By Adam Martin
Invicta Fighting Championships stages its sixth event this weekend when the promotion holds Invicta FC 6: Coenen vs. Cyborg at Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Missouri Saturday night.
The event is special because it will mark the first time Invicta has been available on cable and satellite pay-per-view, as previously the promotion offered their events for free and via online pay-per-view.
But Invicta FC founder Shannon Knapp believes it’s time for her organization to make the next step and that’s why she’s taking a risk by slightly upping the cost to watch one of the all-female promotion’s events.
However, after looking up and down at this card's lineup, I believe the suggested retail price of $14.95 to watch this event is an absolute steal if you are a mixed martial arts fan because the event is literally stacked with the best female fighters in the sport from the prelims all the way to the main event.
There are actually 10 fights on the PPV portion of the card, as well as three additional prelims streaming for free beforehand, but for the sake of this preview I'll take a look at what I believe are the four most important fights on the card and give my predictions for them as well.
Cristiane Santos vs. Marloes Coenen
The main event of Invicta FC 6 is a rematch as Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos looks to once again defeat Marloes Coenen, only this time it's not the Strikeforce featherweight belt on the line, it's the first-ever Invicta FC featherweight championship.
The first time these two women fought was back at Strikeforce: Miami in January 2010. The fight took place during the height of Cyborg's reign of terror in Strikeforce and she battered Coenen en route to a third-round TKO victory.
However, since that time Cyborg has actually only fought three times, as she's been sidelined due to both contractual issues and also issues with the athletic commissions as she tested positive for steroids in late 2011.
Cyborg came back from a super long layoff at Invicta FC 5 earlier this year and beat up Fiona Muxlow so bad that it's surprising Invicta was able to find an opponent for her. But Coenen is game and, wanting to avenge her prior loss to Cyborg, she's stepping up here and fighting one of the scariest fighters in the game today.
Although I believe Coenen is an excellent mixed martial artist, I'm not sure what she brings to the table this time around that she didn't when the pair first met. I guess that she does have more experience, and she definitely has a better idea of what Cyborg is all about after having already fought her, but I still don't think it's enough or her to win the rematch.
I believe that Cyborg is going to do what she does best and that's beat the daylights out of her opponents. Although Coenen is extremely tough, this is a five-round fight and it's not going the distance. Look for Cyborg to put a whipping on Coenen and win the fight with a second- or third-round TKO.
Prediction: Cyborg via TKO
Claudia Gadelha vs. Ayaka Hamasaki
With Invicta FC strawweight champion Carla Esparza out with an injury, her opponent Claudia Gadelha won't get the opportunity to fight for the belt just yet and instead she'll have to take out Ayaka Hamasaki to prove she's still the No. 1 contender.
This should be an excellent matchup as both of these women are currently 9-0 and ready to break through to the elite. They're both capable of submissions, as Gadelha has five submission wins on her record and Hamasaki has four, but each can also finish the fight with strikes, making this a very intriguing battle between two fighters who don't want to lose that goose egg on their record.
I can see this fight going either way but I lean ever so slightly to the Nova Uniao-trained Gadelha, who is seven years younger, and I'll take her to win a competitive decision that will prove she's the rightful next opponent for Esparza.
Prediction: Gadelha via decision
Sarah D'Alelio vs. Lauren Taylor
An important women's bantamweight fight is also on tap for Invcita FC 6 as Sarah D'Alelio meets Lauren Taylor in a fight that will likely see the winner get a contract with the UFC.
With both fighters knowing a win this weekend likely gets them their shot in the UFC, I expect a lot of intensity out of these two women and this could end up being the "Fight of the Night" on what should be a card full of great fights.
Although D'Alelio has been inconsistent in Invicta, when she's on she's on as she showed in her win over Amanda Nunes at Invicta FC 4 and she's definitely going to need to be this weekend against the undefeated Taylor, a fighter I am very high on.
I think D'Alelio is a solid mixed martial artist and is nearly UFC calibre but Taylor has the higher ceiling as a prospect. Look for Taylor to get this fight to the ground and finish off D'Alelio with some brutal ground-and-pound and punch her ticket to the UFC.
Prediction: Taylor via TKO
Leslie Smith vs. Jennifer Maia
A title shot against Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak is on the line as Leslie Smith makes her flyweight debut against Jennifer Maia in what has all the makings of a great fight.
If you haven't seen Smith, you've been missing out as the Team Cesar Gracie product is like a female version of Nick Diaz, a fighter whose striking is just as entertaining to watch as is the way she taunts her opponents in the ring. In the women's MMA game, Smith is one of a kind and I wish she was more popular than she is now because I believe she can be a big star in this sport.
"The Peacemaker" was robbed by the judges in her last fight against Sarah Kaufman at Invicta FC 5 but instead of feeling bad for herself while she saw Kaufman sign with the UFC after beating her, she instead decided to make a big career change as she's dropping to 125, where her 5-foot-9 frame will make her possibly the biggest female flyweight on earth.
Maia, on the other hand, is coming off the biggest win of her young career, a decision victory over former Bellator women's champion Zoila Frausto Gurgel. That's a big win on Maia's resume and I expect her to come into this fight with a lot of confidence, but it might not be enough.
I expect this to be a competitive fight but ultimately I do believe Smith is more talented and I believe the judges will get it right this time and award her the decision win.
Prediction: Smith via decision