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Invicta FC announces one-night tournament, Jimmy Smith to join commentary team

A historic first for the premier all-women’s league, with some familiar faces and dynamic matchup possibilities.

Invicta Fighting Championships held Invicta FC 51 on Wednesday.

Invicta FC continues to push forward with innovation and has another set of surprises in store for their next event. This May, the all-women’s organization will stage a one-night strawweight tournament, featuring a few former UFC fighters to complete a field of eight participants.

The opening round and semifinals will be one five-minute round each, with the finals being a standard three-round affair, five minutes each. The opening round matchups will be selected at random, and with major gains for the winners that move on to the semifinals.

There will be finishing bonuses as well, and the fighter with the fastest finish in the opening round will have the ability to select their next opponent for the semifinals. In the event that none of these fights end up in a finish, the semifinal bouts will be selected at random again, as they were in the opening round. There will also be a non-tournament fight as well as a reserve bout, the participants of which are both still to be announced.

The participants for the tournament are an interesting mix, with some standout athletes in the mix.

  • Sharon Jacobson (5-4) is a former freestyle wrestling champion, and a longtime athlete. She made her Invicta debut in 2015 with a decision win over Delaney Owen after some wild performances on the regional scene. After losing her pro debut to former UFC fighter DeAnna Bennett, she went on a four-fight winning streak that ended with a win over current UFC talent Jamie Moyle. Her last bout was a heartbreaker in which she was arguably winning against Kay Hansen, who managed to secure a very late armbar finish. She’s tough and durable with wild scrambles, great wrestling and very stable control from top position.

  • Janaisa Morandin (10-2) is only 24 years old, but had shown improvement and a lot of upside after making her Invicta debut in 2017. It was a decision loss against current UFC fighter Livia Renata Souza, one where she gave Souza fits and refused to go away. She rebounded with a win over Kinberly Novaes, and earned a title shot against yet another fellow Brazilian, Virna Jandiroba. That ended in an arm-triangle loss for Morandin, who returned to her native Brazil to sharpen up her tools. She loves a firefight and has great cardio to keep her position as an active threat.

  • Danielle Taylor (10-4) was known for being a heavy hitter and turning a fight around quickly in her favor. She’s since shown herself to be a patient and capable striker. Taylor is not a slouch in the submission department, with good defense and serviceable takedown defense. After a controversial win over Seo Hee Ham, she also earned a decision win over Jessica Penne. After two straight losses to JJ Aldrich and Weili Zhang, she bounced back with a decision win over Montserrat Ruiz in December.

  • Sunna Davidsdottir (3-0) had a 3-0 run in the International Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Association with a split decision and three TKOs due to ground strikes. She already came with some seasoning from her four overall amateur wins when she faced Ashley Greenway in her pro debut (also under the Invicta banner) and ended up with two tough decision wins over Mallory Martin and Kelly D’Angelo. Training out of the Mjölnir gym in Iceland, she’s one of the brighter prospects and could possibly be favored to win it all.

  • Kailin Curran (4-6) came into the UFC after a 3-0 run in PXC that included a win over striker Kaiyana Rain and Japanese veteran Emi Tomimatsu. Her UFC run was tumultuous, with close decision losses to Jaime Moyle and Alexandra Albu, as well as another late heartbreaker armbar against Alex Chambers, after controlling in most of the fight. Perhaps the change in scenery and time off will benefit her here.

  • Briana Van Buren (5-2) went 2-0 as an amateur and went 3-1 before making her Invicta debut vs Amy Montenegro. She unfortunately lost that bout, but used her athleticism and increasingly well-rounded game to win two in a row, including a win over Jamie Moyle this past December.

  • MIZUKI (13-5) is the one competitor here with experience over more diverse and dangerous opposition. Experienced in both MMA and shootboxing, she’s taken on established competition such as former Invicta champ (and current RIZIN champ) Ayaka Hamasaki, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso, and holds wins over Emi Tomimatsu, Emi Fujino, Lynn Alvarez, and current bare knuckle champion Bec Rawlings. After a decision loss to champion Virna Jandiroba, she got back to her winning ways by earning a decision win over former UFC talent Viviane Pereira last November. After spending some time with her brother at Serra/Longo in New York, she’s looking to show off some improvements in her game. Her combination striking and wily grappling should conceivably be the favorite in this field.

  • Juliana Lima (9-5) returns to Invicta after her lone bout in the organization, which will be six years by the time the tournament comes around. Her athleticism and strong striking preferences along with sneaky defense and patience may cause some problems for a format that demands urgency as the one in this tournament. Either way, she’s still got wins over Ericka Almeida, JJ Aldrich and Nina Ansaroff, while hanging tough in losses against former Invicta champ Katja Kankaanpaa and former UFC champ Joanna Jędrzejczyk.

Another change has come in the form of their announce team, as former fighters Laura Sanko and Jimmy Smith will now be doing desk duty together. Smith is a veteran of M-1, Bellator and the UFC, and Sanko has been a longtime interviewer with Invicta and the UFC as well.

All in all, there’s plenty of unpredictability to be expected. This tournament isn’t just a deviation from the norm for Invicta, but could be a shot in the arm.

Invicta’s Phoenix Rising event will take place on Friday, May 3rd, live from the Kansas City Memorial Hall. It will be streaming live as usual via UFC Fight Pass.

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