The ladies once again had the day all to themselves last night (Jan. 5, 2013) as the all-female Invicta Fighting Championships held its fourth event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas where once again, a title was on the line.
While the planned pay-per-view did not go as planned, with credit card payments not being processed properly by Ustream, forcing Invicta President Shannon Knapp to jump the gun and remove the paywall, granting free access to all comers and offering a refund to anyone who wanted one, the ladies stepped up and continued to put on a good show for all the fans of the budding promotion.
The main event in particular was very interesting as unheralded Aussie Bec Hyatt stepped up on short notice to fight for the promotion's inaugural strawweight title against top 115 pound wrestler Carla Esparza.
Despite fighting on just eight days notice, Hyatt entered the bout as the better conditioned fighter and was actually having her way with Esparza on the feet. Her problem was she couldn't keep the fight there as the three time All-American wrestler was repeatedly able to take her down and work both ground and pound as well as guard passes and the occasional submission attempt.
The story of the fight was Hyatt's resolve, attacking with heavy right hands whenever the bout would get to its feet and scoring with big shots until being taken down over and over and over again.
While Esparza dominated the first three rounds of the fight with her wrestling, her pace slowed entering the championship rounds and Hyatt capitalized, scoring her best strikes of the fight and making fans and viewers wonder whether she'd be able to pull off the tremendous upset.
It wasn't meant to be, however, as Esparza would continue being able to drag the fight to the ground, although her output dropped and she wasn't able to keep the fight on the ground like she had in the beginning of the bout. With 15 seconds left in the fight, Hyatt threw a huge flurry that put "The Cookie Monster" on her back but she couldn't finish the fight before the final bell rang, granting Esparza the unanimous decision victory and the title.
The night's co-main event saw bantamweights Alexis Davis and Shayna Baszler put on a tremendous showing for the fans as both ladies battled for nearly three full rounds until one went unconscious. Baszler had won the initial match-up in 2010 when Davis took the bout on short notice, but this time, both ladies had a full training camp and plenty of time to prepare.
This time around, Davis was the aggressor, outstriking Baszler on the feet with a heavy right hand and occasional leg kicks and going after "The Queen of Spades" on the ground, nearly catching the veteran with a nasty leg lock at the end of the first round which may have altered the rest of the fight.
Baszler favored her other leg slightly from that point on and Davis never stopped going after her, working punches on the feet and more submissions whenever the fight would go to the ground, nearly securing an armbar in the second. Davis continued attacking in the stand-up, eventually overwhelming Baszler in the third and forcing the veteran to lose her balance backing up. After a series of heavy ground and pound shots, the Canadian pounced on a rear naked choke opportunity and squeezed until Baszler went unconscious, winning via technical submission and avenging that prior loss in emphatic fashion.
In another of the most entertaining bouts of the evening, Leslie Smith and Raquel Pennington put forth a spirited display for three full rounds in a battle between Pennington's superior wrestling and one-punch power and Smith's conditioning, pace and overall technical punching prowess.
Pennington started strong, scoring with heavy strikes on the feet and outworking Smith in the clinch and on the ground as her vocal fanbase cheered her on, but Smith persevered, surviving a first round wardrobe malfunction and coming back with superior output of punches in both the second and third rounds as Pennington's pace slowed.
Smith added fuel to the grudge match's flames by repeatedly walking back to the center of the cage whenever Pennington tried to maneuver the bout towards the fence and raising her hands in a taunting manner, trying to egg Pennington on and get her to open up on the feet. Her strategy paid off as she was able to outland Pennington in the final two rounds to take home a unanimous decision.
The final bantamweight main card fight saw Strikeforce veterans Sarah D'Alelio and Amanda Nunes battle for supremacy. Nunes entered the bout with some hype following a showcase of serious punching power and some aggressive jiu-jitsu skills, but the story of the fight was D'Alelio's wrestling, repeatedly taking Nunes down and keeping the Brazilian on her back.
Nunes was never able to get anything going on the feet as the second she opened up her offense, she was dumped on the ground where she couldn't attack nearly as well. D'Alelio was able to neutralize her opponent's striking with her wrestling and took home a less-than-thrilling but still one-sided unanimous decision.
In featherweight action, American Top Team's Ediene Gomes took on former Strikeforce 145 pound title challenger Hiroko Yamanaka. Gomes dominated the early portions of the contest, aggressively stalking down Yamanaka on the feet and blasting her on the ground with some heavy strikes while attempting to finish the bout with her Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Yamanaka hung in there, weathering the storm on the ground, but was unable to get anything going on the feet as she just lacked conviction in her striking while Gomes aggressively pressed forward and threw heavy punches.
Gomes finally started slowing down in the third round, which saw Yamanaka begin to loosen up on the feet and work some combinations as well as the occasional power shot, but it was too little too late for the lanky Japanese fighter as Gomes had already won the first two rounds and the Brazilian would take home the unanimous decision.
Lastly, in the opening bout of the evening, rising Scottish star Joanne Calderwood laid an absolute beatdown on short notice replacement Livia Von Plettenberg. Von Plettenberg hung around in the first two rounds, grinding the fight to a halt on occasion against the scary striker by keeping the bout in the clinch and attempting to get it to the ground, but as the fight wore on and she slowed down, Calderwood was able to really get her offense in.
With the bout's outcome not in jeopardy, Calderwood threw everything but the kitchen sink at Von Plettenberg in the final round, destroying her opponent with elbows, punches, front kicks, head kicks, push kicks and knees, but the Team Quest fighter refused to go down. When the scores were announced, Calderwood easily took home a unanimous decision.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed by any of the ladies on the main card last night? What did you think of Shannon Knapp's decision to forgo the pay-per-view after problems arose during the airing of the preliminary card?