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Invicta FC 45: Zappitella vs Delboni 2 fight card preview

Atomweight gold is on the line for Invicta’s first main event of the year.

Alesha Zappitella and Jessica Delboni at the Invicta FC 45 weigh-ins.
Alesha Zappitella and Jessica Delboni at the Invicta FC 45 weigh-ins.
Dave Mandel/Invicta FC

2022 just got here and the opening shot for the year belongs to Invicta FC. After a brief hiatus, they’re back online with a free show that features a title fight and some well-matched participants.

At the top, atomweight champ Alesha Zappitella (9-2) still has her athleticism and wrestling as her main threats, all while making adjustments in her striking defense. While opponent Jessica Delboni (11-3) has already tangled with her once before, she’s hoping her busy time on the grappling circuit can increase her chances of claiming the gold at 105.

Since her decision loss to Zappitella last year, Delboni bounced back massively blazing through the Phoenix Rising tournament. Defeating Marisa Messer-Belenchia and Tabatha-Ann Watkins before earning a decision over Lindsey VanZandt, all in one night? That earned her the #1 spot again and got her here. Their last bout was entertaining, and they’ve both only gotten better since.

Ramona Pascual (5-2) makes her Invicta debut after starting off on the Hong Kong circuit. Mostly a striker, she has shown a knack for being bullied into clinches a bit, but nails strong knees and has good use of mid-range strikes. She’s up against Tennessee’s Shamir Peshewa (2-0pro, 4-5 amateur), a strong athlete that works her wrestling effectively with control and smart strikes on the ground. Pascual’s original opponent Courtney King had to withdraw, so this was booked with relatively short notice and bumped up to a 150lb catchweight.

At bantamweight, “Fearless“ Monica Franco (2-0) meets Hailey Cowan (5-2), a fighter that’s already earned a reputation for violence in her brief fighting career. Heavy hitter Helen Peralta (4-2) makes her return to Invicta as she meets Elise Pone (1-0) who had an impressive pro debut last year in Invicta.

Finally, Canada’s Katie Saull (3-5) was scheduled to fight Tabatha-Ann Watkins but now faces replacement Tamika Jones (1-0pro, 4-2 amateur).

Here’s the brief trailer for the event:

Invicta’s also got their own promo package for the title fight through their Immersed series, and it’s quite good:

And the excellent Megan Anderson breaks down the card in her own preview right here:

Full card is as follows:

Alesha Zappitella (104.8) vs. Jessica Delboni (103.8) – Invicta atomweight title bout

Ramona Pascual (150) vs. Shamir Peshewa (153.4)* – 150lb catchweight

Monica Franco (135.4) vs. Hailey Cowan (135.4) - Bantamweight

Helen Peralta (125.4) vs. Elise Pone (124.8) - Flyweight

Katie Saull (105.9) vs. Tamika Jones (105.3) - Atomweight

Maria Favela (138.4)** vs. Sarah Kleczka (135) - Bantamweight

Invicta 45: Zappitella vs Delboni 2 takes place this Wednesday night starting at 8:00pm EST, streaming live on YouTube.