Invicta Fighting Championships, a new all-female MMA promotion led by former Strikeforce matchmaker and talent relations manager Shannon Knapp, announced its first event this past week and aims to provide a platform to create depth among the women's ranks.
The debut Invicta FC card, set for April 28 in Kansas City, Kan.,
features matchups in each of the five major women's divisions ranging from 105
to 145 pounds and is headlined by a rematch between former Strikeforce women's
bantamweight champion Marloes "Rumina" Coenen (19-5) and France's Romy Ruyssen
In launching her new project, Knapp is focused on overcoming the
biggest challenge in promoting female fights, which is presently a lack of depth
at each weight. While the 115- and 135-pound divisions have long been regarded
as the premier women's weight classes, there is still a considerable amount of
room for improvement. Knapp agrees with UFC president Dana White's belief that
more time and effort must be devoted to promoting female fights and fighters in
order to establish credible divisions with multiple title contenders at any
The process, which Knapp admits will be challenging, begins
with the promotion's first event. In addition to the Coenen-Ruyssen rematch, the
card is highlighted by a 105-pound showdown between Bellator veterans Jessica
Penne (8-1) and Lisa Ellis-Ward (14-7). Notables Kaitlin Young (7-5), Liz
"Girl-Rilla" Carmouche (5-2) and Sarah "The Monster" D'Alelio (4-2) will also be
in action on the main card. The preliminary card features the long-awaited MMA
debut of 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in women's wrestling, Randi
Invicta FC plans to hold two more events in 2012 and intends to
establish a champion in at least one weight class before the end of this year,
with more champions to be crowned in 2013.
Jessica Eye victorious
in Ohio, returns to Bellator in April
Popular 125-pound prospect
Jessica "Evil" Eye (6-1) won for the third straight time on Feb. 18 at "NAAFS:
Caged Vengeance 10" in Cleveland, Ohio. Eye outstruck former NAAFS title
challenger Kelly Warren (3-2) through three rounds to earn a unanimous decision
victory. Scores were 30-27 across the board for Eye, who addressed the hometown
crowd following the fight.
Warren was aggressive throughout much of the
first round and found success with leg kicks in the opening two minutes. Eye
stayed on the outside and began to establish her jab, which she used to set up
quick combinations of punches.
Eye continued to score repeatedly with her
jab in the second stanza and she began to land a variety of kicks that prompted
Warren to pick up the pace with punching combinations. Eye maintained an edge by
chaining her strikes together as the round progressed.
In the final
round, Warren countered early jabs and leg kicks from Eye by taking the Ohio
native down to the mat. It was Eye who was most active, however, and she worked
for an armbar and a triangle choke until the referee called for a break. Back on
the feet, Eye took Warren down and bloodied her with elbows to put a stamp on a
well-earned decision victory.
At the conclusion of the bout, Eye spoke to
the crowd about a possible rematch with NAAFS women's champion Aisling "Ais The
Bash" Daly, who handed Eye her lone professional setback this past June. The
bout could take place later this year if both fighters are free.
got to be upfront and honest here. Aisling Daly beat me fair and square," Eye
said. "I'll never take anything away from that because she beat me, but ...
that's the past and I've got a bright future."
Eye's next fight appears
to already be in the works, as Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney confirmed that she has
a spot on the promotion's April 20 card.
Fury MMA 4 bout marred
by weight issues, post-fight altercation
British striker Stacy
"The Hammer" Hayes (1-1) picked up the first victory of her pro MMA career
Sunday night at "Fury MMA 4" in London, England, but the win did not come
without a considerable amount of controversy. Hayes defeated Chloe Hinchliffe
(0-1) by TKO (punches) at the 1:02 mark of round one.
Problems began the
day before the fight when both fighters weighed in. Hinchliffe came in at 64.7
kilograms (142.3 pounds) for the 65 kilogram fight and was informed that Hayes
had tipped the scales at 70.5 kilograms (155.1 pounds). She reluctantly agreed
to take the fight anyway and was awarded a percentage of Hayes' purse. Hayes
rehydrated overnight and the size difference between the two fighters was
immediately evident once the fight began.
After an early exchange of
punches, Hayes took her smaller opponent to the mat and moved straight to mount.
She landed a series of strikes from the top until the bout was stopped, but the
controversy did not end there. The fighters exchanged words in the center of the
cage and Hayes shoved Hinchliffe backwards with considerable force. Hayes was
physically restrained by two cornermen and continued to motion towards
Hinchliffe before eventually calming down.
Under the unified rules in
North America, bouts with significant weight discrepancies may be deemed to be
exhibition matches that do not count towards either fighter's professional or
amateur record. Regulation differs in the U.K. and is at times not present at
all. Fury MMA director Stephen Doran confirmed to MMAjunkie.com that Hayes'
victory will stand pending a review of the post-fight incident. Hayes previously
came in well overweight for a bout with Danielle West in June that was scrapped
entirely due to the weight discrepancy.
Nelson misses weight,
destroys Eklund in one
Weight issues were also present at Cage
Fighting Xtreme and Crowbar MMA's co-promoted "Winter Brawl" event on Feb. 18 in
Fargo, N.D. In what was intended to be her bantamweight debut, Strikeforce
veteran Shana "Rock Solid" Nelson (5-2) weighed in at 140 pounds for her bout
with an undersized and vastly outmatched Lina "Lynx" Eklund (1-1).
put Eklund on the defensive immediately with a barrage of punches that backed
the Swedish fighter up to the cage. Nelson appeared to hold a tremendous
strength advantage over her opponent and she scored at will with knees and
uppercuts. Eklund tried to circle away to escape, but Nelson chased her down and
dropped her with a left-right combo.
Eklund managed to hold on and fought
back to her feet, but Nelson landed punch after punch until Eklund collapsed to
the mat. Nelson dove in with hammerfist strikes until the lopsided bout was
mercifully stopped at the 4:45 mark of the opening round.
previously weighed in heavy for a December 2009 catchweight bout with Kaitlin
Young and has yet to come in below the 140-pound mark. She will be required to
make the bantamweight limit of 135 pounds at the debut Invicta FC show in April
when she faces fellow Strikeforce veteran Sarah D'Alelio.
headline Saturday's Strikeforce return to Ohio
For the first
time since August 2009, women will headline a major Strikeforce card this
Saturday night at "Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey" in Columbus, Ohio. Strikeforce
women's bantamweight champion Miesha "Takedown" Tate (12-2 MMA, 5-1 SF) defends
her title against unbeaten judoka "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey (4-0 MMA, 2-0 SF) in the
Both fighters have engaged in a war of words leading up to
the title bout, which has arguably attracted more attention from fans and media
alike than the 2009 showdown between Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos and Gina
"Conviction" Carano. Tate has made her feelings known that she does not believe
that Rousey, who has yet to compete at 135 pounds, deserves a shot at her
championship. Rousey believes that she is deserving of the fight and hopes to
lead a charge that will keep female fights at the forefront of Strikeforce this
year. The main card airs live on Showtime in the U.S. and Super Channel in
The preliminary portion of Saturday's card will also be headlined
by a women's bantamweight bout. Former champion Sarah Kaufman (14-1 MMA, 5-1 SF)
faces fellow Canadian Alexis Davis (11-4 MMA, 2-0 SF) in a rematch from Davis'
pro debut in 2007. Kaufman defeated Davis in the pair's first meeting and a
title shot looks to be up for grabs in the rematch. Kaufman believes that she
was overlooked by Strikeforce management and should have received the first shot
at Tate's title. She must first get past Davis, who has won three straight
fights. Preliminary bouts air live on Showtime Extreme in the U.S. and Super
Channel in Canada.
Jewels, Pink Fight MMA cards take shape for
Six bouts are official for "Jewels: 18th Ring" on March 3
in Tokyo. The all-female card is expected to be headlined by a bout between
promotional poster girl Mika "Future Princess" Nagano (8-6) and one-time
Valkyrie contender Emi "Kamikaze Angel" Fujino (10-5). Former Strikeforce title
challengers Roxanne "The Happy Warrior" Modafferi (15-9) and ex-teammate Takayo
Hashi (13-4) will also face off on the card.
One of Japan's top female
prospects, Mizuki Inoue (2-1), returns to Jewels to face unbeaten Australian
Alexandra Chambers (2-0) in a featured matchup. Inoue has been inactive in MMA
since a competitive decision loss to Jewels champion Ayaka Hamasaki in
September, but scored a big victory in a non-title Shoot Boxing match against Ai
Takahashi earlier this month. Chambers is a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
and makes her Jewels debut in the fight.
In other announced fights for
18th Ring, Yuko "Amiba" Oya (6-2) faces fellow grappler Emi Tomimatsu (4-4) and
Ayame "Iris" Miura (4-0) makes her Jewels debut against Norway's Celine Haga
(1-10). Two-division champion Yui Takada faces Satoko Ozawa in a kickboxing
match. The remainder of the card will be confirmed this week.
On March 10
in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's first all-female promotion, Pink Fight MMA, will
stage its second event. The card is headlined by a Pink Fight title bout at 60
kilograms (132 pounds) between long-time Brazilian standout Vanessa Porto (13-4)
and top prospect Jennifer Maia (5-1-1). Porto handed Maia her first professional
setback via technical submission in October.
Other bouts on the card
include Kalindra Carvalho Faria (3-3-1) vs. Aline Serio (2-2), Michele Dayana
(0-0) vs. Jenifer Araujo (0-3) and Rayane "Fortinha" (0-0) vs. "Ataide Girls"
(0-0). More fights will be announced in the coming week.
Larissa Tyler (2-0) defeated Lizzie Dorsett (0-1) by
submission (punches) at the 2:54 mark of round one at "Alaska Fighting
Championship 89: Date Night" on Feb. 15 in Anchorage. Tyler earned her second
stoppage victory after winning her pro debut in October.
Aguilar (13-4) defeated "Little" Patricia Vidonic (6-2) by unanimous decision at
"Fight Time Promotions 8: It's Fight Time" on Feb. 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Aguilar was able to outstrike her opponent with punches on the feet and on the
ground throughout much of the three-round bout. She prevented Vidonic from
getting back to her feet by kicking at her legs for prolonged stretches. Vidonic
was active from her back in the opening round and tried for an armbar, but
Aguilar easily escaped and took control as the bout progressed. Aguilar is
expected to face Megumi "Mega Megu" Fujii at an upcoming Bellator event. Vidonic
next battles Felice "Lil' Bulldog" Herrig at XFC 17 on April 13 in Jackson,
Amanda "Powerhouse" Lucas (4-1) defeated MMA pioneer Yumiko Hotta
(5-4) by submission (keylock) at the 2:16 mark of round three at "DEEP: 57
Impact" on Feb. 18 in Tokyo. Lucas controlled much of the bout with takedowns
and ground and pound, but Hotta surprised many with a game performance in her
first MMA bout since 2000. Hotta countered a takedown with a guillotine choke in
the third round, but Lucas managed to free herself and passed Hotta's guard
before setting up the fight-ending keylock. The victory earned Lucas the vacant
DEEP women's open-weight championship. She has won four straight fights, with
three of those wins coming under the DEEP banner, and has become a fan favorite
among the Japanese audience.
"Rowdy" Bec Hyatt (1-1) defeated Sarah
Morrison (0-1) by submission (armbar) at the 1:30 mark of round two at Brace For
War 14 on Feb. 18 in Canberra, Australia. Hyatt achieved her first win as a pro
after she was on the receiving end of a head-kick knockout in her October
Stephanie "The Scrapper" Skinner (1-3) defeated Brittany Nipper
(0-5) by TKO (punches) at the 4:36 mark of round two. The bout took place on
the all-female "Universal Fight Alliance 8: Women of MMA" card on Feb. 18 in
Casper, Wyo. Nipper looked to hold an edge during the first round of the
action-packed bout, but Skinner landed a head kick late in round two and took
her opponent down before finishing the fight with punches from
Charmaine "Not So Sweet" Tweet (1-2) defeated Marshelle Weinberger
(0-1) by submission (guillotine choke) at the 1:19 mark of round one at "HKFC:
School of Hard Knocks 20" on Feb. 24 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. Tweet
used her improving ground skills to secure her first pro win after a pair of
quick defeats this past year.
DeAnna Bennett (1-0) defeated Andrea
"Killer" Miller (3-7) by TKO (punches) at the 2:41 mark of round one at
"Showdown Fights: Breakout" on Feb. 24 in Orem, Utah. Bennett followed up on her
2-0 amateur career by overwhelming Miller with strikes en route to the
Emily Green (1-0) defeated Gina "Jitsu" Gallea (0-2)
by TKO (retirement) at the end of round one for FightForce on Feb. 24 in Helena,
Mont. Green impressed in her pro debut after picking up an amateur win for
FightForce this past year. Gallea suffered her second defeat in six weeks after
falling to Michelle Ould in January.
Joanne "JoJo" Calderwood (1-0)
defeated Noelia Molina (0-1) by TKO (punches) in round one at On Top 4 on Feb.
25 in Glasgow, Scotland. The bout was the first professional women's MMA fight
in the country's history.
Jeet Toshi (1-0) defeated Pooja Mehra (0-1) by
unanimous decision at Full Contact Championship 5 on Feb. 25 in Mumbai, India.
Toshi will make a quick return to action to face Nicole Chua at "ONE Fighting
Championship 3: War of the Lions" on March 31 in
Yana "Foxy" Kunitskaya
(6-1) faces Anna Melikhova (0-0) at "Lion's Fights 1: The Beginning" on March 3
in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kunitskaya has been very active in recent months and
has won four straight fights by first-round TKO. She expects to give up nearly
50 pounds to Melikhova in the open-weight bout next month.
(6-2) faces Angela Magana (11-4) at "MEZ Sports: Pandemonium 6" on March 3 in
Riverside, Calif. Esparza competes in a five-round title fight for the first
time in her MMA career and is coming off of an impressive decision victory over
Felice Herrig in December. Magana drops down to 115 for a shot at capturing the
Pandemonium women's title. She has won five of her past six fights. This event
streams live on Sherdog.com.
Maiju "Mai" Kujala (6-3) faces Juliana
"Thai" Carneiro Lima (3-0) on March 9 in Beirut, Lebanon. Kujala earned
back-to-back first-round TKO victories this past year and is already scheduled
to face unbeaten Ukrainian prospect Lena "Hunter" Ovchynnikova in April. She
must first get past Carneiro Lima, who has yet to taste defeat and fights
outside of Brazil for the first time.
Rachel "The Riot" Kemker (0-1)
faces Jenna "Harley SoCal" Bernick (0-1) at "SteelFist Fight Night 6" on March 9
in Salt Lake City, Utah. This bout is the first women's fight in the promotion's
history and will be contested in the heavyweight division.
(1-0) faces Lisa Jeanson (1-1) at "The Beatdown 9: Army vs. Marines 3" on March
10 in Denver, Colo. Harris surprised many by upsetting Jennifer "Lil' Ice" Berg
in October and looks for her second pro win. Jeanson was defeated by Berg in her
pro debut, but rebounded with a quick submission victory this past
"Windy" Tomomi Sunaba (17-13-1) faces Saori "Shooting Star"
Ishioka (11-7) at "Pancrase Progress Tour 3" on March 11 in Tokyo. This bout
will be Sunaba's retirement fight after a 13-year career in kickboxing and MMA.
She has won five of her past six fights and is one of the most skilled female
strikers in Japanese MMA history. Ishioka remains one of the top stars in
Jewels, but she has suffered consecutive losses for the first time in her career
and looks to end the losing streak at Sunaba's expense.
On the same
Pancrase card, 16-year-old grappler Shino VanHoose (2-0) faces former Valkyrie
competitor Kimie "Sakura" Okada (0-5-1). VanHoose made her MMA debut for
Pancrase in October and needed just 51 seconds to choke out Nana Ichikawa with a
rarely-seen Ezekiel choke. In December, she defeated Asami Higa under the Jewels
banner. Okada remains in search of her first pro win and will be an underdog to
the teen prospect next month.