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Megan Anderson vs. Amber Leibrock – Invicta FC 15’s Fight to Watch

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Megan Anderson Invicta

It is safe to say that Megan Anderson’s Invicta debut did not go to plan in September when she was out-grappled and eventually submitted by Cindy Dandois. There were mitigating circumstances, not only because this was Anderson’s first time fighting outside of Australia, but because it was a massive step up in competition against a more experienced and desperately underrated opponent.

There was definite disrespect towards Dandois, never from Anderson herself, but from her fast-growing fan base. They had all but written the W onto Anderson’s record, already talking about matching her up with Cris Cyborg after she secured what was being touted as a routine victory.

Having won four straight in Australia and installed as a significant betting favorite, Anderson has admitted to being overconfident going into the fight. Against lesser opposition that might not have cost her the win. Against a fighter in Dandois, who already held wins over Marloes Coenen and Daria Ibragimova, it turned an already difficult task into an impossible one. Dandois submitted Anderson by triangle choke approaching the halfway point in round two.

It was a pivotal moment in Anderson’s young career. Her reaction to what must have been a devastating defeat could not have been better. Opting to stay and relocate to the United States, Anderson now trains at Glory MMA. Already a fighter with good footwork and mobility, who works behind a strong jab and has fast hands and combinations, all signs point towards us seeing the best version of Anderson we have seen yet when she steps into the Invicta cage January 16.

Anderson faces Amber Leibrock in the opening bout at Invicta FC 15, and the above is part of what makes it such an intriguing contest. Leibrock, like Anderson, is a natural 145 pounder who looks in great fighting shape at the weight. On top of that, like Anderson, Leibrock is at a developmental point in her career where we should be seeing significant improvements every time she steps into the cage.

The Bay Area Fight Academy prospect made her Invicta debut in July against the Fourth of the Horsewomen, Marina Shafir. In stark contrast to Anderson’s first foray into the Invicta cage, all of the hype was on Leibrock’s opponent. Shafir was known not only for her association with Ronda Rousey but for an impressive run of six first round submissions — five amateur contests and her professional debut — which had seen her earmarked as most people’s top prospect at 145 pounds.

Amanda Bell had knocked Shafir out in August 2014, but it still hadn’t tempered the level of expectation attached to her. In fact, we were told in the build-up to the fight that the defeat had only made Shafir stronger and refocused her desire to build a career at the top level. This was supposed to be the start of a new chapter that saw the fighter cruise to the summit of the 145-pound mountain.

It took Leibrock only 37 seconds to knock Shafir out. Reading the result in isolation you could be forgiven for thinking this was a flash knockout, but it wasn’t. Leibrock had already found a home for her lead left and her aggressive combinations when Shafir was forced to back up in a straight line eating punches. A solid right hand dropped her, and more of them once Shafir hit the mat turned the lights out.

The bout between Anderson and Leibrock might be tucked away neatly as the first of nine on the Invicta FC 15 card, but it is a great fight between two evenly matched featherweights. Both are comfortable fighting at range; both have accurate jabs and lead punches; both have fast hands and know when to see an opening and let them go; both are great athletes who are mobile around the cage; both are underrated on the ground.

The featherweight talent pool is fractured, with the best in the world split between Bellator and Invicta. That has amplified the perception that featherweight is the most shallow of the five major women’s weight classes. It is also not a weight class packed with great athletes. To see two 145 pound fighters who are this mobile colliding is exactly what is needed at an awkward time for the division.

More than that, for Anderson this is a chance to show the world the fighter we hoped to see against Cindy Dandois in September last year. And now, maybe even a better one than that.

For Leibrock, a second win against another top prospect would show her to be excelling among her peers and cement her status as the next big thing at 145 pounds.

Don’t log onto Fight Pass late on January 16. You’ll miss a fight with genuine show-stealing potential. One, or perhaps both of the fighters involved, will walk out of the Invicta FC 15 cage having sent a message to the rest of the featherweight division that they are here to stay as a major threat.

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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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