By Adam Martin, sportsnet.ca
Invicta’s first foray into the world of cable and satellite pay-per-views turned out to be a successful one as the all-women promotion’s sixth event was full of non-stop action and exciting matchups, featuring 20 of the top female mixed martial artists in the world.
Invicta FC 6 took place Saturday night at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, MO, and in the main event of the evening, Cris Cyborg won the inaugural Invicta FC featherweight championship by running through a tough-as-nails Marloes Coenen with a fourth-round TKO victory that proved once again Cyborg is the best 145-pound female in the world.
For nearly 20 minutes, Cyborg threw Coenen around the cage, punching and kneeing her so hard in the head so many times it actually became hard to watch. Many on social media were begging for the fight to be called.
Although Coenen showed an incredible amount of heart and toughness, referee Big John McCarthy let the fight go on as long as he could before finally calling off the bout at the 4:02 mark of the fourth round of the championship bout, giving Cyborg a second win over Coenen, as well as the Invicta FC 145-pound strap.
It was such a dominant win that it re-ignited talks of Cyborg taking on UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in a super-fight, a highly-intriguing bout that would easily draw huge PPV numbers. It won’t happen while Cyborg is still under contract with Invicta, so look for the new champ to make a few title defences before a fight against Rousey in the UFC ever comes to fruition.
In the co-main event of the evening, Brazilian Claudia Gadelha defeated Ayaka Hamasaki via third-round TKO to win a shot at Invicta FC strawweight champion Carla Esparza later this year.
It was a pretty one-sided match as Gadelha easily took down Hamasaki and controlled her on the ground with her heavy top game, going for submission attempts as well as ground and pound until finally overwhelming Hamasaki in the third by finishing her at 3:58 with a barrage of punches from a dominant position on the ground.
The bout wasn’t without controversy though, as Gadelha was deducted a point in the first round due to an illegal knee to the head of a grounded Hamasaki, but she overcame the possible threat of a draw by winning the fight with a stoppage. She’ll now take on Esparza at the next Invicta show in a bout that will determine who is the best 115-pound female fighter on the planet.
In a women’s bantamweight bout, Lauren Taylor continued to stay undefeated in mixed martial arts with a unanimous decision win over Sarah D’Alelio. The Texas native got the nod by judges’ scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Taylor won the fight with her grinding, wrestling-type game plan, although D’Alelio did make things interesting in the third when she was able to hit Taylor with some clean strikes.
But it was too little, too late. Look for Taylor to move into title contention with one more victory in the Invicta FC cage – or, possibly, get signed by the UFC for their women’s bantamweight division.
In what was deemed the "Fight of the Night" by Invicta FC brass, Leslie Smith made a successful drop to flyweight with a unanimous decision win over Jennifer Maia, the judges scoring it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in favour of the American Smith.
If you’ve seen Smith fight before, you now know why people call her the female Nick Diaz, as the Cesar Gracie product absolutely overwhelmed Maia by throwing a high volume of precise strikes, although Maia, to her credit, was able to survive the onslaught.
With the win, Smith earned a title shot against Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if it’s Smith who wears the gold after these two clash later this year.
In the only atomweight bout on the card, former Invicta FC atomweight champion Jessica Penne submitted Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc with a buzzer-beating first-round rear-naked choke as she was able to coax the tapout at 4:57 of Round 1.
The performance won Penne a bonus award for "Submission of the Night" as she moved one step closer to a rematch against Michelle Waterson as she tries to earn back her title.
In a strawweight bout, Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood remained unbeaten in MMA as she won a decision over Norma Center, the judges scoring it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in favor of Calderwood. The win upped Calderwood’s Invicta FC record to 3-0 and the young Muay Thai fighter is now close to getting a title shot at 115 pounds.
While that strawweight bout was without controversy, another fight wasn’t as Mizuki Inoue won a heated decision over Bec Hyatt, the judges all scoring it 29-28 in Inoue’s favour. It appeared as though Hyatt deserved to win the first and third round, but a late takedown by Inoue in the first swayed the judges into giving her the round and the 18-year-old prospect ended up earning the biggest decision of her life, while Hyatt learned to never trust the judges in this sport.
Fortunately for Miriam Nakamoto, she didn’t let her fight go to the judges as she showed that the only way to ensure a victory in this sport is to finish your opponent and she did just that, winning the "Knockout of the Night" award for her brutal knee and punches assault over DudaYankovich, a vicious win that Nakamoto needed only 2:08 to achieve. Look for the bantamweight to be pushed up the ladder quickly because she’s 36-years old and her clock is ticking, although she definitely fights a lot younger than her age would indicate.
And in the opening bout of the main card, Tecia Torres edged out Rose Namajunas in a competitive matchup between two scrappy strawweights who were both looking to stay undefeated in pro MMA. However, at the end of three rounds the judges sided with Torres, who landed the more significant strikes throughout the bout’s 15 minutes and she took home the decision 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
All in all, Invicta FC 6 was once again another fantastic show put on by Shannon Knapp’s all-female promotion. Look for continued greatness in the future as Invicta continues to grow.