Saturday’s Invicta FC 4 will have a headliner whose nickname is “Rowdy.”
No, new UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is not making a guest appearance in the all-female promotion. But Australian fighter Bec Hyatt, who shares the same moniker, stepped in as a late injury replacement this week for Claudia Gadelha and will take on Carla Esparza (8-2) for the organization’s first-ever strawweight title at Memorial Hall in Kansas City.
It is a noteworthy move, especially since it will be the fledgling promotion’s first event since the announcement that the UFC is adding a women’s division for the first time with Rousey as its centrepiece. Clearly Invicta, the first mixed martial arts to feature only women’s fights, will want to put on a good showing and could not afford to lose its title bout at the top.
“Both Bec Hyatt’s and Carla Esparza’s willingness to take on a new opponent in such a high-stakes championship fight is extremely admirable and shows what true warriors are made of — they will fight anyone, anytime anywhere,” Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp said in a press release.
Hyatt (4-1) is also Invicta’s first fighter from Down Under and gets to headline the new card against Esparza (8-2) after Gadelha sustained a broken nose in training.
The 23-year-old had a big 2012. In February she submitted Sarah Morrison with an armbar in the second round of their matchup and went 4-0 overall, including a 37-second stoppage of Christina Nicole Tatnell.
Esparza, 25, is on a three-fight win streak of her own with her last two victories — TKO stoppages of Sarah Schneider and Lynn Alvarez — with Invicta FC.
In another change, unbeaten Matt Lindland-protégé and European Muay Thai Champion Livia von Plettenberg (1-0) of Austria has been brought on board to face undefeated Joanne Calderwood (4-0) of Scotland in another 115-pound contest. Calderwood was Hyatt’s original opponent on the card.
“By the same token, Joanne Calderwood and Liva von Plettenberg should be commended for accepting the bout against each other on such short notice,” Knapp added.
In the night’s co-main event, Canadian and former Strikeforce contender Alexis Davis (12-5) of Port Colborne, Ont., will face bantamweight submission ace Shayna (The Queen of Spades) Baszler (15-7) of Sioux Falls, S.D. Davis was part of one of the best fights on 2012 when she battled fellow Canuck Sarah Kaufman in Strikeforce in March. She lost a majority decision, but rebounded with a submission win over Hitomi Akano in her Invicta debut in July.
Here is a look at the rest of the card:
Power puncher Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith (4-2-1) of Pleasant Hill, Calif. will square off with submission specialist Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (3-2-1) of Colorado Springs, Colo., at bantamweight.
Hard-hitting KO artist Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (7-2) of Salvador Bahia, Brazil will take on submission specialist Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (6-3) of San Jose, Calif., at bantamweight.
JEWELS star Hiroko Yamanaka (12-2) of Kisarazu, Japan will battle Invicta FC 3 winner Ediane Gomes (8-2) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a featherweight contest.
After scoring her second consecutive, five-second KO on July 8, Veronica Rothenhausler (0-0) of Reno, Nev., will make her much-anticipated professional debut on the Invicta FC 4 preliminary card against fellow heavy-handed featherweight competitor Katalina Malungahu (2-1) of Las Vegas.
The seven-bout preliminary card will be capped off with an atomweight (105 pounds) matchup between Stephanie Frausto (4-4) of Cincinnati and Cassie Rodish (3-3) of Des Moines, Iowa.
Unbeaten Tamikka Brents (1-0) of Springfield, Ill., will take on Amanda Bell (0-0) of Medford, Ore., at featherweight.
Jodie Esquibel (2-0) of Albuquerque, N.M., and Liz McCarthy (1-0) of Tigard, Ore., will square off at atomweight.
Emily Kagan (2-0) of Albuquerque, N.M. will put her undefeated record on the line against Rose Namajunas (0-0) of Milwaukee in a strawweight matchup.
Paige Van Zant (2-0) of Sparks, Nev., will face off with Tecia Torres (1-0) of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., at strawweight.
Finally, Laura MarcusseSanko of Kansas City will take on Cassie Robb of Casper, Wyo., in the MMA debut for both ladies.