For those already familiar with the Invicta brand, and women's MMA in general many of the names on this weekend's card will be familiar. Cris Cyborg, Marloes Coenen, Ayaka Hamisaki, and even young rising fighters like Joanne Calderwood and Rose Namajunas are familiar names to WMMA aficionados. But I want to take a closer look at two promotional newcomers to watch.
At first glance, Claudia Gadelha seems ill placed in the co-main event. At only 24 years of age, and with an unblemished, but largely un-challenged 9-0 record she has proved little to be amongst the event headliners. What lies unspoken (at least until Tom brought it up) is her camp, and the ability and promise that comes with it. Gadelha is a Nova Uniao product and a BJJ black belt under Jair Lourenco, with an incredibly polished top control Jiu Jitsu game. In fact, she is the youngest black belt in the history of Nova Uniao and was expected to be a major tournament competitor before a problem with a vein in one of her legs forced her out of competition for a year. She's since gotten back to full strength and while only 5' 3" appears to be made mostly of muscles.
She's not a power striker, in what may be her only significant flaw, but watching her most recent fight (an unassuming unanimous decision victory over Herica Tiburcio) she's got sneaky good hands. She punches well, moves well, and has really decent striking defense. Coupled with her grappling ability and tenacity it gives her a fantastic ability to punch her way into the clinch for grinding fence control. There's room for improvement, mostly in increasing her cardio and polishing her entries into the clinch (she get's a little repetitive on the left/right combinations). But I expect her to put on an incredibly impressive showing against Hamasaki win or lose.
Here's an interview from her before her fight against Valerie Letournou last year:
Facing off against well regarded strawweight Bec Hyatt will be promotional newcomer Mizuki Inoue from Nagoya Japan. At only 18 years old and with a background in Karate and kickboxing Inoue has more untapped potential than practically any other fighter in the world. Training out of the Hakushinkai Karate Dojo in Japan, she brings an a record of 5-1 to her Invicta debut. But that only loss, a decision to co-main fighter and longtime WMMA staple Ayaka Hamasaki, is more telling of her great potential than her limitations.
As previously mentioned she enters her MMA career with a history in Kickboxing and Karate. She sports an 8-2 record in the ring and has lightning fast hands and great combinations. What makes her notable in MMA is that every single one of her victories have come via submission. She'll be the first to tell you that much of that combination wasn't the worlds best, but it's still a rare combination of skills in a young fighter. Bec Hyatt will be a stiff test, but not one she should be unprepared for, and may be one of the most exciting fights of the night.
Here's a brief highlight, and I also strongly recommend checking out her Road to Invicta FC 6 video if you haven't already.
Just to give one last brief glimpse at another debuting fighter, Duda Yankovich will be making her Invicta FC debut against Miriam Nakamoto. It's hard to call either fighter a "prospect" in the traditional sense as they're both 36, but as two of the last decades winningest female combat athletes it's hard not to be excited by the prospect of watching them face off in the cage. Yankovich was a decorated kickboxing champion when she started on a boxing career in 2005. She went on to a record of 11-4 with a WIBA world title capture along the way. Nakamoto, for her part, captured a WCK Muay Thai championship just last year, and has already derailed young prospect Jessamyn Duke at Invicta FC 5 (although the bout would be overturned due to an illegal knee).
Invicta continues to do an incredible job bringing in new talent and fresh faces as they develop and these fighters, while not the headliners, provide another of the many reasons to watch. Invicta FC 6 kicks off tomorrow night at 6:00 Central, 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific and will broadcast live on Ustream and Direct TV PPV.