Invicta Fighting Championships will return to "The Sunflower State" this Friday night (July 13, 2013) at Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Kansas.
The preliminary card will be streamed live on InvictaFC.com on fight night, beginning at 7 p.m. ET with the main card beginning at 8 p.m. ET. This will be Invicta's second (official) pay-per-view (PPV) event. Canadian fans will also be able to view the preliminary card action on The Fight Network.
Headlining the main event will be a thrilling featherweight rematch pitting former Strikeforce women's featherweight champion Cris Cyborg against former Strikeforce womens' bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen. Cyborg won the first meeting, but the third round TKO was the longest fight she's had in the last seven years. Coenen enters the bout riding a two fight winning streak including a victory headlining the inaugural Invicta event last April.
Also on tap will be a number one strawweight contender fight between unbeaten grapplers Claudia Gedalho of Brazil (9-0) and Japan's Ayaka Hamasaki (9-0). The winner will face Invicta FC 115 pound champion Carla Esparza, who had to withdraw from the event due to injury.
Our complete main card preview and predictions (part two) are posted below:
145 lb. title: Marloes Coenen (21-5) vs. Cris Cyborg (11-1 1NC)
Coenen has long been considered a staple of the women's featherweight division, hearkening back to when she won the Remix World Cub single night tournament in 2000. "The Golden Girl of Golden Glory" has competed all around the world starting in Japan, then Holland and most recently has competed in the United States where she battled Cyborg for the first time and eventually dropped a weight class to take home the Strikeforce bantamweight title. Since losing her belt, she's made a serious effort to get bigger and stronger for the Cyborg rematch.
Cyborg is without a doubt the scariest woman in mixed martial arts today. She burst onto the scene by obliterating everyone in her path, slicing through their defenses like butter and completely overwhelming every opponent with pure offense and power. She even finished the durable Coenen in a 2010 title defense but then things went awry when she tested positive for steroids following a 16 second drubbing of Hiroki Yamanaka. She returned from suspension and debuted with Invicta, defeating Fiona Muxlow via violent first round TKO.
Coenen is bigger, stronger and more capable of a fighter than the first time these two met, but she still shouldn't stand in front of Cyborg and trade. That's just asking for trouble. Instead, she should work from distance, try to score with some jabs and kicks on the outside and let Cyborg tire herself out with her insane aggression. Cyborg is all about power and she'll do whatever she can to connect against Coenen and finish her quickly because her gas tank looked pretty limited against Muxlow. If Coenen can drag this fight into the later rounds, I can definitely see her taking advantage of the powerful Brazilians conditioning and I actually am in the minority that believes she can pull this off and play spoiler to the Ronda Rousey superfight speculation.
Final Prediction: Marloes Coenen via submission in round four
115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha (9-0) vs. Ayaka Hamasaki (9-0)
Gadelha is a bit of a wildcard. She was supposed to make her Invicta debut fighting for the title earlier this year but couldn't make it to the show and was replaced by Bec Hyatt. She's a competent ground fighter although her strength of competition is lacking. She fought this past May in Brazil, scoring a decision victory to move to 9-0 overall but still lacks that signature win.
Hamasaki actually competed in Invicta already, showcasing excellent wrestling and top control against Lacey Schuckman. More impressively, she still went for the finish when she could have rode out a decision, scoring an armbar with 15 seconds left in the bout. She's been the Jewels 115 pound champion for nearly three years now and has defended the belt three times in Japan, proving herself consistently.
Both women want this fight to go to the ground, and I assume that Gadelha will be a bit more comfortable off of her back due to her Brazilian jiu-jitsu prowess. Hamasaki is very powerful in terms of wrestling, top control, patient ground and pound and she does a great job of wearing down opponents and eventually overwhelming them. I think Gadelha will put up a fight but Hamasaki eventually is too much for her to handle.
Final Prediction: Ayaka Hamasaki via unanimous decision
135 lbs.:P Sarah D'Alelio (7-3) vs. Lauren Taylor (6-0)
D'Alelio made a big impact in the Invicta cage, particularly her incredible finish of veteran Vanessa Porto in her second appearance with the promotion. This earned her a huge fight against Shayna Baszler where she came up short. Undeterred, she returned to the cage and scored another huge victory, this time over UFC bantamweight Amanda Nunes via unanimous decision. She's one of the best women at 135 and is hoping to take that next step to UFC if she can keep it up.
Taylor has an incredible background story dealing with a broken home and serious drug problems up in Alaska but she found an outlet in mixed martial arts and has been absolutely torching her opponents. She took a tremendous step up in competition in her last bout, battling veteran Kaitlin Young and winning the final two rounds to take home a unanimous decision, by far the biggest win of her career. She's still a bit new to the game but has proven she belongs.
Taylor is extremely aggressive and will try to knock D'Alelio's head off on the feet and also try to beat her up on the ground. It will be easier said than done as D'Alelio possesses some very potent wrestling and while she's a bit stiff on the feet, she makes her strikes count once she's on top. D'Alelio is an awkward fighter to prepare for and is going to give Taylor all she can handle, but I've quickly become a believer in the Alaskan transplant.
Final Prediction: Lauren Taylor via unanimous decision
Smith won everyone's hearts in her Invicta debut with her "Fight of the Year" contender against Kaitlin Young. In the rematch, she showcased her huge improvements and finished the veteran in the second round. She continued to evolve, winning a decision against Raquel Pennington which earned her a massive fight against former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman. Smith gave Kaufman all she could handle, nearly finishing her in the second round but despite many thinking she won the bout, she found herself on the losing end of a split decision. Now, she's dropping down to flyweight to test her mettle in a number one contender bout.
Maia hasn't put on the big performances like Smith, fighting at a more workman-like rate in Brazil. She won all the fights she was supposed to in Brazil, primarily via submission, but every time she stepped up in competition against the likes of Sheila Gaff or Vanessa Porto, she came up short. That streak came to an end in her Invicta debut against former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel where she repeatedly backed her opponent into the fence and scored with a pressure-based striking attack to take home a decision. Now, she's potentially fighting for number one contender against Smith.
The big difference here is that Smith is a no-nonsense brawler on the feet and also very capable on the ground. Look for her to really try to turn the pace up a notch as she possesses an unbelievable gas tank and can throw out a high volume striking attack for 15 straight minutes. Maia will likely try to slow her down by clinching, maneuvering her towards the cage or working for takedowns, but I just don't see her forcing Smith to fight her own fight. Smith is too competent all-around and she's getting better every time we see her fight.
Final Prediction: Leslie Smith via TKO in round two
105 lbs.: Jessica Penne (10-2) vs. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (8-6)
Penne is a tremendous athlete, Training out of Reign MMA, she showcased extreme flexibility, powerful ground and pound and a very versatile submission attack in her 12 fight career thus far. She was a bit lost fighting outside her weight class but a drop down to atomweight was exactly what the doctor ordered and she managed to score significant victories over Lisa Ellis and then number one ranked Naho Sugiyama to capture the Invicta 105 pound title. She was unable to defend the belt, losing via fourth round armbar to Michelle Waterson, but she's extremely motivated to come back strong.
Rivera-Calanoc is out to prove she's not just a pretty face. The veteran has had trouble stringing wins together but she possesses a pretty competent wrestling game and is not afraid to take some risks. She participated in perhaps the greatest staredown in MMA history against Felice Herrig, but was not able to capitalize and actually win the fight. She was in control of Amy Davis in her Invicta debut but was surprisingly submitted in the second round. She bounced back by defeating Angelica Chavez via unanimous decision in her most recent performance. She's got the opportunity of a lifetime this weekend.
While Rivera-Calanoc is extremely motivated and keeps good company in upcoming UFC title challenger Miesha Tate, I just don't think she can hang with Penne on a technical level. Penne is absolutely ferocious, capable of utilizing her length to great effect and her use of elbows and ground and pound is fantastic. Look for Penne to try and quickly close the distance, catching Rivera-Calanoc in her web and then wrap her up in something nasty to force a tap.
Final Prediction: Jessica Penne via submission in round one