Invicta starts the year off with a championship doubleheader, as well as a series of bouts to establish some order in the bantamweight and atomweight divisions.
Taneisha Tennant (5-1) has had a great Invicta run, having won the one-night Phoenix Rising tournament in 2020 and remaining unbeaten in the organization. Her lone loss was an understandable one against Danyelle Wolf on Contender Series, which she rebounded from to earn back to back wins. Tennant still runs a steady pace in her fights with her combination striking and use of reach, and she’s continued to show development despite that setback.
That makes this fight against Talita Bernardo (9-4) more interesting, as she’ll have to utilize all her skills both standing and on the ground to outlast the Brazilian grappler. Bernardo has won her last three bouts, two of them by submission. Two of those came against Katharina Lehner and Lucie Pudilova, and she appears to have turned a corner since her exit from the UFC. That’s only adding to the intrigue of what comes closest to a striker vs grappler matchup, even if the description is oversimplifying quite a bit.
Flyweight gold is up for grabs as Kristina Williams (6-3) and Ketlen Souza (12-3) battle it out for the currently vacant 125lb belt. That championship had been vacated last year by Karina Rodriguez, who moved on to join the Bellator roster. What we have now as a result is a great matchup with a lot of questions.
Williams has a strong and varied kicking game, with a heavy sprawl and a tendency to keep moving forward. Souza has won four in a row and has some submission chops, but also some heavy hands to go with that. This could come down to distance management and pace more than anything, and Souza has the tools to do long-term damage up close. Williams has to ensure to keep it at her preferred distance and work takedowns later on in the fight.
Former Bellator title challenger Olga Rubin (7-3) has made a new home for herself in Invicta, where she also challenged Taneisha Tennant for the bantamweight belt back in July. She’s got a pretty well-rounded game that’s focused on pacing herself and controlling rounds. She meets Serena DeJesus (5-2), who has a tighter striking style but hits pretty hard, and can get wild with some flurries when things heat up.
Auttumn Norton (2-1) had a long stretch of inactivity from 2019 to 2022, but made the most of her return to MMA when she defeated Maria Djukic last year. A heavy-handed striker with persistent offense, she’s also physically imposing when pressuring opponents standing or on the ground. Her opponent will be Claire Guthrie (4-1), a former Ultimate Fighter competitor and scrambly, scrappy grappler. She’s capable of landing some hard shots, but her grappling could and should be the difference maker here, especially with her guard game.
Finally, grappling standout Laura Gallardo (4-1) returns to the Invicta cage to meet another lethal grappler in Fatima Kline (2-0). This should be a very fun showcase early on the card.
Full card is as follows:
Taneisha Tennant (134.4) vs. Talita Bernardo (135) - Invicta bantamweight championship
Kristina Williams (124.3) vs. Ketlen Souza (123.6) - Invicta flyweight championship
Serena DeJesus (137.3)** vs. Olga Rubin (136) - Bantamweight
Claire Guthrie (135.9) vs. Auttumn Norton (135.7) - Bantamweight
Marisa Messer-Belenchia (105.6) vs. Elisandra Ferreira (105) - Atomweight
Katie Saull (105.6) vs. Rayanne dos Santos (105.8) - Atomweight
Fatima Kline (115.7) vs. Laura Gallardo (115.3) - Strawweight
Tanya Nijjar (118.1) vs. Sayury Cañon (113.1) - Strawweight
**DeJesus missed weight, fined a portion of her purse as a result.
How to watch
Invicta FC 51: Tennant vs Bernardo takes place this Wednesday night, and will be streamed live and free via their YouTube channel. The event starts at 9:00pm EST, and will also be simulcast via AXS TV in the US and Fight Network in Canada.