When the Invicta FC 6 card was announced it was obvious to anyone following the WMMA that it was stacked. Nestled among the card's many great fights was a matchup between two of the sport's hottest prospects, undefeated grappler Claudia Gadelha and striking sensation Joanne Calderwood.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case, injuries have created change. Carla Esparza was set to face Ayaka Hamasaki in defense of her strawweight title. The two had originally been scheduled to fight for the title at Invicta FC 4, before an injury to Hamasaki pulled her from the card. Now the tables have turned and it's Esparza who has been forced off the card with a knee injury. If this all seems a bit beside the point I promise there's a tie in.
Stepping in for Esparza will be Claudia Gadelha. Gadelha was originally set to replace Hamasaki against Esparza at Invicta FC 4, before a broken nose suffered in training saw her pulled from the card as well. At 9-0 she is a somewhat unheralded star in the making, and a fighter Invicta has been looking to push for some time.
And thus we find Joanne Calderwood. Initially without an opponent, she was matched up with journeyman strawweight Sarah Schneider, who most recently lost to Carla Esparza at Invicta FC 2. While not blessed with the most impressive of resumes at 6-6, Schneider has fought her entire career against the best women fighters in the sport, including Megumi Fujii, Julie Kedzie and Sarah Kaufmann. She would have been a solid step up in competition for the still green Calderwood.
I say "would have," because now, she too has withdrawn from the card due to injury and will be replaced by Norma Rueda Center. Rueda Center is undefeated at 2-0, but this will be a huge leap in competition for her. It's too bad because she looks like a decent prospect and Calderwood should be the fighter getting the step up, but such are the wages of fight sports. Hopefully the fight proves competitive, but it's hard to see Center not getting steamrolled here.
If we're lucky the switches are complete. Here's the current Invicta FC card, set to take place on July 13 and airing live on PPV and streaming at 7pm ET:
MAIN CARD (PPV)
Marloes Coenen vs. Cris Cyborg - (featherweight title fight)
Claudia Gadelha vs. Ayaka Hamasaki
Sarah D'Alelio vs. Lauren Taylor
Jennifer Maia vs. Leslie Smith
Jessica Penne vs. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc
Joanne Calderwood vs. Norma Rueda Center
Julia Budd vs. Ediane Gomes
Bec Hyatt vs. Mizuki Inoue
Miriam Nakamoto vs. Duda Yankovich
Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres
Prelim. Card (Ustream)