Invicta FC 8: Preview and Predictions for the 1st UFC Fight Pass Show
It has seemed like an eternity, but Invicta is back and better than ever. Now equipped with a deal on UFC Fight Pass, the ladies of Invicta are set to bring their brand of fighting to a wider fanbase.
The card is headlined by two title fights. Michelle Waterson defends her atomweight strap against Yasuko Tamada in the headlining bout, while Stephanie Eggink and Katja Kankaanpaa fight for the vacant strawweight title.
There are 10 bouts on the card. Here is a preview and prediction for them all.
J.J. Aldrich vs. Delaney Owen
Kicking things off on the card are the strawweights, as Delaney Owen drops from the 125-pound division to meet pro debutant J.J. Aldrich.
A submission fighter, Owen is 2-0 as a pro with both wins coming by way of tapout. Her go-to move is the rear-naked choke, which she has used once as a pro and three times as an amateur (7-2 amateur record).
Both of her pro bouts have come this year, which shows she has kept busy since leaving the amateur circuit. She hasn't been taking easy fights either, as she has earned wins over Shannon Gunville and Sarah Alpar in her two pro outings.
Aldrich makes her pro debut after tallying a 7-4 amateur record, with her most recent bout coming in May. Her biggest win to date is a submission of now-UFC fighter Kailin Curran, whom she put away with a rear-naked choke.
Like Owen, she is a submission fighter, although Owen is likely the better takedown artist. That said, Aldrich has a good guard and will make it tough for Owen to incorporate her offense.
Seeing as Owen is more experienced and has fought at a higher level, she has a big edge here. Not only that, but her cardio is very solid, which she could use to finish Aldrich late if she's patient.
Prediction: Owen def. Aldrich via submission
Jodie Esquibel vs. Jinh Yu Frey
Moving on, we head to the atomweight division, as YouTube sensation Jinh Yu Frey makes her Invicta debut against Jackson-Winklejohn MMA vet Jodie Esquibel.
Esquibel is a boxer with good kicks, as it's no secret she likes to keep fights upright. Seeing as she trains with great trainers and fighters in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she will be fully prepared for a lady the caliber of Frey.
She has had more trouble against grapplers in the past, though her opponent will likely be more than willing to stand up with her.
Frey is a kickboxer looking to keep her 2-0 record perfect. She turned pro after a 3-2 amateur record but has improved drastically since her amateur days.
After choking out Meghan Wright in her pro debut, she set her sights on veteran Darla Harris, whom she downed with a highlight-reel head kick and punch knockout.
This fight is a great matchup on the feet. Both Esquibel and Frey love to stand in the pocket and unleash hell. Though Esquibel is likely the favorite here, Frey has been impressive to this point as a pro and will continue her unbeaten ways, perhaps hurting Esquibel on the feet and finishing her with a submission.
Prediction: Frey def. Esquibel via submission
Ashley Cummins vs. Alexa Grasso
Next up we have the strawweights, as Mexican prospect Alexa Grasso looks to make a successful move from 125 against tough-as-nails Ashley Cummins.
Thus far, Grasso's striking has been her go-to attribute in the squared circle, as she has earned three of her four pro wins via knockout. Three of her wins came in less than 40 seconds, showing she is aggressive and looks for the finish early and often.
She trains at Lobo Gym with Irene Aldana, another woman who possesses power striking. However, her first fight with Invicta means a big step up from the regional Mexican talent she has been facing.
Cummins comes into this bout with a pro record of 3-2, with a 1-2 record under the Invicta banner. In that time, she has beaten Sofia Bagherdai while falling via knockout to Joanne Calderwood and via controversial decision to Emily Kagan.
The concerning thing for Cummins is that her training camp has been interrupted by the turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, as she is a police officer in the St. Louis area. Her attention has been lured away from training, so her head may not be completely in the game.
That may be the key factor here. While she may be mentally focused and strong, Grasso has been in the gym putting in the work, while Cummins has been securing the streets. That may be vital here.
Prediction: Grasso def. Cummins via decision
Veronica Rothenhausler vs. Charmaine Tweet
Moving on, we head to the first ever Invicta lightweight bout, as rivals Veronica Rothenhausler and Charmaine Tweet look to end their long social media beef.
Rothenhausler is a power puncher who runs with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. There, she works with fighters like Urijah Faber and T.J. Dillashaw at the frat-like gym.
Neither her three amateur bouts nor her only pro bout made it past two minutes. Rothenhausler is extremely aggressive, moving forward and throwing haymakers with reckless abandon. In fact, two of her amateur bouts came by knockout in five seconds.
As for Tweet, she is a jiu-jitsu fighter who owns all five of her wins via submission. She has a very tight squeeze and has finished all of her wins by either guillotine or rear-naked choke.
On the feet, she has improved, although she would be wise to stay out of the wheelhouse of Rothenhausler. Anybody who stands with her runs the chance of getting their lights put out quickly.
Tweet needs to shoot early to avoid a rock-'em, sock'-em affair with Rothenhausler. However, the Team Alpha Male rep is long and rangy and should be able to score a death blow.
Prediction: Rothenhausler def. Tweet via TKO
Peggy Morgan vs. Irene Aldana
The bantamweights are up next, as The Ultimate Fighter 18 and UFC vet Peggy Morgan makes her Invicta debut against top Mexican prospect Irene Aldana.
Morgan is a striker, using her long, lanky frame to keep opponents on the outside. She started her pro career 2-0, before dropping a close decision to Jessamyn Duke in her UFC debut.
She has some skills on the ground as well, though she is far more comfortable from top position. However, I don't expect this fight to hit the mat much, if at all.
Aldana is a striker in her own right, although she uses her kicks and knees far more frequently than Morgan. In fact, of her three knockout wins, two were caused by knees, and her most recent win came by a wheel kick.
She is technical and powerful. All of her wins have come in less than a minute, showing that she works quickly and gets aggressive early.
This should be a fun little scrap. Morgan needs to avoid the clinch game of Aldana and strike from a distance. However, Aldana looks to be a very good prospect and should be able to get past Morgan.
Prediction: Aldana def. Morgan via TKO
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Tara LaRosa
A rubber match is afoot in the next contest, as flyweight legends Roxanne Modafferi and Tara LaRosa will square off in likely their final match against each other.
LaRosa is one of the trail blazers of the sport, as the 36-year-old grappler is 21-4 since 2002. She is predominantly a ground fighter, though in her last outing against Rin Nakai she showed off improved striking.
She has faced seemingly everyone in her career, beating Julie Kedzie, Shayna Baszler and Alexis Davis. As noted, she has fought Modafferi twice already, earning a unanimous-decision win in 2006 but falling via split decision in 2010.
As for Modafferi, fans may be familiar with her as the quirky, fun personality on TUF 18. After beating Valerie Letourneau to get into the house by submission, she was eliminated by Jessica Rakoczy via brutal knockout.
Modafferi is a grappler, though she showed in her UFC debut against Raquel Pennington that she has improved her striking a tad. That should be enough to make this another Fight of the Night contender.
This will be a close, fun fight between two pioneers of the sport. They will leave everything in the cage, and it will result in a memorable, close affair.
Prediction: LaRosa def. Modafferi via decision
Michelle Ould vs. DeAnna Bennett
Next up, two top-10 quality flyweights look to jump back into the rankings, as Michelle Ould returns after a nearly two-year layoff to take on DeAnna Bennett.
Bennett is a wrestler who has greatly rounded out her game since making the move to mixed martial arts. Training out of The Pit Elevated in Utah, you can guarantee that her cardio is top-notch and that she is working out with some tough fighters.
She is undefeated at 4-0 in her pro career. She owns notable victories over TUF 18 vet Colleen Schneider, as well as the winner of that season Julianna Pena.
As for Ould, the well-rounded Team Quest rep looks to get back in the mix of things, as her last fight was in September of 2012. The veteran has notable wins over the likes of Munah Holland, Christina Marks and Jessica Rakoczy.
This will be a fun, back-and-forth fight. Both ladies are comfortable wherever the fight goes, making this one a coin toss. That coin landed on experience.
Prediction: Ould def. Bennett via decision
Ediane Gomes vs. Tonya Evinger
We move on to the bantamweight division, as former No. 2 featherweight Ediane Gomes moves down a weight class to meet TUF 18 vet Tonya Evinger.
Evinger is a wrestler who uses good takedowns and heavy ground-and-pound frequently in her fights. She is also a finisher, as 10 of her 13 career wins have come by way of knockout or submission.
This style was seen frequently in her last fight at Invicta 7, where she put down Sarah D'Alelio and kept her there throughout the fight. It will be a risky proposition against a jiu-jitsu fighter like Gomes, so her continued improvements in the stand-up game may be called upon a little more in this bout.
As for Gomes, she is a physical brute with a high-level ground game. She can muscle opponents to the ground with ease and fish for submissions in bunches.
She is especially known for her armbar, which is how she has finished most of her fights. Her stand-up is still coming along, but her clinch along the fence is another place where she can wear down opponents and beat them up.
This is a very closely matched fight. Evinger and Gomes both have similar attacks and styles that will make this a strategic chess match. In the end, the size advantage for Gomes will be a difference-maker as she grinds out her American counterpart.
Prediction: Gomes def. Evinger via decision
Stephanie Eggink vs. Katja Kankaanpaa
The co-main event is next for the vacant Invicta Strawweight Championship, as Finland's Katja Kankaanpaa looks to earn a major championship against former XFC strawweight champion Stephanie Eggink.
Kankaanpaa is an Invicta veteran with an outstanding record of 9-1-1. The Finnish fighter is known for her ground skills, which have earned her three wins by way of tapout and a ground-and-pound stoppage.
She is extremely tough and has a solid resume to back up her skills. Not only has she defeated UFC fighter Juliana Lima, but she earned a hard-fought decision over TUF 20 contender Aisling Daly in a recent outing.
As for Eggink, the former U.S. national team boxer has nicely rounded out her game in working diligently on her jiu-jitsu. That was on display in her XFC title fight, when she choked out Angela Magana with a nifty triangle choke.
However, as good as her ground game has gotten, it's her technical, precise boxing ability that should be her main focus in this bout. Joanne Calderwood was able to pick off Kankaanpaa on the feet for three rounds, and Eggink should look to do the same.
Both ladies are so solid that this bout is tough to call. On one hand, Eggink is the better striker, while on the other hand, Kankaanpaa is the better grappler. All fights start on the feet, and Eggink has sturdy enough takedown defense to score a decision with her hands.
Prediction: Eggink def. Kankaanpaa via decision
Michelle Waterson vs. Yasuko Tamada
The main event will cap things off, as Invicta atomweight champion Michelle Waterson defends her belt against Japanese import Yasuko Tamada.
Waterson, known as "The Karate Hottie," has long been known for her stand-up prowess. Although that is well-deserved, her underrated ground game earned her the title against Jessica Penne.
She takes on Tamada, a grappler with more than 20 fights on her record. Tamada has yet to be finished in her career, showing she is a tough, versatile fighter.
Tamada is tough, but Waterson is more skilled and well-rounded. On the feet, she will light Tamada up. She will also be able to fend off Tamada's takedown attempts. This should be an easy win for the American.
Prediction: Waterson def. Tamada via decision