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Invicta FC 18: Grasso vs. Esquibel Preview

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On Friday night, Invicta Fighting Championships return to Kansas City for the 18th event in their four-year history. The show, headlined by a strawweight scrap between Alexa Grasso and Jodie Esquibel, represents the 11th time that Invicta have promoted in Missouri’s largest city.

It is a weekend where fan attention comes at a premium. The Resurrection Fighting Alliance, World Series of Fighting, and the industry-leading Ultimate Fighting Championship are all throwing their hat into the promotional ring. When you combine that with the fact that not one of Invicta’s five champions — six if you include interim flyweight champion Jennifer Maia — are defending their belts on Friday, it is easy to see how Invicta FC 18 could get overlooked by all but the most hardcore of women’s MMA fans.

No fewer than four fighters were forced off the card due to VISA related issues. For Brazilians Claudia Rey and Taila Santos, along with Indian Manjit Kolekar, getting the paperwork done in time for the event was a problem large enough to see them removed from the lineup. For Irene Aldana, who was set to face Santos, the news came too late in the day for Invicta to find a replacement opponent and she was also dropped.

Yet while the doomy clouds of short notice removals have dampened the spirts of the fighters missing out on the opportunity to showcase their skills, the card has survived. In some places, it has actually improved. The additions of MIZUKI and Christine Stanley, who will face Lynn Alvarez and Agnieszka Niedzwiedz respectively, have reinvigorated bouts that otherwise lacked appeal.

On top of that, we have significant title implications in arguably Invicta’s two deepest divisions. The main event, which pits Mexican standout Alexa Grasso against Jackson Wink product Jodie Esquibel, will determine the next challenger for Invicta FC strawweight champion Angela Hill. The champ is arguably the women’s fighter of the year so far in 2016, racking up three wins inside the Invicta cage and dethroning former champion Livia Renata Souza in the process. A future title defence against either of Friday night’s main eventers would be a mouthwatering prospect.

In the co-main event, it’s the flyweights who will be pushing for a shot at an interim title. With Barb Honchak unlikely to return anytime soon, Jennifer Maia’s tin-title is the short term goal for the best 125 pounders that Invicta has to offer. Both Agnieszka Niedzwiedz and Christine Stanley are among that group and a win for either would see them move into contention in a hurry.

What the event also has is a three-pronged showcase for fighter’s with “best in the world” level potential. Alexa Grasso, Aspen Ladd, and Megan Anderson have all shown signs in their young careers that they could develop into the number one fighters in their respective divisions.

At strawweight, Grasso’s upside has long been discussed by fans of the sport. Outstanding Invicta showings against Alida Gray and Mizuki, in particular, have only increased the hype. The problem for Grasso has been remaining healthy enough, for long enough, to actually make it into the cage and build on those performances. That is something she will be aiming to put right against Jodie Esquibel on Friday.

At bantamweight, Aspen Ladd will be looking to improve her career record to 4-0 against Jessica Hoy. Ladd’s ability is impossible to deny, not least because she was able to dominate and control The Ultimate Fighter finalist Amanda Bobby Cooper back at Invicta FC 14. Ladd impressed in her 135-pound debut against Kelly McGill in March and is still only 21-years-old.

Megan Anderson completes the exciting trio. A tall, rangy featherweight who is strong in the clinch and has accurate, powerful hands, the Australian has done everything right since losing in her Invicta debut to the more experienced Cindy Dandois. Opting to move permanently to the United States to train full time at James Krause’s Glory MMA, Anderson looked good in her rebound fight against Amber Leibrock at Invicta FC 15, before turning it up a notch against Amanda Bell at Invicta FC 17 in what was by far her best career performance to date. The 145-pound division is desperately in need of new stars, so the emergence of one from the Gold Coast has been a major boost.

Invicta FC 18 promises to provide a future shock, and could be an event that we look back on in a couple of years time as an important step along the road to the top for three of Invicta’s most exciting prospects. That’s reason enough to tune into UFC Fight Pass on Friday to catch all the action from the Scottish Rite Temple.

The full fight card for Invicta FC 18 can be found below:

  • Strawweight: Alexa Grasso (7-0) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-1)
  • Flyweight: Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (7-0) vs. Christine Stanley (5-1)
  • Strawweight: MIZUKI (11-4) vs. Lynn Alvarez (6-3)
  • Bantamweight: Cindy Dandois (6-2) vs. Jessamyn Duke (3-4, 1 NC)
  • Featherweight: Megan Anderson (6-2) vs. Peggy Morgan (4-3)
  • Atomweight: Tessa Simpson (4-1) vs. Simona Soukupova (5-3-1)
  • Bantamweight: Aspen Ladd (3-0) vs. Jessica Hoy (1-0)
  • Bantamweight: Sijara Eubanks (1-1) vs. Amberlynn Orr (0-0)

Invicta Fighting Championships 18 takes place Friday, July 29 at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri, and airs live on UFC Fight Pass.

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EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity

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Jack Shore, a promising up and coming Welsh Featherweight who will be fighting on his fourth main Cage Warriors card in only his sixth professional fight. Despite his opponent, Federico Mini, dropping out days prior to the event, Shore isn’t concerned ahead of the opponent change. “Just another fight, I’m ready for anything come fight night and I’m looking forward to the challenge”. Cage Warriors have confirmed that Shore will now be fighting Italian, Mattia Galbiati.

Shore last fought at the Newport Centre, Wales at Cage Warriors 83, defeating his opponent Konmon Deh convincingly with a first-round submission. The crowd was electric for both his entrance and when his opponent tapped due to armbar, “I have a massive following and they like to make themselves heard on fight night, it’s getting bigger and bigger every time!”

Whilst using his extensive grappling to win the fight, the Tillery Combat MMA Academy fighter was very aggressive with his strikes on the ground, “I believe my grappling style is very different to what people are used to seeing and that’s why it’s entertaining to watch. I’m always looking to advance and put the pressure on, but I also try to use punches and elbows to set up my transitions.”

Being undefeated throughout his amateur career (including winning the IMMAF European Championships), to then continue being undefeated throughout his early professional career, Shore has a mature mindset for such a young fighter to how the sport works, “Obviously no one wants to lose but you have to be aware that it’s a possibility because anything can happen in this sport. But by being aware it allows me to train and prepare correctly to do everything I can (do) to prevent that from happening.”

Whilst growing up, Shore states that he wasn’t the most confident of people, “As a kid growing up I was never the world’s most confident person.” Cage Warriors being on BT Sport within the UK, being the biggest European MMA promotion, and having the following Shore has, he feels no pressure of fighting, “But as far as MMA is concerned I don’t feel any pressure at all. There’s obviously the fight day nerves but anyone will tell you I deal with them very well and am more than comfortable in that environment.”

With the current revolution of MMA in Wales occurring, former Cage Warriors fighters Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Philips all in the UFC, Josh Reed who has just come off a title shot with Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood, Lewis Long being the best Welterweight in the UK. It brings a realistic opportunity of making the UFC, “Definitely. Since the first bunch of Welsh guys have been signed to the UFC it’s shown for guys like me, Lewis Long and Josh Reed that what we are pushing for is no doubt achievable. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing then that dream won’t be too far away.”

Whilst having such a successful start to his professional career, and with the attention, this young Welshman is bringing, Shore is in no rush for the Cage Warriors belt, but is prepared if the opportunity arises. “I’m just taking one fight at a time. I’m aware that I’m still young in terms of my pro career so I will continue to fight whoever Cage Warriors put in front of me. Should a big opportunity like that present itself I’ll make sure I’m ready.”

Shore seems to be mature for someone of the age of just 22, the future seems bright for the young Welshman. Jack Shore fights on the up and coming Cage Warriors 87 card Saturday, 14th October at the Newport Centre, Newport, Wales. The event will be free-to-air on UK sports channels FreeSports, as well as be on UFC FightPass and via the red button on BT Sport.

Check the main card out for Cage Warriors 87 below:

Lewis Long vs Roberto Soldic (Welterweight)
Craig White vs Matt Inman (Welterweight)
Jack Shore vs Mattia Galbiati (Featherweight)
Aiden Lee vs Ludovit Klein (Featherweight)
Aaron Khalid vs Ross Houston (Welterweight)

By Ieuan Thomas.

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Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree JR Added to UFC 219

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Kickboxing superstar Gokhan Saki will make his return to the octagon just three months after his UFC debut, as he faces Khalil Rountree at UFC 219.

Saki (1-1 ) made a big statement at UFC Japan in September, knocking out Henrique de Silva with a devastating, statement making left hook.

Rountree (6-2) is a TUF-23 alumni. His UFC run started unsuccessfully losing two in a row including his TUF 23 contract fight. However, Rountree is now on a two-fight winning streak after picking up consecutive first round knockout victories against Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly.

After making his MMA debut in 2004, Saki signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in May and was succesful in his return to the cage. Saki’s first round KO of de Silva earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.

Neither Saki or Rountree are currently ranked in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, so a win at UFC 219 could most certainly push either of the two in the top fifteen at 205-pounds.

With the addition of Saki vs. Rountree, your current line-up for the UFC 219 card on December 30th is as follows:

Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
* Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree – Light heavyweight bout

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*Live Updates* UFC 216 Official Results

Harry Davies

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Live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the UFC hosted their eighth PPV card of this year as fans were treated to UFC 216.

The card was headlined by a Interim Lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson (23-3) and Kevin Lee (16-2). Ferguson entered the octagon holding the record for the longest winning streak in UFC lightweight division history (9). Beating top names such as Rafael Dos Anjos and Edson Barboza in the process.

#7 ranked Lee last fought in June of this year, earning the biggest victory of his career when he defeated Michael Cheisa by first round submission (rear-naked choke).

In the co-main event, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) was hoping to break the record for most consecutive title defenses as he faced Ray Borg (11-2). The record (10) was held by both Johnson and former middlweight champion, Anderson Silva.

Johnson and Borg were originally scheduled to fight in the main event of UFC 215 last month, but the title fight was cancelled a day before the event was supposed to take place, as Borg pulled out of the fight due to illness.


UFC 216 Official Results:

MAIN CARD – PAY PER VIEW – 10PM/7PM ETPT

  • #2 Tony Ferguson (24-3) vs. #7 Kevin Lee (16-3) – For UFC Interim Lightweight Championship
    • Result: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via SUB (triangle choke) Round 3 – 4:02
  • (C) Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1) vs. #3 Ray Borg (11-3) – For UFC Flyweight Championship 
    • Result: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via SUB (armbar) Round 5 – 3:15 
  • #2 Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1) vs. Walt Harris (10-6)
    • Result: Fabricio Werdum def. Walt Harris via SUB (armbar) Round 1 – 1:05
  • Mara Romero Borella (12-4) vs. Kalinda Faria (16-6-1)
    • Result: Mara Romero Barella def. Kalindra Faria via SUB (rear-naked choke) Round 1 – 2:54
  • #12 Beneil Dariush (14-3-1) vs. #14 Evan Dunham (17-6-1)
    • Result: Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham declared a Majority Draw (29-29, 28-28, 28-28)

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • Tom Duquesnoy (15-2) vs Cody Stamman (15-1)
    • Result: Cody Stamann def. Tom Duquesnoy via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
  • Bobby Green (23-8-1) vs. Lando Vannata (9-2-1)
    • Result: Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata declared a Draw (split) (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
  • Marco Beltran (8-6) vs. Matt Schnell (10-4)
    • Result:  Matt Schnell def. Marco Beltrán via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 7PM/4PM ETPT

  • #15 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1) vs. #11 John Moraga (18-6)
    • Result:  John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov via KO (punch) – Round 1 – 1:38
  • #13 Thales Leites (27-8) vs. Brad Tavares (16-4)
    • Result: Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via Unanimous (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
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