The Ultimate Fighting Championship staged its second female fight on April 13, and the women once again stole the show.
Bantamweight rising star “Alpha” Cat Zingano rallied to defeat former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate in a main-card matchup at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in Las Vegas. She now moves on to coach opposite UFC women’s bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey on “TUF 18? later this year.
Zingano (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) had to work from her back after Tate (13-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) took her down early in Round 1. She scrambled back to her feet and both women attempted guillotine chokes. Tate displayed improved striking skills and landed hard punches that set up another takedown. Zingano swept into top position, but she could not keep Tate down for long. The fighters traded more big punches on the feet and Zingano landed a knee, but Tate took her back down and she clearly won the action-packed opening round.
Tate scored another takedown in Round 2 and landed punches and elbows from the top. She tried to trap Zingano in an armbar, but the cage got in her way. Zingano took top position and Tate countered with a heel hook attempt. Zingano punched her way free and she closed out the round strong with more punches and elbows.
It was Zingano who got the early takedown in Round 3 and used it to set up a move to mount. Tate scrambled to her knees, but Zingano muscled her back down to the ground and bloodied Tate’s nose with punches. Tate stood and Zingano rocked her with a knee. Zingano stuffed a takedown and landed three more knees and a standing elbow. Tate fell forward and referee Kim Winslow intervened to stop the bout at the 2:55 mark of Round 3.
Zingano’s impressive victory earned her a shot at Rousey’s UFC title, but the unbeaten fighters first will serve as opposing coaches on “TUF 18,” which begins filming this summer and will debut on FOX Sports 1 on Sept. 4, moving to Wednesday nights from its previous Tuesday night home on FX. For the first time in the show’s history, both male and female bantamweights will compete for UFC contracts. Zingano and Rousey are expected to face each other in December.
For their spirited efforts, both Zingano and Tate took home an additional $50,000 in “Fight of the Night” bonus money.
Invicta FC 6 announced for July 13 in Kansas City with two title bouts
Invicta Fighting Championships brings another stacked fight card to Kansas City, Mo., on July 13. Invicta FC 6 is headlined by a rematch between former Strikeforce rivals Marloes Coenen and Cristiane Santos for the inaugural Invicta FC featherweight title. In the co-main event, Invicta FC strawweight champion Carla Esparza puts her belt on the line against undefeated Jewels titleholder Ayaka Hamasaki.
Coenen (21-5) and Santos (11-1) first faced off for the Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship in January 2010. Santos retained the title with a third-round TKO victory and held on to the belt until December 2011, when she was fined and suspended for one year after testing positive for stanozolol metabolites.
On April 5, Santos made a successful return to action by stopping Fiona Muxlow at Invicta FC 5. Coenen’s most recent victory also came against Muxlow, whom she submitted at DREAM.18 on New Year’s Eve. Coenen has won four of five fights since the loss to Santos. She looks to avenge the past defeat by becoming the first Invicta FC champion at 145 pounds in July.
Esparza (9-2) captured the Invicta FC strawweight championship in January by defeating late replacement opponent Bec Hyatt at Invicta FC 4. She has won six of her past seven fights and sports a perfect 3-0 record inside the Invicta FC cage. Esparza was originally in talks to face Hamasaki (9-0) in January, but the Japanese standout withdrew from the card in order to defend her Jewels lightweight queen championship in her home country. Hamasaki has finished five opponents to date, including Lacey Schuckman, whom she defeated in her North American debut at Invicta FC 2.
In a bantamweight contender’s bout on the Invicta FC 6 card, Sarah D’Alelio (7-3) battles rising star Lauren Taylor (6-0), who picked up a big victory earlier this month. D’Alelio earned wins in three of her first four bouts for Invicta FC and she is currently one of the promotion’s top talents at 135 pounds. Taylor stepped in on short notice to face Kaitlin Young at Invicta FC 5 and walked away with a well-deserved unanimous decision win.
Former Invicta FC atomweight champion Jessica Penne (10-2) looks to get back into title contention when she faces veteran Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (8-6). Penne was crowned as the first champion in Invicta FC history when she won the 105-pound title in October. She lost the belt to Michelle Waterson at Invicta FC 5, but remains one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound female fighters. Rivera-Calanoc returns to Invicta FC for the first time since defeating “South Valley’s Own” Angelica Chavez this past July.
Scottish striking sensation Joanne Calderwood (6-0) takes on Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Claudia Gadelha (9-0) in a strawweight contender’s bout that likely will determine the next title challenger at 115 pounds. Calderwood is regarded as one of the premier female strikers in MMA today and has knocked out four of her opponents to date. Gadelha has finished all but two of her career opponents. She was originally scheduled to face Esparza in January, but a broken nose forced Gadelha off of the card.
Featherweight contenders Ediane Gomes (10-2) and Julia Budd (5-2) will square off in a bout that was supposed to take place at Invicta FC 5. Gomes and Budd are on the cusp of title contention and both are undefeated inside the Invicta FC cage. Gomes has won four straight fights since suffering a loss to current UFC champion Rousey. Budd has won three in a row and most recently submitted late replacement Mollie Estes earlier this month.
Popular Australian standout Bec Hyatt (5-2) makes her third appearance for Invicta FC when she takes on Japan’s top female prospect, Mizuki Inoue (5-1), in a strawweight bout. Hyatt was first set to face Calderwood in her January Invicta FC debut, but she stepped up on short notice to challenge Esparza for the promotion’s 115-pound title. Hyatt’s bid for the belt was unsuccessful, but she put on a strong showing in defeat and most recently stopped Jasminka Cive at Invicta FC 5. Her 18-year-old foe, Inoue, has dominated her opponents in Japan, and her lone defeat came via a close decision against Ayaka Hamasaki. All five of Inoue’s MMA wins have come via submission, but she is best known for her striking skills. She became the first Shoot Boxing Girls S-Cup champion at 53.5 kilograms this past year.
In a battle between two highly-touted strikers, “The Queen of Mean” Miriam Nakamoto (2-0 MMA, 15-0 Muay Thai) meets “Diamond” Duda Yankovich (1-1 MMA, 11-4 boxing) in a bantamweight bout. Nakamoto is viewed by some as the best female striker in the world today and she earned “Knockout of the Night” honors for her first-round stoppage of Jessamyn Duke at Invicta FC 5. Yankovich suffered a submission loss in her pro MMA debut, but the talented boxer rebounded with a gruesome victory in March when she used a keylock to snap the arm of opponent Daniela Cristina.
Prospects shine on Invicta FC 6 preliminary card
Strawweight prospects “Thug” Rose Namajunas (2-0) and Tecia Torres (2-0) are set to face off in the featured preliminary bout at Invicta FC 6. Namajunas put together a 4-0 record as an amateur before turning pro at Invicta FC 4 in January. She earned “Submission of the Night” honors for her third-round rear-naked choke victory over Emily Kagan and took home another bonus for her highlight-reel 12-second flying armbar submission of Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5. Torres won all seven of her amateur fights in a span of fewer than 10 months and captured three titles along the way. In her first two professional fights for Invicta FC, Torres showcased her excellent striking skills by outpointing fellow prospects Kaiyana Rain and “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant.
Former three-time amateur champion Ashley Cummins (3-1) steps back into the cage to face Emily Kagan (2-1) in a 115-pound bout. Cummins was the division’s top prospect until she suffered her first loss against Calderwood in October. The defeat left Cummins with a fractured orbital bone and she has been sidelined from MMA competition since then. She looks to get back on the winning track against Kagan, who opened her pro career with back-to-back wins before falling to Namajunas at Invicta FC 4 in January.
Estes (1-2) seeks her first Invicta FC win when she takes on featherweight knockout artist Veronica Rothenhausler (1-0), who scored back-to-back five-second knockouts prior to turning pro. At Invicta FC 4 in January, Rothenhausler took home a “Knockout of the Night” bonus for her first-round stoppage of Katalina Malungahu. Estes is 0-2 under the Invicta FC banner, but she put on game performances in both defeats.
Opening up the card, “Fancy” Laura Sanko (1-0) faces Livia Von Plettenberg (1-1). Sanko followed up on a 4-1 stint as an amateur by winning her pro debut at Invicta FC 4. Von Plettenberg stepped in on very short notice to face Calderwood on the same Invicta FC 4 card, but she dropped a one-sided unanimous decision after three rounds of striking action. She drops down to 105 pounds for the fight.
Invicta FC 6 takes place on July 13 at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. Bantamweight standout Leslie Smith (5-3-1) will also compete on the card against an opponent to be determined.
Sara McMann battles Sheila Gaff at UFC 159 on Saturday
2004 Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann (6-0) is set to make her Octagon debut on Saturday night at “UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen” in Newark, N.J. The elite wrestler faces hard-hitting striker Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff (10-4-1) in the third women’s bout ever promoted under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner.
Much like her Olympic counterpart, Ronda Rousey, McMann has made a steady climb up the women’s rankings since turning pro in 2011. She finished three of her first five opponents and totaled notable wins over Tonya Evinger and Hitomi Akano. In July, McMann faced submission specialist Shayna Baszler in the main event of Invicta FC 2 and earned a close unanimous decision victory. She was scheduled to make her Strikeforce debut in November, but the event was canceled.
Gaff spent much of the first half of her career competing as a featherweight. She won six of her first eight fights and all six victories ended inside the first two minutes. After going 1-2 in 2010, Gaff dropped down to 135 pounds late in the year to face Russian contender Milana Dudieva, but she came out on the wrong end of a razor-thin decision. The loss prompted Gaff to move down to the 125-pound division, where she knocked out three straight opponents. Her three flyweight wins lasted a combined total of just 1:52 and two ended inside the first 10 seconds.
The winner of the bout between McMann and Gaff will take a step closer to the UFC women’s bantamweight title that is presently held by Rousey. The McMann-Gaff fight is part of the UFC 159 preliminary card, which airs live on FX in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada.
Calderwood scores quick win in hometown return at Cage Warriors 53
Competing in front of her hometown fans in Glasgow, Scotland, Invicta FC contender Calderwood (6-0) notched another impressive first-round victory on April 13 at Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 53. Calderwood stopped veteran “Slick” Sally Krumdiack (9-7) with a vicious uppercut and follow-up punches at the 3:08 mark of Round 1.
Calderwood opened the action with a head kick and Krumdiack responded with a combination. Calderwood continued to score with kicks, but Krumdiack answered back with a one-two and she was aggressive with her punches. A hard body kick landed for Calderwood and she used another one to knock her opponent down as Krumdiack attempted a spinning backfist.
Krumdiack got back to her feet and ducked into an uppercut that landed to her left eye. In visible pain, Krumdiack fell to the mat and Calderwood unloaded with punches until the bout was stopped. Krumdiack steps back into the cage on July 13 when she faces Gadelha at Invicta FC 6.
Jessica Andrade upsets Milana Dudieva at ProFC 47
Brazilian prospect Jessica Andrade (9-2) scored the biggest victory of her career on April 14 at ProFC 47 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Andrade submitted Milana Dudieva (8-2) with a guillotine choke late in the second and final round after dominating most of the fight.
Andrade dropped Dudieva with a counter right hook early in Round 1 and she attempted a guillotine choke as Dudieva rose to her feet. Dudieva slammed her way out and stood up after escaping an Andrade armbar. Dudieva took Andrade down and fought off another armbar. The fighters scrambled and went for dueling heel hooks until the referee stood them up. In the final minute, Andrade landed hard knees and punches to the body.
Dudieva tripped Andrade and worked for an armbar on the ground in Round 2. Andrade punched her way free and she continued to strike from Dudieva’s half-guard as the Russian fighter began to fade. Andrade rained down punches until Dudieva finally got back to her feet. Late in the round, Dudieva tried to pull guard with a guillotine choke and Andrade punished her with punches from the top.
Dudieva stood up against the cage and Andrade pulled guard with a guillotine choke of her own. Dudieva attempted to escape, but she could not pull her head out and she was forced to submit at the 4:34 mark of Round 2.
Andrade has won seven of her past eight fights and her lone loss during that time came via a close decision against current Invicta FC contender Jennifer Maia. All nine of the 21-year-old’s victories have ended inside the distance. She hopes to make her U.S. debut later this year.
Eggink outpoints VanBuren at XFC 23
Fighting through the flu, talented striker Stephanie Eggink (3-1) picked up a close decision victory over Brianna VanBuren (1-1) on Friday night at “XFC 23: Louisville Slugfest” in Louisville, Ky. Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Eggink, who has won back-to-back fights under the XFC banner.
VanBuren took the fight to the ground in Round 1 and Eggink worked for an armbar from her back. VanBuren slammed her way out and stood up. She kicked at Eggink’s legs until Eggink returned to her feet. The fighters clinched and Eggink tried to take VanBuren’s back. VanBuren countered with punches to the body and a nice knee, and she fought off a guillotine choke late in the opening round.
A leg kick and a left cross scored for VanBuren in Round 2 and she clinched against the cage. Eggink landed a knee in close and the fighters were separated after a lull in the action. Eggink landed a combination and she countered a takedown by trapping VanBuren in a triangle choke. She switched between triangle chokes and triangle armbars during the final minute of the round, but VanBuren held on and escaped as time ticked down.
With the close fight seemingly even after 10 minutes, VanBuren landed kick-punch combos in Round 3 and Eggink responded with a quick flurry. VanBuren scored a takedown and moved to mount, but Eggink hooked her legs around VanBuren’s arms and escaped out the back. Eggink stood up to avoid an armbar and she secured a takedown into back control soon after. She spent the remainder of the fight working for rear-naked chokes and landing punches to the sides of VanBuren’s head.
All three judges scored the bout for Eggink, who remains unbeaten in XFC competition. She originally was slated to face Angela Magana for the inaugural XFC women’s strawweight title on Friday’s card, but Magana withdrew from the fight due to an injury. Eggink will likely compete for the XFC championship at a later date.
Stautzenberger wins third straight fight at Dakota FC 15
Texas-based strawweight Amber Stautzenberger (3-1) made it three-for-three in 2013 with a competitive decision victory on Saturday night at “Dakota FC 15: Spring Brawl” in Fargo, N.D. Stautzenberger edged out Glena Avila (2-2), who stepped into the fight on short notice in place of Jordan Nicole Gaza.
The fighters exchanged punches right away and Stautzenberger landed knees in a clinch against the cage. She took Avila down and punched with her left hand. Avila was active from her back and she hunted for an armbar. Stautzenberger landed more punches until Avila scrambled up to her feet. She picked Stautzenberger up and slammed her down, then spent the remainder of the round landing punches from a top-side crucifix position.
Round 2 began with both women trading punches once again. Avila elevated Stautzenberger and tried for another slam, but this time Stautzenberger countered with a guillotine choke. Avila pulled her head out and Stautzenberger transitioned to an armbar. A scramble ensued and Stautzenberger landed hammerfists from side control. She lost the position while attempting a submission and the round ended with Avila landing knees in the clinch.
Stautzenberger mixed up her strikes with punching combinations and leg kicks in Round 3. Avila backed her up to the cage, but Stautzenberger threw her to the mat and landed punches from side control. Stautzenberger moved to a high back mount in search of an armbar on Avila’s right arm. She nearly got it, but Avila defended well and fought back to her feet. Stautzenberger dropped down with another armbar attempt late in the fight.
The cageside judges returned scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice for Stautzenberger, who earned the unanimous decision win. The 25-year-old has won all three of her fights this year since dropping a close decision in her September pro debut.
Manjit Kolekar (4-0) def. Mona Mounir Mohamed (0-2) via TKO (punches) at the 2:19 mark of Round 1 at Super Fight League 15 on April 12 in Mumbai, India. Kolekar backed Mohamed up with punches right away and reversed a takedown into mount. She landed numerous punches from the top until the bout was finally stopped. Kolekar has won all three of her fights inside the SFL cage.
Bethe Correia (4-0) def. Anna Karoline (0-2) via TKO (punches) in Round 2 at Bokum Fight Championship on April 12 in Aracaju, Sergipe, Brazil. Correia posted her first stoppage victory in the fight after winning three straight decisions in 2012.
Alexandra Buch (6-2) def. Megan van Houtum (1-1) via TKO (doctor stoppage) at the 1:03 mark of Round 2 at Respect Fighting Championship 9 on April 13 in Dormagen, Germany. Buch got her career back on track with the win after suffering an upset loss to Jorina Baars in February. She had won three straight fights prior to the submission setback.
Karla Benitez (9-4) def. Jorgelina Seijas Cecchini (0-1) via KO (knee) in Round 1 at Fight4Life 5 on April 13 in Barcelona, Spain. Benitez has now earned finishes in seven of her career victories, including five knockouts. She has won three of her past five fights since losing to Megumi Fujii at Dream’s New Year’s Eve show in late 2011.
Gabrielle Holloway (3-0) def. Rosanna Garcia (0-1) via unanimous decision at Shogun Fights 8 on April 13 in Baltimore, Md. This bout was a rematch from an amateur fight one year prior. Holloway once again prevailed via judges’ decision and the featherweight prospect remains undefeated in 10 pro and amateur bouts.
Kyra Purcell (1-1) def. Arlene Blencowe (0-1) via submission (armbar) at the 1:27 mark of Round 2 at FightWorld Cup 14 on April 13 in Nerang, Queensland, Australia. Purcell was competing for the first time in more than three years and she rebounded from a loss to current Invicta FC competitor Muxlow in her 2009 pro debut.
On the same FightWorld Cup 14 card, 15-year-old Kaela Banney (1-0) def. Melanie Malone (0-2) via unanimous decision in a rematch from an amateur bout in November. Banney avenged her amateur loss to Malone and made a successful pro debut with the victory.
Maria Hougaard Djursaa (4-4) def. Jorina Baars (1-3) via TKO (retirement) at the 5:00 mark of Round 2 at “European MMA 5: “Frederiksberg” on April 19 in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark. This fight was a tale of two very different stories. Baars was in complete control of the striking exchanges, but Djurssa dominated the fight once she got her opponent down to the mat. Late in Round 2, Djursaa moved to mount and she battered Baars with dozens of punches and elbows until the bell. One strike cut Baars and she opted to retire from the bout before the start of the final round. Djursaa has won two straight fights.
Heather George (2-0) def. Jenna Bernick (0-3) via TKO (punches) at the 24-second mark of Round 1 at “SteelFist Fight Night 15: Caged Fury” on April 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. George rocked Bernick early in the heavyweight contest and dropped her with a combination seconds later that forced the referee to call a stop to the brief fight.
Paloma Fabrykant (3-0) def. Silvana Peralta (0-1) via submission (armbar) in Round 1 at Mixed Real World Fighters on April 20 in Caleta Olivia, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Fabrykant has finished all three of her opponents to date and she has only been out of the first round once.
Kikuyo Ishikawa (9-3) def. Miyoko Kusaka (3-6-1) via TKO (punch) at the 1:43 mark of Round 1 at “Pancrase: Sakaguchi Dojo vs. Pancrase” on April 21 in Okinawa, Japan. Ishikawa dictated the action in the rematch against Kusaka and she dropped her opponent with a hard right cross that prompted the referee to intervene for the TKO stoppage. Ishikawa dropped a split decision to Kusaka when the pair first faced off under the Jewels banner in March 2010. She has won seven of her eight fights since then.
Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (2-0) faces Klaudia Apenit (1-1) at MMA Attack 3 on April 27 in Katowice, Poland. Niedzwiedz earned a pair of TKO victories in a five-week span late in 2012. Apenit is coming off of a third-round TKO triumph in December.
Jessica Doerner (3-1) faces Ashley Omsberg (0-1) at “Golden Cage MMA: Magic City Mayhem 2? on May 4 in Minot, N.D. This bout is a rematch from the inaugural Magic City Mayhem card in August. Doerner defeated Omsberg via first-round TKO in the initial meeting and she is coming off of another stoppage win in February. In four professional bouts, Doerner has yet to see Round 2.
MMAjunkie.com publishes the Women’s MMA Report every other Monday. Its author, Robert Sargent, is a veteran MMA journalist who also runs MMARising.com. Feel free to email us at news [AT] mmajunkie.com with any questions, news tips or suggestions.
(Pictured: Cat Zingano)