After a hiatus forced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Invicta FC is back in our lives. Invicta FC 40 went down last night from inside a mostly empty Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. The first ever Invicta FC event sans fans hosted a strawweight battle as its main event, pitting UFC veteran Juliana Lima versus Emily Ducote.
Ducote would win the fight after a close-fought affair; one of many on the night. Even though Ducote’s victory put her in the hunt for another strawweight title shot, it was a featherweight who really stole the show this night.
Stockton’s Chelsea Chandler, a student of Cesar Gracie, came into the event with a record of 2-1. She lost her Invicta debut to Kerri Kenneson in 2018, but followed that up with wins over Mitzi Merry and Brittney Victoria.
Last night, against the 4-0 Liv Parker, Chandler was lights out from the get-go. She landed heavy punches in the opening seconds, including one to the body that seemed to buckle Paker momentarily. Seconds later Chandler would go upstairs with a big left hand that laid Parker out on her back. Chandler then pounced on her opponent and sunk in the fight ending rear naked choke. Watch out featherweights of Invicta (and possibly beyond). The now 3-1 Chandler looks like she could make some noise in the near future.
Chandler’s was the only finish on the night, but that doesn’t mean the card was wanting for action.
The first fight of night, the 100th strawweight bout in Invicta FC history, was delayed due to a power outrage. However, the extra time waiting in the cage seemed to energize both Genia Goodin and Shelby Koren.
Both women put on a good show, filled with submission attempts, scrambles, and striking exchanges. At one point it looked as though Koren was going to snap Goodin’s arm in two, but Goodin did her best Stretch Armstrong impression and was able to gut it out. The pair went back and forth with Koren mostly cranking submission attempts and Goodin getting the edge in the striking department.
The fight could have gone either way, but all judges awarded the bout to Goodin whose record moved to 2-0. This was Koren’s first pro bout, but she showed she could be a handful for most women on Invicta’s strawweight roster.
After that there was a flyweight bout between the talented wrestler Laura Gallardo and the more well-rounded Trisha Cicero, a top prospect from the ranks of American Top Team. Gallardo had her way with Cicero early on, taking her down with little trouble. However, Gallardo failed to score any meaningful offense on the ground. From that point on Cicero adopted a cautious approach to avoid being taken down and she managed to impress on the feet, catching Gallardo with punches and using good footwork to avoid getting hit herself. By the third Gallardo looked tried and, as a result, Cicero was able to stuff takedowns and cruise to the final bell. The bout ended in a split decision in favour of Cicero, who did just enough on the feet to get a win in her Invicta debut.
The co-main event was a thrilling match-up between ‘Half pint’ Alesha Zappitella and the ‘Damsel’ Lindsey VanZandt.
Both women came out swinging in the first. But it was Zappitella who quickly established the kind of fight we were going to see. She used her speed and reflexes to get VanZandt to the ground, off of a kick attempt from VanZandt, and then got herself into side control. That was a position Zappitella would go to throughout the fight.
In side control Zappitella was able to land elbows, hammerfists, shoulder strikes, and knees to the body. VanZandt struggled to get out of the position for long periods of the fight. When she was able to get to her feet, she used her range to good effect. She landed hard kicks to Zappitella’s body, pulled off a nice spin kick and even seemed to stun her opponent with a hard counter punch in the third.
However, despite Zappitella slowing down in the last round, she was still able to out wrestle VanZandt and get her down to the mat. Zapitella’s takedowns, and busyness on the ground, were enough to convince two of the three judges she deserved the victory. The win moves Zapitella’s record to 7-2 and gives her a two-fight winning streak inside the Invicta octagon.
Ducote won the main event, though it didn’t look like it would go her way in the first round. Neither her or Lima were afraid to throw strikes in the opening round, but it was the Brazilian who looked more cultured in her approach. She was able to step in and land stiff jabs on Ducote and rocked her head back once with a big uppercut. In the clinch, Lima was able to use her Muay Thai background to land stinging knees to Ducote’s body.
Lima looked confident in the second, as she strode forwards to throw heavy hands at her opponent. Ducote was gritty in her response, though, standing in the pocket and landing good counter punches. Towards the end of the round, Ducote really turned the momentum of the fight. She got Lima down and hurt her with a set of hard elbows to the cheek. Those strikes opened up a cut under Lima’s right eye that would bleed throughout the third.
Lima seemed tired in the third round, while Ducote showed she had energy to burn. She hit Lima in the open cage and bullied her in the clinch. Ducote punctuated the round, and the fight, with a big double leg takedown with just a minute left on the clock. By the final bell it was pretty obvious that Ducote had done enough to win rounds two and three and thus the fight. That will go down as the most impressive victory on Ducote’s record. Now 9-6, she’s probably within striking distance at a second shot at the Invicta FC strawweight title.
Check out the full results below, along with video of Chandler’s finish:
Strawweight: Emily Ducote def. Juliana Lima by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Atomweight: Alesha Zappitella def. Lindsay VanZandt by split decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27).
Featherweight: Chelsea Chandler def. Liv Parker by submission (rear naked choke), round 1 (1:05).
Flyweight: Trisha Cicero def. Laura Gallardo via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Strawweight: Genia Goodin def. Shelby Koren via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).