Invicta Fighting Championships will make its promotional debut this Saturday night (April 28, 2012) at Municipal Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
The entire all-female mixed martial arts (MMA) event will be streamed for free live from the Invicta FC home page on fight night, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
Headlining the main event will be a terrific rematch between former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen and French ground specialist Romy Ruyssen at 145 pounds. Also on the card, former Bellator tournament participants Jessica Penne and Lisa Ellis-Ward will duke it out at 105 pounds, which is their more natural and competitive weight class.
Check out our Invicta Fighting Championships preview and predictions after the jump:
145 lbs.: Marloes Coenen (19-5) vs. Romy Ruyssen (5-1)
This main event is very interesting as Coenen and Ruyssen have actually squared off before. It was a very entertaining back-and-forth bout where Coenen handed Ruyssen the only loss of her career back in 2008. Ruyssen has responded tremendously since that defeat, winning four straight all via first round submission and at just 22 years old, she's one of the best young prospects in the women's game today.
Coenen, of course, went on to challenge Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos for the Strikeforce 145 pound title and after failing, she dropped to 135 to capture the championship from then-undefeated Sarah Kaufman. "The Golden Girl of Golden Glory" defended her strap once but would lose her title to Miesha Tate this past summer. She was then released from Strikeforce during a managerial dispute and has now signed with with Invicta.
Coenen will have a strong striking edge in this bout, but to utilize it, she'll have to keep the bout standing. While she's worked on her wrestling significantly since her last loss to Tate, it's still most likely the weakest part of her game and she's been taken down repeatedly in the past, including her bout against Ruyssen.
Expect to see Coenen try to keep her distance and work some kicks and straight punches at the beginning of each round. If the fight goes to the ground, it'll be Ruyssen on top almost certainly. Coenen is very adept on the canvas as well so Ruyssen can't toy around inside her guard, but instead keep her elbows tight and drop short strikes to stay active and at least win rounds, if not go for the submission if the opportunity presents itself.
Final prediction: Marloes Coenen via TKO in round two
105 lbs.: Jessica Penne (8-1) vs. Lisa Ellis-Ward (14-7)
Both Jessica Penne and Lisa Ellis-Ward were participants in the Bellator season three women's 115 pound tournament. Penne was simply too small for his quarterfinal opponent, Zoila Frausto (now Gurgel) and while Ward would defeat Aisling Daly in the quarterfinals, she would be outmatched by Megumi Fujii in the semis.
Since that loss, Penne has not been the most active, only fighting one more time in 2010, earning a first round submission, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been working. Penne puts in a large amount of time at Reign Training Center with Mark Munoz and the boys so she's one of the gold standards for toughness.
Ward-Ellis got married and has only fought once since the Fujii loss, dropping an entertaining unanimous decision to Jessica Aguilar this past November. I expect Penne to try to utilize her length in the stand-up, where she's developed some respectable technique while Ward will try to get into the pocket and land short punches with her boxing.
On the ground, both women are talented, with Ellis-Ward likely having a wrestling edge but I'll give the submission advantage to Penne. If this fight gets stopped, it will likely be a Penne submission or TKO.
Final Prediction: Jessica Penne via submission in round three
135 lbs.: Liz Carmouche (5-2) vs. Ashleigh Curry (1-0)
Liz Carmouche is an absolute gamer. She stepped up on short notice to challenge Marloes Coenen for the Strikeforce 135 pound title despite only having fought professionally for a year....and she nearly captured the crown. "Girl-Rilla" had trouble dealing with elite opponent Sarah Kaufman in her next fight, but she's taking a breather this time around.
Ashleigh Curry is dangerous, no doubt, with her boxing experience, but it's not nearly as much so as Carmouche is used to. Curry does have knockout power and some solid striking skills, but as long as Carmouche fights smart, the ex-marine should have no problem taking her down and pounding her into oblivion.
Final Prediction: Liz Carmouche via TKO in round one
135 lbs.: Kaitlin Young (6-5) vs. Leslie Smith (5-2)
Both of these ladies are very exciting strikers. Kaitlin Young may be best remembered for her highlight reel knockout of Miesha Tate back in 2007. Don't let her 6-5 record fool you, Young has stepped in there against some of the best and most dangerous women in the world. Her losses are to the likes of Gina Carano, Shana Nelson and Julie Kedzie all in a row. She's recently bounced back with two straight knockouts.
Leslie Smith also has the ability to stop fights with her fists. While she doesn't have the experience of Young, she has stepped into the ring against Brandon Vera's wife, Kerry Vera in Bellator a few years back. Smith is very durable and has never been stopped.
If the fight stays standing, I think Young should take it for sure. Her kickboxing is terrific and she's capable of knockout out opponents with knees, head kicks and punches. If she's put on her back, that's where her problems arise as she's prone to getting TKO'd via ground and pound or submitted. I think she can keep it standing though.
Final Prediction: Kaitlin Young via TKO in round two
115 lbs.: Ashley Cummins (2-0) vs. Sofia Bagherdai (4-1)
This is a very interesting bout featuring Cummins, who's one of the best up-and-coming female fighters at 115 pounds and Bagherdai, a former face of the Fatal Femmes Fighting promotion, who hasn't fought in three and a half years.
To put Bagherdai's time away from fighting into perspective, Cummins has had 10 amateur fights (all of which she won) and her two professional fights in the time since Bagherdai last fought professionally. Ring rust is definitely a potential issue here.
Cummins is very well rounded and she's extremely aggressive. Expect to see her come forward the entire bout whether on the feet or on the ground. She's got solid transitions and good scrambles so if things aren't going her way, she can take it the canvas and work ground strikes or for submissions.
Bagherdai should have a striking edge on the feet and potentially a power advantage overall, but she could be in trouble if she's put on her back. She's got to work extra hard to either keep this fight standing or somehow get in top position on the ground as she has some pretty effective ground and pound. Cage rust could be a serious factor in her performance tomorrow night.
Final Prediction: Ashley Cummins via decision
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will you be checking out the debut of Invicta Fighting Championships this Saturday night? If so, who are you most excited about seeing?