Invicta FC put on their latest show last night at the Police Athletic League gym, aka ‘Fight Church’, in Kansas City, KS. In the main event the Invicta FC atomweight title was on the line in a bout between Ashley ‘Smashely’ Cummins and Alesha ‘Half-pint’ Zappitella. The belt had been vacant since Jinh Yu Frey was signed up by the UFC.
Cummins was competing for the atomweight title for the second time in her career. Her first attempt was a unanimous decision loss to current Frey in February. For Zappitella this was her first Invicta title fight, which she earned off of four straight victories in the promotion (over Jillian DeCoursey, Amber Brown, Kelly D’Angelo and Lindsey VanZandt).
The first round between Cummins and Zappitella featured both fighters feeling each other out for about two minutes, before Cummins took the initiative and landed a hard straight right that stunned Zappitella. Cummins didn’t follow it up, though. And Zappitella was able to regain her composure. Moments later she landed a takedown on Cummins.
In the second Cummins looked to hunt down Zappitella and land another big shot. Zappitella didn’t like backing up, though, and decided to spring forward with superwoman punches. She ate a big counter right in doing so, but was able to establish a clinch. Zappitella would chase Cummins for the rest of the round and catch another good punch to the chops for her troubles.
In the third round Zappitella scored a takedown early on. From there she worked on Cummins right arm, looking to isolate it for a possible kimura. She also his Cummins with elbow strikes to the thigh and jaw. Cummins didn’t offer anything off of her back and finally got to her feet with just 15 seconds left in the round.
In the first of the championship rounds Zappitella again got an early takedown. Cummins responded to the takedown by throwing in a guillotine choke attempt, that was nowhere near tight enough to trouble Zappitella. Cummins’ submission attempt actually allowed Zappitella to manouver for one of her own, a Von Flue choke. After a few seconds Zappitella worked the choke to the point of no return and Cummins was forced to tap out.
Zappitella wheeled away screaming in victory. She then cried as it sunk in that she was now the Invicta FC atomweight champion.
The co-main event for this one pitted Lisa Verzosa vs. Raquel Canuto (née Pa’aluhi). The last time we saw Verzosa she was a bloody mess after putting down an early marker for Fight of the Year opposite Julja Stoliarenko for the the Invicta bantamweight title back in March. Her opponent last night has been in there with the best, but hadn’t been in an MMA fight for three years.
Unfortunately for Canuto, she took a while to get into the fight with Verzosa. In the first two rounds both women looked patient, but Verzosa consistently beat her opponent to the punch—bloodying Canuto in the process. In the third Canuto looked warmed up and she started pouring it on Verzosa, but it was too little too late. Two out of the three judges believed Verzosa did enough to earn a split decision win.
Before that bout former Invicta atomweight champion Herica Tiburcio returned to Invicta action after her own three year hiatus, which she spent becoming a mother. Tiburcio returned as a strawweight, meeting fellow Brazilian Jessica Delboni. And Delboni did not give Tiburcio a warm welcome, she harried her throughout the fight with sharp combos. Even though she looked to take a foot off the gas in the third round (possibly because she knew—thanks to open scoring—that she was ahead on the scorecards), Delboni still did enough to take the unanimous decision over the well-respected vet.
Victoria Leonardo has never been in a boring fight and that trend continued last night. She and Liz Tracy went the distance in a back-and-forth affair with both women landing plenty of strikes on the feet. In the end the judges were left with a difficult decision, but all three sided with Leonardo—who may have won the fight on the strength of a few takedowns.
In the first fight of the night Helen Peralta, who took this fight on 24 hours’ notice, bullied Jennifer Chieng around the cage, landing heavy punches in the clinch on route to a dominant unanimous decision victory. Pretty good for a fighter who said she cut 20 lbs overnight.
Full results below, along with the finishes for Zappitella:
Atomweight title: Alesha Zappitella def. Ashley Cummins via submission (Von Flue choke), Round 4 (1:20).
Bantamweight: Lisa Verzosa def. Raquel Canuto (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Strawweight: Jessica Delboni def. Herica Tiburcio via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Flyweight: Victoria Leonardo def. Liz Tracy by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Catchweight (120 lbs): Helen Peralta def. Jennifer Chieng by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).