When Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight champion Brianna Van Buren vacated her title in June to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s leading all-female mixed martial arts promotion didn’t waste time in setting up a fight for said title.
On Friday night in the main event of Invicta FC 38 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, Emily Ducote and Japan’s Kanako Murata took center stage and duked it out for the vacant strap. The matchup was the perfect pairing of wrestler versus grappler and it was a matter whose gameplan was better. Murata seemed a bit overwhelmed on the feet as Ducote landed dozens of clean jabs and counter lefts, but Murata was always right there for the takedown.
Murata (11-2) took the Oklahoma City fighter down repeatedly, but she was never able to do anything with them. “Gordinha” threw up armbar attempts off her back nearly every time Murata took her off her feet, and though a few were deep, Ducote (8-6) never finished her.
The two played the chess match for five full rounds and it was simply a matter of which approach the judges preferred. Murata’s powerful takedowns offset Ducote’s better striking, but Ducote continuously attacked with submission attempts off her back, while Murata didn’t do much once on the ground. When the dust settled, two judges favored Murata’s repeated takedowns and scored for her 48-47 and 49-46, while the third official had it 48-47 for Ducote, allowing Murata to capture the title via split decision.
When Karina Rodriguez (8-4) missed weight on Thursday, her chances of capturing the Invicta FC flyweight title went out the proverbial window. Thankfully for MMA fans, reigning champion Vanessa Porto decided to still fight the Mexican and the result was three rounds of terrific action in the non-title co-main event. Both women tore into each other on their feet and their faces displayed the punishment: Rodriguez’s left eye was swollen shut and Porto’s right eye was nearly closed and blood streamed from her nose. While both women landed their fair share of powerful punches, it was the Brazilian’s powerful takedowns that were the difference. Porto (22-8) took her foe down in every round and dished out ground-and-pound from on top. In the end, all three judges favored Porto’s takedowns to offset the even striking and awarded her the victory via unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 across the board.
Cynthia Arceo came into her strawweight bout with Mallory Martin with sizeable hype, but Martin wasn’t fazed by it. Arceo (5-2-1), a 25-time karate champion, was expected to out-strike Martin throughout their contest, but Martin used takedowns and a strong jiu-jitsu base to dominate her. Martin (6-2) scored takedowns in every round and proceeded to unloaded elbows and punches from on top. Arceo suffered cuts on her face and Martin, who said, “I wanted her blood all over me” after her victory, won handily via tallies of 30-26 (twice) and 30-27.
Shanna Young toppled Finland’s Maiju Suotama back in September in the Invicta FC’s Phoenix Rising tournament and tonight’s outcome was no different. “The Shanimal” used her powerful wrestling game to offset Suotama’s jiu-jitsu skills and when they were on their feet, the American was the better fighter. Young (7-2) rocked “Mountain Mama” with punches and when Suotama missed a takedown in the third, Young battered her from on top with elbows and punches. Suotama (8-5) never got things going after she nearly sunk in a rear-naked choke in the first and the judges agreed: Young won a unanimous verdict with scores of 29-27, 28-27 and 28-26.
Lisa Verzosa lived up to her “Battle Angel” nickname as she beat up Kerri Kenneson for three rounds, though it wasn’t a walk in the park. Kenneson (3-2) did well in the first frame of their bantamweight contest, landing powerful punches, but Verzosa rallied in the second and then dominated the third. Verzosa (5-0) rocked Kenneson with a barrage of punches early in the third and then again late in the stanza. By the time the horn ended the battle, Kenneson’s face was busted up and bloody, an indicator that Verzosa had won. All three judges favored Verzosa with scores of 29-28.
After losing her pro debut in the summer, Auttumn Norton came back hard to dominate Shaianna Rincon for three rounds. Norton (1-1) landed several thudding hooks to the head and body throughout their featherweight duel, and whenever she took “Yaya” down, she did virtually whatever she wanted. Norton delivered dozens of elbows from on top and though she never finished Rincon (2-1), she won the bout handily. All three cageside officials favored “The Natural” with scores of 30-26, giving her the unanimous decision win.
In a matchup between young unbeaten bantamweights, it was Taneisha Tennant who prevailed after three rounds of grueling action. “Triple Threat” used jabs and deft footwork to offset the aggressive attacks of Serena DeJesus and clocked her multiple times with hard rights to the head. However, DeJesus (1-1) hurt Tennant in the second with a volley of punches to the head and turned the tide of the fight briefly. Tennant (2-0) returned the favor in the third had a better overall striking attack in said round, which allowed her to win a unanimous nod via tallies of 29-28 across the board.