The ladies once again had the day all to themselves last night (July 13, 2013) as the all-female Invicta Fighting Championships promotion held its sixth event at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, where a featherweight champion was crowned as well as two number one contenders.
The main event of the evening featured a rematch over three years in the making as former Strikeforce featherweight champ Cris Cyborg took on former Strikeforce bantamweight titleholder Marloes Coenen for the inaugural Invicta Featherweight championship.
Coenen had lasted longer against Cyborg than any women in the past seven years in their original meeting before succumbing to strikes, and she entered this bout bigger, stronger and more motivated than ever.
But it still wasn't enough to handle the powerful Brazilian.
Cyborg made her presence known immediately, pummeling "Rumina" with powerful combinations and slamming her to the canvas like a rag doll. Time and time again, Coenen's attempts to clinch or get aggressive were countered with vicious slams and ground and pound.
The first three rounds were a clinic of ground strikes, elbows, combinations on the feet and powerful takedowns. Coenen tried her best to hang with the unstoppable force that is Cris Cyborg but even when she connected cleanly with an illegal up kick, it didn't seem to faze the motivated former champ.
Finally, in the fourth round, Cyborg dropped Coenen with a nasty right hook and then laid into her with a huge volume of strikes on the ground. After giving her a couple minutes to defend herself, referee John McCarthy had seen enough and mercifully put a halt to the proceedings.
Cris Cyborg is a champion once more.
In strawweight action, a pair of the to 115-pounders in the world vied for the number one contender position as Jewels champion Ayaka Hamasaki took on talented Brazilian Claudia Gadelha in the co-main event. While Hamasaki was known for her grappling but Gadelha completely dominated her with takedowns and top control, although she got a bit too aggressive, losing a point with an illegal knee in the final second of the first round.
As the fight wore on, Gadelha continued to control Hamasaki with takedowns, ground and pound, guard passing and submission attempts, nearly finishing the fight with an arm triangle at the end of the second frame. Gadelha's efforts finally bore fruit in the third round as she poured it on with her ground and pound, eventually overwhelming Hamasaki from full mount and forcing the referee to intervene.
Gadelha will challenge champion Carla Esparza whenever Esparza's knee is medically cleared for action.
A flyweight number one contender was also crowned as top established flyweight Jennifer Maia battled debuting 125-pounder Leslie Smith in a bout which ended up earning both ladies a "Fight of the Night" bonus.
From the opening bell, Smith pressed forward with her vintage onslaught of punches, kicks and overall combinations. From start to finish, she forced wild exchanges with a seriously high volume of strikes and to Maia's credit, the Brazilian held her ground on the feet, firing right back.
Despite Maia's ground skills, Smith showed no fear of going to the canvas with her, attempting a few armbars and even a leg lock on the Brazilian and unloading ground and pound whenever she was able to secure top position. In case there was any doubt about the fight, Smith postured up and dropped heavy strikes from above to close out the bout, helping her take home a very entertaining unanimous decision.
Next up for Smith will be a title shot against Invicta Flyweight Champion Barb Honchak.
In atomweight action, former champion Jessica Penne survived some early pressure from Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc to score a "Submission of the Night." Both ladies worked on the feet early on, with Calanoc actually getting the better of the exchanges, scoring with a sharp left hook while controlling the cage center.
But everything changed once Penne shot in for a takedown, eventually passing to full mount and taking Calanoc's back with a tight body triangle. She sunk in a rear naked choke in the final 10 seconds and forced a tap with just three seconds remaining in the round.
Penne asked for a title shot in the post-fight press conference but it's not guaranteed.