Invicta FC has a new strawweight champion. In the main event of Invicta FC 38 Kanako Murata was able to outpoint Emily Ducote in a fun fight to become the second Japanese fighter (after Ayaka Hamasaki) to win a title in the promotion. Also on the card, which featured all decisions — rare for an Invicta event, Vanessa Porto won a barn-burner versus Karina Rodriguez.
Friday’s main event, at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS, between Murata and Ducote should have been the co-main, but it was bumped to the main slot after Rodriguez missed weight thus transforming her and Porto’s scheduled flyweight title fight into a three round non-title bout.
In the first round of the strawweight title fight Murata had the edge over Ducote in the clinch and eventually got a takedown (this would be the story of the fight). On the ground Ducote came close to getting an armbar, but gave up on it. After that Murata landed a few heavy elbows. In response, Ducote made it up briefly, but Murata dragged her right back down. Off her back Ducote shot for another armbar and then turned it into a triangle. But the round ended before she could get it locked on.
The second didn’t get going until Murata landed a big double leg takedown, forcing Ducote to the foot of the fence. Once there Murata looked to land punches and elbows, while Ducote tried to throw up submissions with her legs.
In the third Ducote attempted to establish her striking game by landing some hard shots on her opponent. When Murata first went for a takedown, Ducote was able to stand her ground and land a good knee to the body. On a later attempt, Murata did get Ducote down and keep her there until the round ended.
The fourth round was contested mostly on the feet, with Ducote getting the better of the exchanges. She landed two glancing head kicks off of Murata, which had the Japanese fighter looking to take the action to the mat. She landed one takedown, but Ducote was fierce in attacking off her back with short elbows and up-kicks.
In the final round Ducote continued trying to hurt Murata on the feet, which worked on occasion, but she was unable to keep the fight standing. Midway through the round Murata landed yet another takedown and was able to spend precious seconds in top position. On her back Ducote tried for more armbars, but Murata was calm and methodical in working her way out of danger.
Ultimately the judges were given the difficult job of scoring this one and two out of the three gave it to Murata, who enforced the fact that she was the better wrestler in the fight.
By coming in above championship weight Karina Rodriguez threw away the stellar work she did by winning a one-night tournament to earn her shot at Vanessa Porto’s title. However, even though the bout wasn’t a championship fight, it still delivered plenty of entertainment.
In the first round Porto was able to worry Rodriguez with looping punches and get her down to the ground, but not for long. Rodriguez responded with sharp kicks to the body and a few nice jabs. Porto would get four more takedowns in the round, one off of a quasi-belly-to-belly suplex.
At the start of the second round Rodriguez was suffering serious swelling around her left eye. Porto made use of that, landing punches to the head and body on Rodriguez’s left side. Rodriguez was able to fire back in kind, though, stinging the Brazilian with head shots. Rodriguez also landed a clean knee to the jaw of an approaching Porto, which bloodied the champion and seemed to slow her down.
It was anyone’s fight in the third, Rodriguez looked to win it with strikes while Porto opted for takedowns. Rodriguez was able to land some good punches in the early exchanges and defend herself from the depleted Porto’s first takedown attempt. Porto did end up landing a sloppy takedown, but Rodriguez was able to work her way back to the feet and then land a hard left hand. After another Porto takedown, and a scramble, Rodriguez was able to land more hard shots as the round came to an end.
All three judges ruled in favour of Porto [which I found surprising], likely due to her supremacy in the wrestling department. The exciting fight deserved two more rounds. It seems likely Invicta will book a five-round rematch. If that happens, let’s hope Rodriguez can make the weight so that there’s gold on the line.
Before what were originally scheduled to be two title fights, strawweight Mallory Martin showed again why she is a top contender in the division. She overwhelmed a debuting Cynthia Arceo with wrestling and ground-and-pound.
In an instance of a striker prevailing over a grappler, Shanna Young beat out Maiju Suotama on the judges’ scorecards. Their fight was a rematch of the one-round contest they had as part of the Phoenix Rising series.
Elsewhere on the card Lisa Verzosa defeated Kerri Kenneson is an all-out and bloody brawl, Auttumn Norton battered Shaianna Rincon, and Tanesiha Tennant outworked Serena DeJesus in a battle between Invicta newcomers.
Strawweight: Kanako Murata def. Emily Ducote via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46).
Catchweight: Vanessa Porto def. Karina Rodriguez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Strawweight: Mallory Martin def. Cynthia Arceo via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
Flyweight: Shanna Young def. Maiju Suotama via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 28-26).
Bantamweight: Lisa Verzosa def. Kerri Kenneson unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Featherweight: Auttumn Norton def Shaianna Rincon via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26).
Bantamweight: Taneisha Tennant def. Serena DeJesus via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
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