Invicta FC 22 takes place this Saturday from the organisation’s traditional home of the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Main eventing the card will be Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger, as she looks to set the record straight against Yana Kunitskaya following a controversial first meeting between the two last November. Joining me in previewing the week’s action is current Invicta FC star, Pannie Kianzad.
The first three bouts on the undercard feature 6 fighters who are all in possession of 1 – 0 records. In the featherweight, Felicia Spencer takes on Madison McElhaney, while at strawweight, Kal Holliday faces Miranda Maverick and Iceland’s Sunna Davíðsdóttir makes her second Invicta appearance opposite Mallory Martin. It is a chance for all 6 to lay down a marker and make a statement that they are prospects to watch in their division.
Felicia Spencer vs Madison McElhaney
- Pannie Kianzad (PK) pick – Felicia Spencer – Felicia fought on the same card as me in her debut, she fought really well and won pretty quickly so I’m picking her to win.
- Keefe McKenna (KM) pick – Felicia Spencer
Kal Holliday vs Miranda Maverick
- PK pick – Kal Holliday
- KM pick – Kal Holliday – I was really impressed with Halliday in her first Invicta fight, convincingly beating Tiffany van Soest. She looks to have a bright future.
Sunna Davíðsdóttir vs Mallory Martin
- PK pick – Sunna Davíðsdóttir
- KM pick – Sunna Davíðsdóttir – Like Halliday, Davíðsdóttir looked like a great prospect in her debut, and training with people like Gunnar Nelson and the coaches at Mjölnir MMA can only make her better.
Amber Brown vs Ashley Cummins
Next in line is another strawweight bout which features former Invicta FC atomweight title challenger Amber Brown facing off against Ashley Cummins. Brown surged her way to an ultimately unsuccessful Invicta FC atomweight title shot against Ayaka Hamasaki following 3 wins in her first 3 fights for the promotion, 2 of which came by submission. Brown made the jump to strawweight following that loss, only to suffer another defeat to Ashley Yoder. Making her return to atomweight, Brown is aiming at earning another shot at Invicta gold. Cummins holds an MMA record of 4 – 3, with all three losses coming in Invicta, albeit against top contenders. Following a brief stint on The Ultimate Fighter season 23, Cummins returned to action at Bellator 157 last June, submitting Nicole Smith in the second round. Cummins will be looking to carry over the momentum gained in that win into her fifth Invicta bout.
- PK pick – Amber Brown – This is a really good fight, but I think Brown will win.
- KM pick – Amber Brown – I think Brown returning to 105 pounds is the best move for her, and I think it will result in a good performance and a big win for her.
Jinh Yu Frey vs Janaisa Morandin
Fresh from an atomweight title shot of her own, Jinh Yu Frey returns to the Invicta cage to take on the much talked about Brazilian Janaisa “Evil Princess” Morandin. Prior to her controversially stopped loss to Ayaka Hamasaki last September, Frey was riding a 3-fight winning streak which included a hugely impressive decision win over former Invicta champion Herica Tiburcio. The manner in which she was denied the opportunity to claim the Invicta atomweight title last time out means that Frey will certainly be champing at the bit to get back into contention, and a win over Morandin could do just that. For Morandin, who boasts an unbeaten 9 – 0 record, this is a big chance to forge a name for herself. For a debut, she could scarcely be awarded a tougher fight than Frey, but with 6 finishes in her 9 professional fights to date, she is certainly a dangerous opponent for any 105 pounder.
- PK pick – Jinh Yu Frey – “Jinh’s last fight was stopped for no reason – the cut was nothing. I think she wins this fight”
- KM pick – Jinh Yu Frey – “Morandin’s record shows she is clearly a dangerous fighter, but I have reservations about the strength of the opponents she’s faced considering 4 of them have no professional wins. I have to side with Frey.”
Jodie Esquibel vs DeAnna Bennett
In a strawweight bout original scheduled for Invicta FC 21, Jodie Esquibel and DeAnna Bennett will collide in what should be a crowd-friendly fight. Esquibel is another who had a stint on The Ultimate Fighter season 23, and subsequently found herself back in the Invicta cage, losing a decision to Alexa Grasso at Invicta FC 18 which snapped her 2-fight winning run. Her opponent, DeAnna Bennett, is also looking to get back to winning ways following back to back losses against Roxanne Modafferi and Livia Renata Souza in a strawweight title bout in January of 2016. Having seen their bout cancelled last time out, both fighters will be raring to go and the end result should be an entertaining fight.
- PK pick – DeAnna Bennett – Oh don’t make me pick this one! I like both girls! Okay, if I have to pick ………. I’m gonna go with……….. DeAnna.
- KM pick – Jodie Esquibel – This is my fight of the night pick. I’m just leaning slightly towards Esquibel.
Ayaka Hamasaki vs Livia Renata Souza
The co-main event sees Invicta FC atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki move up to strawweight where she will meet the division’s former champion, Livia Renata Souza. Since her only career loss to Claudia Gadelha at Invicta FC 6, Hamasaki has gone on a reeled off 5 straight wins, including capturing the Invicta atomweight title and defending it twice. In moving up to 115lbs, it appears as if her intentions are to earn a UFC contract, and beating the former champion could see her achieve that sooner rather than later. For Souza, this is her chance to erase the memory of losing her title, and unbeaten record, to Angela Hill last time out. “Livinha” is dead set on winning back the title she lost and a win over Hamasaki would likely get her that shot, but would also certainly be the biggest victory of the 26-year-old’s career.
- PK pick – Ayaka Hamasaki – I’m going Ayaka. She’s really good, I think she wins this fight.
- KM pick – Livia Renata Souza – Livia has a size advantage, and I think that’ll be the big difference, especially in the grappling exchanges.
Tonya Evinger vs Yana Kunitskaya
In a rematch of their Invicta FC 20 main event, Tonya Evinger and Yana Kunitskaya meet to settle the score once and for all with the Invicta FC bantamweight title on the line. Kunitskaya left the cage with the belt following an armbar submission last time out, but the belt was returned to Evinger and the result changed to a no contest following an appeal from Evinger, due to the fact that referee Mike England incorrectly stopped Evinger from standing on Kunitskaya’s face to defend the submission, which is actually legal. The outcome left Invicta no real option but to make the rematch and it takes place in the main event on Saturday.
- PK pick – Tonya Evinger – I picked Tonya last time, but I don’t know, Yana looked good in the first fight. I think Tonya should win though.
- KM pick – Tonya Evinger – Yana is aggressive and dangerous, but I believe Tonya is the better fighter and finishes it in the second or third.
Invicta 27 Officially Announced
The all-women promotion, Invicta FC, returns to Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018 for Invicta 27. The promotion announced on their website, the promotions inaugural 2018 event will start the new year off with a fan-friendly main event, Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) vs. Pannie Kianzad (8-2).
Kaufman returns to Invicta FC after a three-year stint with the UFC. The Canadian athlete fought once prior, in the female-only promotion, defeating Leslie Smith via split decision. Both women earned Fight of the Night honors for their efforts. In her previous three bouts, Kaufman posted a record of 1-2. The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion lost her final two UFC bouts against Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko. Her most recent bout was a victory over Jessica Rose-Clark, in the Battlefield FC promotion.
The veteran Kaufman made her debut in 2006, nearly six years before her opponent. Pannie Kianzad made her professional debut with the Estonian promotion MMA Raju, in 2012. Kianzad began her career undefeated in eight bouts. On the way, capturing the Cage Warriors bantamweight championship. The Iranian-Swede holds an identical record to Kaufman in her previous three bouts, 1-2. Currently, she finds herself on a two-loss skid.
In the co-main event, Vanessa Porto (19-8) faces Mariana Morais (12-5). The Brazilian, Morais, is coming off a disappointing title challenge in the flyweight division of the KSW promotion. Ariane Lipski submitted her in 58 seconds. Porto, however, is fresh off her Invicta 26, TKO victory over, Milana Dudieva.
Porto is an Invicta FC veteran, having fought in seven of the promotions twenty-six held events. Throughout her career, the veteran faced the best women the world had to offer. The thirty-three-year-old has fought the likes of Roxanne Modafferi (twice), Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Barb Honchak, Tara LaRosa, Jennifer Maia (twice), Tonya Evinger, Germain De Randamie, Amanda Nunes, and Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The first card of 2018 for Invicta holds a plethora of inexperienced women. Of the 17 women booked for the card, only four women hold ten or more professional fights on their record. Another four women will make their professional MMA debut: Loma Lookboonmee, Jade Ripley, Helen Peralta, and Akeela Al-Hameed. The Invicta 27, the card will feature nine bouts. The event will take place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018. The card will proceed as follows:
Pannie Kianzad (8-2) vs. Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) – Bantamweight Division
Vanessa Porto (19-8) vs. Mariana Morais (12-5) – Flyweight Division
Sharon Jacobson (4-2) vs. Ashely Nichols (3-1) – Strawweight Division
Ashley Cummings (5-4) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-2) – Atomweight Division
Brogan Walker-Sanchez (4-0) vs. TBA – Flyweight Division
Felicia Spencer (3-0) vs. Akeela Al-Hameed (0-0) – Featherweight Division
Mallory Martin (1-2) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-1) – Strawweight Division
Melissa Wang (1-0) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (0-0) – Atomweight Division
Jade Ripley (0-0) vs. Helen Peralta (0-0) – Strawweight Division
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!
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