There was no quit in Michelle Waterson, and it paid off with an Invicta Fighting Championship title.
Waterson upset atomweight champion Jessica Penne in the main event of Invicta FC 5 on Friday, getting a seemingly out-of-nowhere armbar for the finish in the fourth – just one round after nearly being finished with an armbar herself.
Invicta FC 5 took place at Ameristar Hotel and Casino in Kansas City, Mo. The 13-fight event streamed via online pay-per-view at InvictaFC.com.
Waterson worked early kicks, but Penne pinned her against the fence. As the two scrambled, Penne jumped guard and went to her back. Penne went for an armbar, and in the process of defending, Waterson had to give up top position and went to her back. Waterson looked for an arm there, and then went after an omoplata.
But Penne scrambled out of danger – for the time being. As Penne tried to get to side control, Waterson went after the arm again – but instead ate some ground and pound as the first round came to a close.
Penne looked for a leg lock a minute into the second, but then bailed out of it. Waterson took top position and then got to full mount on the champion. But Penne survived without taking much damage.
Penne went to work in the third, getting some good ground and pound in. And Waterson spent most of the third in complete danger.
With 80 seconds left, Penne latched on to an armbar, and she torqued it tightly. But Waterson refused to tap, and moments later reversed to wind up on top. She couldn’t do much there, though, and Penne shortly thereafter was back on top to close the round.
As the fourth round marched on, both fighters appeared to be slowing down just a bit. And they scrambled on the ground, looking for position. But almost out of nowhere, Waterson went after an armbar midway through the round. She got it, it was tight, and Penne had to tap.
“You just can’t quit,” Waterson said after getting the 105-pound belt. “Even when you feel like you can’t go on. She’s an awesome fighter, but this is a dream come true. You just really have to believe in yourself and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Through my whole training camp, I had to tell myself I could go with her. And she pushed back, and it was a good fight.”
Waterson (11-3), a Jackson’s MMA fighter, won for the fifth straight time. Penne (10-2) had a three-fight win streak snapped and was stopped for the first time in her career.
Honchak outboxes Porto to win first Invicta flyweight title
It wasn’t the most exciting affair of the night, but for Barb Honchak, it got the job done.
Honchak stood and kickboxed with Vanessa Porto for five mostly conservative rounds and took a unanimous decision to become Invicta’s first flyweight champion.
The two started slowly, feeling each other out tentatively for the first five minutes. That mostly was the hallmark of the fight. When the scores were read, Honchak had a unanimous nod with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47.
The second round started very much the same as the first, with each woman boxing and looking for an edge. Porto did well with some outside leg kicks, and Honchak excelled countering off those kicks. Honchak landed a good leg kick of her own, and moments later she put together her best combination of the fight.
As the fight dragged on, neither fighter appeared to take any kind of definitive advantage. Porto got a takedown midway through the fifth, but she let Honchak quickly back to her feet. Honchak looked for a takedown with 30 seconds left, perhaps wanting to seal the deal on the round if she thought the fight was close – and one judge believed it was.
“I feel awesome,” Honchak said after getting Invicta’s first 125-pound title strapped around her waist. “Props to Vanessa – she was an amazing opponent for this title. I came to fight Vanessa, and I knew she was tough in the standup and tough on the ground. I was prepared to go wherever, but we kept it all on the feet.”
Honchak (8-2) won for the seventh straight time. Porto (15-6) now has dropped two of her past three, all under the Invicta banner.
“Cyborg” makes easy work of Muxlow in return
It went down pretty much the way everyone expected. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos is back and now booked for another title fight.
Santos, the former Strikeforce featherweight champion, fought for the first time since a yearlong suspension and stopped Fiona Muxlow with relative ease in the first round.
Santos came forward right away, unleashing big fists. Muxlow survived the opening barrage, but on her back, Muxlow took more damage. Muxlow went after a single leg, but she couldn’t hold on.
Santos kept coming forward, and she continued to bloody Muxlow up. It was all survival mode for Muxlow. She couldn’t bring any real offense to the table and spent the entire time playing defense and taking punishment until mercifully, John McCarthy stepped in to stop it with Muxlow’s face bloody and her dazed against the fence.
The win advances Santos to an Invicta featherweight title fight against fellow former Strikeforce champ Marloes Coenen, likely at Invicta FC 6 this summer.
“I’m very happy to come back and I want to fight again soon,” Santos said. “(Coenen is) a very good fighter, and we’re going to have a good fight.”
Santos (11-1) still has not lost since the first fight of her career, and only two of her wins have gone the distance. Muxlow (6-3) now has lost two straight after a submission setback against Coenen for DREAM in December.
Kaufman beats Smith with controversial split decision
The fans made their opinion known right after Joe Martinez read the result. They thought Leslie Smith beat Sarah Kaufman. One judge agreed.
But the other two were all Kaufman needed to pick up a split decision win in her Invicta debut.
Smith kicked high early, and the two then traded kicks until they clinched up and traded some heavy hands in a flurry. Kaufman tried to pin Smith on the cage, and then finally broke off. The two kept things close through the first round, but Smith worked several left high kicks that were close, and those became the hallmark of the fight for her.
The two tied up a minute into the second and traded knees. But soon after, Smith landed a left head kick and dropped Kaufman, and it appeared Kaufman might be done. But she kept Smith at bay as Smith dove in to land ground and pound. Kaufman worked back to her feet, but it was Smith with the kicks again unloading.
Both ran to the center to start the third and the action continued at the same torrid pace as the first two frames. With three minutes left, Kaufman shot for a double and took the fight to the floor. Smith kicked her way out, then kept coming with the head kicks, and those seemed to make the difference. As the fight came to a close, both fighters had giant smiles on their faces to congratulate each other for the fight.
“I knew Leslie was going to be a really tough opponent coming in,” Kaufman said. “She came in, gave a great performance, and it was an exciting fight for the fans.”
Kaufman (16-2) is back in the win column after her loss to Ronda Rousey this past August. Smith (5-3-1) had a two-fight win streak snapped with the controversial loss.
Invicta FC 5 results:
- Michelle Waterson def. Jessica Penne via submission (armbar) – Round 4, 2:31 – to win atomweight title
- Barb Honchak def. Vanessa Porto via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 48-47) – to win inaugural flyweight title
- Cristiane Santos def. Fiona Muxlow vs. TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 3:46
- Sarah Kaufman def. Leslie Smith via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Jennifer Maia def. Zoila Frausto Gurgel via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Lauren Taylor def. Kaitlin Young via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julia Budd def. Mollie Estes via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 1:04
- Bec Hyatt def. Jasminka Cive via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 3:30
- Simona Soukupova def. Cassie Rodish via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 3:20
- Miriam Nakamoto def. Jessamyn Duke via KO (knee) – Round 1, 2:20
- Katja Kankaanpaa def. Juliana Carnerio Lima via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Rose Namajunas def. Katrina Catron via submission (flying armbar) – Round 1, 0:12
- Alexandra Chambers def. Jodie Esquibel via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 1:35
For more on Invicta FC 5, stay tuned to the MMA Events section of the site.
(Pictured: Michelle Waterson)