appointed referees. Much can be questioned about the performances of Mike England and Greg Franklin in the Scottish Rite Temple at Invicta FC 21.

From the moment Mike England stepped into the cage for the opening bout between Rachael Ostovich and Christine Ferea, knowing fans watching on UFC Fight Pass had a sense of unease. It was England who had ruined the main event, and come close to ruining another bout, at Invicta FC 20 back in November.

The much maligned referee did not take long to have a negative impact on Saturday night’s card either. In the third round of the opening bout, Ostovich ate a perfect left high kick. Ferea followed up with a right hand. The combined force of those blows had Ostovich bent in half, slumped, face pointed at the canvas, before turning away from her attacker.

Instinctively Ostovich stumbled sidewards into one of her trademark takedowns. Perhaps the additional right hand that Ferea landed seconds before it stunned her into reaction. It is a shame that it had not had the same effect on England.

“I think she’s out of this” said colour commentator Julie Kedzie, before continuing.

“She’s holding onto her leg TJ but I don’t think she’s conscious.”

Ferea continued to unload with punches to Ostovich’s head, and knees to her mid section. The Hawaiian could do nothing but cling onto Ferea’s ankle before collapsing onto her back. As she did so, Ferea landed five more clean punches before England decided he had seen enough.

England’s reactions were hardly cat-like when Jenny Liou collapsed in a heap following an Andrea “KGB” Lee body shot either. As Liou adopted the foetal position, doing nothing but covering her head, England waited.

Lee instantly landed a hard, solitary right hand to the head of her defenceless opponent. Liou clearly wanted the beating to end, but not Mike England.

He wanted more.

Lee went full force, four rapid, hard punches fired at Liou’s head before England was able to stop the bout.

Sadly, there was more to come from the experienced Mid West official. England was on hand during the Elizabeth Phillips vs. Leah Letson bout too. Letson landed a perfect left high kick that had Phillips’ stiff body tumbling backwards.

Six additional hammerfists all landed as Phillips lay on her back looking up. In truth, the fight was over the moment the kick landed. England just had to play catchup to get there.

England’s comments in a previous interview with Knuckle Junkies are telling,

“I tell them in the dressing room, amateurs, I’m going to protect you. Pros, you’re going to get beat up because that is what you’re paid to do. I’m going to let you go farther.”

And let them go farther he did. Beating up absolutely happened. The referee’s job is to protect everyone.

Despite England’s penchant for stopping fights late, the most egregious officiating act of the night belonged to Greg Franklin during the Amy Montenegro vs. Celine Haga bout.

With thirty second left in the fight, needing a finish to win the bout, Haga threw a hail mary. She latched onto Montenegro’s neck, tightening a choke and dragging her opponent to the mat. As the clock ticked down, Franklin moved into position.

With at least two seconds left, Montenegro noticeably slouched. She was out. Franklin did nothing until the final bell rang, then ensuring that the hold was released.

In that position Franklin had one responsibility. When Montenegro went limp before the bell he shirked it. The fight went to the judges, and Montenegro was declared the winner.

For Haga there is a chance to appeal the decision. As Erik Makragen, a litigation lawyer and combat sports law consultant, reported on Combat Sports Law, chapter 7 of Missouri’s MMA rules is clear about their appeal process.

“Any party may contest the outcome of any bout within ten (10) days of the decision by writing all the facts and the basis for the complaint. The complaint must be forwarded to the office. If there appears to be a violation of these rules, the director or his/her designate shall investigate, and, if the claims seem to be substantial, hold a hearing and issue its findings and decision.”

Winning and losing matters. It determines how much a fighter gets paid. Typically most Invicta fighters appear on an even split appearance fee, and win bonus. For a fighter like Haga winning a fight can mean the difference between being paid $1,500, to being paid $3,000.

Results often determine who they fight next, and where, too. Wins open up greater opportunities while losses can crush dreams and aspirations in an instant. Correctly determining the result of a fight is a huge responsibility bestowed upon referees and judges.

Whether Haga can get the decision overturned remains to be seen, but the Missouri Office of Athletics have overturned decisions based on refereeing incompetence in the past. Recently too, which brings us back to Mike England.

At Invicta FC 20, Tonya Evinger attempted to defend an armbar by stepping on Yana Kunitskaya’s face. There is no rule which prohibits a fighter from doing that. England, who refereed the bantamweight title main event, appeared unaware of this.

The referee began berating Evinger, insisting that she reposition. In following his orders, Evinger went from being on the verge of escaping an armbar, to being forced to tap under the mounting pressure.

Evinger appealed the decision, and the bout result was changed to a no contest.

Invicta FC 20 had been another wretched night for Missouri officiating, with England pausing the action as Alexa Conners had Stephanie Egger badly rocked and was unloading with strikes in search of a finish.

The reason? Egger had lost her mouthpiece. The unified rules state the following,

“If the mouthpiece is involuntarily dislodged during competition, the referee shall call time, clean the mouthpiece, and reinsert the mouthpiece at the first opportune moment without interfering with the immediate action.”

There could not have been a more inopportune moment to do so. No point in the entire fight where pausing would have interfered with the immediate action, and the outcome, more.

As Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting reported in December, Missouri are one of a number of states who have their own way of doing things.

Proposed changes to the unified rules for 2017 have not been adopted by the Missouri Office of Athletics. Nobody from their office attended the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports conference in 2016, where rule changes were discussed and voted upon.

Now it seems they have their own way of refereeing too. While their overturning of the unjust result of the Evinger vs Kunitskaya bout can be seen as a positive step, it should not be forgotten that had the referee entrusted with controlling the action that night not made a mistake in the first place, there would have been no unjust result to overturn.

Future Invicta events are likely to remain in Missouri. Kansas City has been their main home since their creation almost five years ago.

The plus side is that with Invicta’s recent events broadcast across the world via UFC Fight Pass, the MMA world is watching. Judging by the response across social media, the online MMA community doesn’t like what it is seeing either.

For the good of the fans; the promoters; and much more importantly the fighters, we can only hope that forces an improvement in the level of officiating for future events.

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Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut 

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Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.

Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.

The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar.  While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.

Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.

Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Andrea Lee on USADA Drug Test Failure “You can get Suspended for Anything”

Harry Davies

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Andrea Lee vs Heather Bassett

MMA Latest spoke to recently signed UFC flyweight Andrea “KGB” Lee about her delayed UFC debut, and potential opponents on this season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Lee (8-2) signed with the UFC in September, and was set to make her promotional debut just a few weeks after at UFC 216. However, “KGB” was quickly pulled from her scheduled fight with Kalindra Faria, due to fighters with previous USADA violations having to serve a six-month period in the testing pool before fighting.

Q: I’m interested to get your thoughts on how things are going on The Ultimate Fighter: Season 26, have you been watching closely?

I have! I’m still glad I didn’t sign up for TUF, I’m happy I stayed home so I could watch from afar and continue to get my own training in. I’ve been keeping up with it, trying to study my future opponents I’ve already got my eye on some I would like to compete against.

Q: You decided to fight Liz Tracey instead of committing to the tryouts for TUF 26, but you said you don’t regret that, why?

I had already injured my back, so going into the house at that time with an injury wouldn’t have been smart. Secondly, I felt like I was already established enough as a fighter, most fighters on the show need help to be seen, but I already feel like I have a good following. I was comfortable fighting with Invicta and LFA until I got the call-up for the UFC.

Q: Can you please clear up why you failed a USADA test back in 2016, I believe it was revealed you took a diuretic, but you were unaware it was on the banned list?

Firstly, I’ve never taken steroids, I didn’t fail the test because of steroids and I was not aware that fluid pills (diuretics) were used as a masking agent.

People need to be aware that you can get suspended for anything.

I used the fluid pills because I swell and bloat a lot, it’s very uncomfortable. I didn’t realise people use them for masking steroids. If in competition you can get suspended for like ibuprofen and sleep aids, they’re always changing the banned substance list.

Q: You tested positive for the diuretic after you loss to Sarah D’Alelio, was the weight cut for this fight rough and did it hinder your performance on the night?

I took it for the weight cut for that fight yes, but I don’t think it hindered my performance. I was paranoid and thinking that I needed it in that moment, because I was bloating and retaining water. I didn’t think twice about it and took it thinking it would help my period and the fact that I was bloated.

Q: When will your six month suspension be over, and are you eyeing any specific dates/opponents for your UFC debut?

I’ll be done at the end of March next year, I joined the USADA testing pool right as I signed my UFC contract in September. I think April is when I may fight, we don’t have an opponent in mind yet, we’re waiting to see how TUF 26 plays out.

Who would you like to see Andrea Lee face in her UFC debut? Let us know below!

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Pannie Kianzad on Becoming a Full-Time Fighter

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Invicta FC bantamweight Pannie Kianzad recently shared some exciting personal news – that she is now able to devote herself full-time to her fighting career. Speaking to MMA Latest, Kianzad explained how her new full-time status came about.

Me and my boyfriend have been talking about this for a long time,” the Swede began. “I’ve always wanted to do this since I got into MMA and to have the time to put everything into it. Since I’ve signed with Invicta, it’s even more important because I’m fighting against the best in the world. Ilaz moved down from Stockholm and moved in with me, he said ‘when I get a full-time job and everything is good, then you can quit your job’. So now he is working for a really good company and I only work one, maybe two days, just to pay for my train card to get to the gym.”

There are, of course, a plethora of benefits for a fighter who is able to enjoy full-time status, but, for Kianzad, the biggest difference is not the extra time to train, rather the after-training aspects. “I still train the same amount,” she explained. “I still do one or two classes a day, like I did when I was working full-time, but now I get my recovery time, which is just fucking amazing. I get to sleep! But not only that, I get to work on my own things and what I want to do for the future too.”

One such project that the 25-year old will get to work on is brand of fight and training apparel. “I have my brand – Kianzad gear,” she began. “Everything is fine, I just don’t have the money yet to go full in on it. The design work and what I want to create is done and the samples are all really good. That’s one thing I’m working on – saving up and looking for sponsors for that.”

Logo for Kianzad Wear

Anyone who follows “Banzai” on social media will know that she recently returned from America, where she took the chance to train at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, as well as spend time with one of the biggest names in women’s MMA. “The main reason I went to Vegas was for the TUF tryouts,” Kianzad revealed. “I didn’t tell anyone about that. I was trying out for the 135 category, which got cancelled three weeks beforehand – So that sucked! We were thinking whether or not to go, but then I was like ‘this is our only vacation time’ so we took the opportunity to go anyway.”

I talked to my friend Ray Elbe and was going to train with Cris (Cyborg), but she had to fly out to Brazil for a commercial or something, but she missed her flight. So we drove down to Huntington Beach and had lunch with them. It was nice talking to a female fighter who is at the top. She motivates me a lot and has always been one of my favourite fighters, but she is a really good person too.”

Something that always seems to shine through with Invicta FC fighters like Kianzad is the great relationship and affinity they have towards the organisation, as well as the owner, Shannon Knapp. This is refreshing to see given the current climate of public disputes between fighters and promoters. “Shannon believes in us,” Kianzad explaned. “It doesn’t matter what we look like, if we win or if we lose, she respects us as professional athletes. That is the biggest reason. And fighters in all organisations should be respected because we fight and train hard, but we don’t make that much money.”

Kianzad recently made her professional wrestling debut at a show in her native Sweden. While her immediate focus is on her MMA career, Kianzad enjoyed the change of scenery. “It was so much fun,” she smiled. “The whole experience was really fun because I didn’t have this huge pressure on my shoulders to win. It was just about having fun, and the pro-wrestling crowd are amazing. It was a huge adrenaline rush and I would love to do it again, because apparently I had a really good debut and not many do.”

As for when fans can expect to see her back in the cage, Kianzad has most certainly got a date in mind and, now injury free, she wants her appearances on cards to become a more regular occurence. “I am hoping for the July Invicta card – And I know my fans are asking for me to be on that card too. I like to fight often if I am healthy, which I am now, I am in great shape. So when I am healthy I prefer to have 3, maybe 4 fights per year.”

With her new status as a full-time MMA fighter, fans can expect to see much more of Pannie Kianzad as well as continued improvements from the young prospect.

 

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