Invicta's 5 fight prelim card features some big names, some interesting prospects, and a lot of fun matchups. The card will be live and streaming online starting at 8 PM Eastern, 5 Pacific. Hopefully, embed gods permitting, you should be able to watch right here on Bloody Elbow. The prelims will be free to viewers, while the main card can be purchased for an iPPV price of $14.95. That's enough of the basics however, I want to get down to talking about the fights. Invicta continues to deliver some of the most fun, action-packed cards in MMA and this looks to be as good as any they've put on.
The 39 year old Holland is a Team Tiger Schulmann fighter and former New York State Golden Gloves boxer, who was most recently seen dropping a unanimous decision to Michelle Ould at Bellator 74. She's a pretty decent combination puncher with good power in her hands and good size for her division. She's not afraid to dig in and strike to the body, but has little offense beyond her boxing and can get pretty defensively open when throwing combinations. In her 5-2 career she has wins over Carina Damm, Kim Couture, and Marianna Kheyfets.
Her opponent, the 28 year old Nina Ansaroff, comes from a Tae Kwon Do background and trains out of MMA Masters alongside Josh Samman and Amanda Nunes. Carrying a 5-3 record into her Invicta debut, she's on a four fight win streak. Two of her early career wins came as split/majority decision losses to current Invicta champs Barb Honchak and Carla Esparza. Somewhat unsurprisingly, she's got a pretty heavy kicking game with a great variety of techniques.
This should make for an exciting fight as I expect both fighters will look to keep the fight standing with Ansaroff looking to stay on the outside and Holland pressing to close the distance. I'm giving Ansaroff the benefit of the doubt here that her decent boxing and much more well rounded striking game can keep the fight at range and frustrate Holland for the majority of the bout.
The prophecy: The peckings of a hungry rooster tell me, Ansaroff by decision.
Bout 2 - Bantamweights: Tonya Evinger vs. Sarah D'Alelio
For those that don't remember, or those that just didn't watch (for shame) Evinger was one of the contestants in the opening round of the most recent season of the Ultimate Fighter. A Hit Squad fighter, out of Matt Hughes' gym, the 32 year old Evinger was a decorated amateur wrestler before moving to MMA in 2006. Now sporting a 11-6 record she is one of the more long lasting figures in women's mma. She has wins over Carina Damm and Julie Kedzie to her name, and almost all of her losses have come to top of the food chain fighters. Despite her long wrestling background, she's something of a skilled generalist in the cage, who is decent at everything but doesn't really standout anywhere and often gets overwhelmed by better athletes.
She'll be facing off against another well known fighter in Sarah D'Alelio. Fighting since 2010, the 32 year old D'Alelio trains out of the Combat Sports academy in California. Much like Evinger, her 7-4 record contains a who's who of WMMA figures. Her biggest wins are over Vanessa Porto and Amanda Nunes, but each of her career losses were to top tier fighters in Ronda Rousey, Julie Kedzie, and Shayna Baszler. D'Alelio has decently technical standup, but tends to fight in spurts. She doesn't transition particularly well, but has a very strong submission game once the fight hits the mat.
If this fight were 5 years ago I'd say flip a coin, it's anyone's contest. But the Tonya Evinger of today is just not a very good fighter. She's scrappy, but seems undersized and can easily get bullied in the cage. D'Alelio may not be one of the top athletes in women's MMA, but I'd say she has everything she needs for this bout.
The prophecy: The spirits of the planchette direct me to, Sarah D'Alelio by Submission.
Bout 3 - Flyweights - Zoila Frausto-Gurgel vs. Vanessa Porto
It wasn't long ago that ZFG was being trumpeted as one of the best female fighters on the planet and not without good reason. However you feel about judging she hung in with (and technically beat) Jessica Penne, Michelle Ould, Jessica Rakoczy, Rosi Sexton, Jessica Aguilar, and Megumi Fujii. But lately the Gorge Gurgel trained fighter has taken several steps back with decisive losses to Jessica Eye and Jennifer Maia. At only 29 and with a still good 12-3 record, she can still turn things around, but she has something to prove in this fight. ZFG is a striker first, with a kick heavy sprawl and brawl style. She tends to keep fights close with inconsistent offensive output and less than stellar boxing. Her inconsistency has gotten her in trouble lately with stronger fighters who can take advantage of her long bouts of inactivity.
Her opponent in this fight will be former Invicta Flyweight title contender Vanessa Porto. Having fought at as high as 145 lbs in her career, the 29 year old Porto is coming directly off her title loss to Barb Honchak at Invicta FC 5. Her career record of 15-6 holds wins over Tara LaRosa, Jennifer Maia, Germaine De Randamie, Hitomi Akano, and Tonya Evinger. As a fighter she's principally a boxer-grappler who closes distance with sharp, powerful strikes and throw or trip opponents to the mat where she can set up an armbar. She's one of the better athletes in wmma, and went a full three rounds against cyborg early in her career, but can get a little stuck in striking mode at times.
Honestly, this is another fight that's made to highlight the holes in ZFG's game. Porto is a really fantastic athlete with very fast hands, great power, and a dynamic submission game. If Frausto-Gurgel tries to keep it standing she'll find herself getting the worst of exchanges and I don't think she has a lot of options on the mat. She's tough though, so I expect she'll go all three rounds.
The prophecy: The distended liver of a sacrificial goat speaks of Vanessa Porto winning by decision.
Bout 4 - Featherweights: Julia Budd vs. Charmaine Tweet
Former Muay Thai competitor and British Colombia Muay Thai Champion Julia Budd is one of the brightest prospects fighting above 135 lbs. At 30 years old, and holding a 5-2 professional record, she has a win over Germaine De Randamie, and her only losses have come to Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes. She trains out of a very small camp in Gibson Kickboxing & Pankration, but surprisingly her MMA game has come to consist largely of powerful takedowns, a grinding clinch, and heavy ground and pound.
Her opponent, Charmaine Tweet, is also a former Ronda Rousey victem. And at 36 years of age she brings a 4-3 record to the cage, which sees her currently on a three fight win streak. She was set to debut for Invicta at their last event, but last minute visa issues forced her off the card. She also hails from a small camp and has a combination of decent, patient muay thai and a controlling grappling game. She seems more than willing to give up top control, but sweeps well and is very good at setting up submission.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Tweet try and make life difficult on Budd from the guard in this fight. And ultiamtely I think that will be her undoing. Her straight up and down stance will play right into Budd's power double and while she's content to work off her back, Budd has a habit of landing fight ending strikes from the top.
The prophecy: A series of sticks shaken from a bamboo tube display that Julia Budd will win via TKO.
At this point, if you're familiar with Invicta, you're familiar with Joanne Calderwood. Training out of the Dinky Ninjas fight team in Scotland, the 26 year old Calderwood is a former Scottish Muay Thai champion sporting a 21-2 kickboxing record. Her MMA record is a still undefeated 7-0 and although she has yet to face notable opposition in her career, her massively varied and lethal striking arsenal has made her one of the most entertaining fighters to watch in all of Women's MMA. She's been working to round out her game with some improved grappling, but is a striker first and foremost.
Her opponent for this bout will be Calderwood's toughest test to date in the also undefeated Katja Kankaanpaa. The 32 year old Kankaanpaa holds an 8-0-1 record with wins over Mei Yamaguchi and Aisling Daly. With a backround in Karate and more recently submission wrestling, Kankaanpaa is a stifling grinding fighter who prefers positional dominance when fighting. She's not particularly strong with her takedowns, but is great at driving the clinch and landing punches and knees until a trip opportunity opens up. Once the fight is on the ground she's incredibly clingy and hard to shake. She will definitely present a big test for Calderwood in terms of her ability to maintain distance and dictate the clinch against a technical grappler.
From some angles this fight is really quite even, from others it's a total blowout. A mediocre striker and finesse grappler facing one of the most dynamic fighters in the division. But I was somewhat underwhelmed by Calderwoods last performance against a very game Rueda-Center. If she waits on Kankaanpaa too much I could see her ending up against the cage and on her back.
The prophecy: The current alignment of the planets foreshadows Joanne Calderwood winning by decision.
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