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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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Bellator

Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes

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Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.

 

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Bellator

Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video

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Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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UFC 221 Rockhold vs. Romero Live Results

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UFC 221 marks the first event hosted by the promotion in Western Australia. UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at the Perth Arena. The co-main event features Australian star, Mark Hunt against Curtis Blaydes. In the main event, Luke Rockhold looks to earn the Middleweight interim title when he takes on Yoel Romero. Romero is not eligible to earn the interim Middleweight title due to the fact that the Cuban missed weight. Yoel Romero replaced the original headliner of the card, Robert Whittaker. Whittaker, current Middleweight champion, withdrew from the event due to a serious case of mistreated staph infection.

FIGHT NIGHT BONUSES:

Fight of the night: Li Jianliang vs. Jake Matthews

Performance of the night: Jussier Formiga, Israel Adesanya

MAIN CARD – PPV – 10PM/7PM ETPT

  • Yoel Romero (12-2) vs. Luke Rockhold (13-3) – Catchweight (187.7) bout
    • Result: Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (punch) 1:48 round 3
  • Mark Hunt (13-11, 1 NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) – Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
  • Tai Tuivasa (8-0) vs. Cyril Asker (9-3) – Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (punches and elbows) 2:18 round 1
  • Jake Matthews (12-3) vs. Li Jianliang (14-4) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jake Matthews def. Li Jianliang via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs Saparbek Safarov (8-1) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via submission (kimura) 3:54 round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • Damien Brown (17-11) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via split decision (29-28, 29-28 Kim, 29-28 Brown)
  • Rob Wilkinson (11-1) vs. Israel Adesanya (11-0) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (punches) 3:37 round 2
  • Jeremy Kennedy (11-0) vs Alexander Volkovski (16-1) – Featherweight bout
    • Result: Alexander Volkovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (punches) 4:57 round 2
  • Jussier Formiga (20-5) vs Ben Nguyen (17-6) – Flyweight bout
    • Result: Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via technical submission (RNC) 1:43 round 3

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 6:30PM/3:30PM ETPT

  • Ross Pearson (21-12, 1 NC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (19-8-2) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Teruto Ishihara (10-4) vs. José Alberto Quiñónez (7-2) – Bantamweight bout
    • Result: José Alberto Quiñónez def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Luke Jumeau (12-4) vs. Daichi Abe (6-0) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)
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