Photo: Hitomi Akano and Sara McMann, Credit: Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com
This Saturday, Invicta FC returns with its a sophomore event, a card that will change the complexion of the women's bantamweight division. The top three fights of Invicta FC 2 feature six of the top bantamweights in the world.
I've already taken a look at the stellar main event fight between Sara McMann and Shayna Baszler (check it out here). Now I'm going to break down the other two bantamweight bouts that pit Hitomi Akano against Alexis Davis and Liz Carmouche against Kaitlin Young.
Hitomi Akano has the great nickname of "Girlfight Monster", but that nickname is not the only great thing about Akano. Her MMA arsenal also isn't too shabby. Although she is a competent, southpaw striker, what defines Akano's game is her judo throws and grappling technique.
On the ground, Akano has a calm composure about her that lets her think clearly and methodically. That composure has been a catalyst for her slick transitions and submissions (fourteen to be exact).
Her opponent, Alexis Davis, has one of the best all-around packages in the weight class. Davis is a talented grappler and an above average striker. This Davis' first fight since moving camp to California where she trains under the Cesar Gracie banner.
Despite being well-versed as grappler, Davis should keep the fight on the feet where she has a distinct advantage. I wouldn't be shocked if Akano tries for a couple of Harai Goshis (sweeping hip throws), but Davis should be able to avoid being taken down.
Davis is a diverse striker. She has shown confidence in the pocket where she can just stand and bang with the best of them, but she can also fight outside of the pocket where she uses her brutal leg kicks to chop down her opponents and create openings.
There are some holes in Davis' stand-up, but I think it's doubtful that Akano will be able to expose them. If you want to nitpick the striking of Davis, I'd have to point at her striking defense. Davis also telegraphed quite a few of her hook combinations in her last fight against Kaufman.
Ultimately, Hitomi Akano's calm composure may end up being her undoing. Akano is a bit too passive as she lets her opponents control the pace of the bout. If she is able to break that trend then the possibility of her beating Davis will become a reality.
Nevertheless, once the dust clears from the co-main event bout at Invicta FC 2, I foresee Alexis Davis having her hand raised. Davis should be able to out-strike Akano on the feet, but I doubt she will finish the "Girlfight Monster" because Akano has only been finished in her 27 fight career.
Fresh off a fight of the night against Leslie Smith at the debut Invicta event, Kaitlin Young may find herself in another fight of the night against Liz Carmouche. Both fighters have incredible motors and have quite a track record of putting on entertaining fights.
Kaitlin Young one of the better strikers in the division. Although she faced some trouble on the feet against Leslie Smith, Young usually finds herself winning the stand-up battles against her opponents. The key reason for Young's striking success is her jab which opens up her opponents for more powerful combinations.
Liz Carmouche, a former marine, has serious power on the feet, but I suspect she wont want to stand and bang with Young. Carmouche will be giving up a sizable reach advantage to Young which would make that jab that much more effective.
Instead of keeping the fight on the feet, Carmouche will probably look to take down Young and work her over with ground and pound. Young has okay wrestling defense, but I don't think it's good enough to fend of Carmouche's takedowns.
Although Kaitlin Young is one tough fighter, I think Carmouche will be able to finish her with her powerful ground and pound.
The women's bantamweight division will be on full display at Invicta FC 2, and as the night ends there many of the victors of those bout will have serious claims of being on top of that weight class.