The sold-out OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California played host to Invicta FC 15 on Saturday night. The card had been decimated by injuries, with a number of fighters appearing on short notice. Bouts had even been canceled, as the original nine-fight card had been cut down to seven. Still, the Invicta cage hosted six finishes throughout the show and a number of standout performances.
On a night when Invicta’s announce team made every effort to remind fans that she was the most dominant woman in mixed martial arts, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (15-1) played her part with a performance to match. Her opponent, Daria Ibragimova (9-2) went after Cyborg’s legs, refusing to let go of single-leg takedown attempts throughout the first round, but that only delayed the inevitable. Just as it was starting to look like Ibragimova might make it out of the first round, Cyborg landed a straight right hand that dropped her to the mat. Hammerfists followed, and referee John McCarthy stopped the action. We were left with the same question we so often have been after Cyborg’s impressive victories: Who is next?
The smart money had been on the co-main event between Livia Renata Souza (9-0) and DeAnna Bennett (8-1) waging a nip and tuck five-round war for the Invicta strawweight title. That money was wrong, as Souza made the first successful defense of her title in stunning fashion. The Brazilian looked comfortable and relaxed in the cage before she landed a body kick that dropped Bennett. Punches followed as referee Jason Herzog quickly moved to stop the bout. Souza made it nine wins without a defeat, and sent a clear message that she is ready to make the step up to the UFC.
In a bantamweight clash that was expected to produce the next challenger for Tonya Evinger’s Invicta title, it was Colleen Schneider (10-6) who impressed the judges enough to win a three round decision against Raquel Pa’aluhi (5-5). Considered the underdog, Schneider worked her range and picked Pa’aluhi apart with strikes. Pa’aluhi was able to take Schneider down, but could never hold her there as two of the three judges scored in Schneider’s favor.
Amber Brown (6-1) furthered her claim for an atom weight title shot with a quick submission of Shino VanHoose (4-4). Having stepped in on short notice, VanHoose struggled to match Brown’s level of physicality and tapped to a guillotine choke halfway through the first round. After the bout, Brown made it clear that she wanted Invicta FC atom weight champion, Ayaka Hamasaki, next time out.
Mizuki Inoue (10-4) rebounded from back to back defeats in the Invicta cage, with a third round submission victory over Lacey Schuckman. Inoue remained one step ahead of her opponent throughout the grapple-heavy contest. After a dominant second round, Inoue pushed even harder for the finish in the third, eventually forcing Schuckman to submit with an armbar.
Former UFC strawweight Angela Hill (3-2) made quick work of Alida Gray (4-3) in her Invicta FC debut. Hill had set the tone, landing a hard uppercut and avoiding Gray’s attempts to work into the clinch. The Ultimate Fighter 20 contestant picked Gray apart, eventually swarming as her opponent backed up against the cage hurt, finishing the fight with a knee to the body.
In the opening bout Australian featherweight, Megan Anderson (5-2) impressed with a third round stoppage of Amber Leibrock (1-1). Anderson had to weather a first round storm, rocked early on, but went on to control the majority of the fight. Leibrock had found herself backed up against the cage for much of the contest, and that’s where it ended as Anderson landed hard knees to force the stoppage halfway through the third round.
January 16, 2016| The Hangar at the OC Fair | Costa Mesa, California
MAIN CARD – UFC Fight Pass, 9 p.m. ET
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino def. Daria Ibragimova via KO (punches) Round 1, 4:58
Livia Renata Souza def. DeAnna Bennett via TKO (body kick and punches) Round 1, 1:30
Colleen Schneider def. Raquel Pa’aluhi via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Amber Brown def. Shino VanHoose via submission (guillotine choke) Round 1, 2:36
Mizuki Inoue def. Lacey Schuckman via submission (armbar) Round 3, 3:41
Angela Hill def. Alida Gray via KO (knee to the body) Round 1, 1:39
Megan Anderson def. Amber Leibrock via TKO (knees) Round 3, 2:33
Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut
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.
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) December 9, 2017
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.
Andrea Lee on USADA Drug Test Failure “You can get Suspended for Anything”
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!
Pannie Kianzad on Becoming a Full-Time Fighter
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.
— PannieBanzaiKianzad (@PannieKianzad) May 29, 2017
“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.”
— #UFC214 #LetsGoChamp (@criscyborg) May 27, 2017
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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