Professional boxer and undefeated MMA upstart Kim Connor-Hamby (4-0) of Stuttgart, Ark. will collide in a bantamweight (135 pounds) bout with fellow prolific striker Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith (3-2-1) of Pleasant Hill, Calif. at the highly-anticipated Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama, women’s world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Connor-Hamby will replace Cat Zingano, whom Invicta FC has sent to compete in Strikeforce.
In Invicta FC 3 preliminary card action, undefeated power puncher Katalina Malungahu (2-0) of Las Vegas, Nev. will face submission specialist Ediane Gomes (8-2) of Coconut Creek, Fla. via Sao Paulo, Brazil in a featherweight (145 pounds) bout, after Malungahu’s original opponent, Taylor Stratford, was forced to withdraw from the commitment due to a knee injury.
“I’m very excited to be fighting with all the big names that are on this Invicta FC card,” said the 31-year-old Connor-Hamby who, to date, has been lighting up her local MMA scene with her polished western boxing skills. “My hands are where it’s at. I want to show everyone what a woman can do with boxing inside the cage and I do not want to go to the ground at all in this fight.”
Since she began her pro career in the boxing ring in 2004, Connor-Hamby has registered a record of 10-2-2 (4 KO’s) in the sport, earning her 10th career victory in the sweet science with a 10-round unanimous decision over Nicole Woods on Aug. 25.
It was four years ago, shortly after giving birth, that Connor-Hamby took up MMA training as a means of getting back in shape, after learning about the sport’s rigorous conditioning routines from a work colleague of her husband. Realizing, soon after, that her boxing skills could be used as a weapon in MMA competition, Connor-Hamby decided to try her hand in the hybrid sport.
In her MMA debut on June 27, 2009, Connor-Hamby needed just 20 seconds to stop Crystal Hamilton with a barrage of punches. Connor-Hamby reeled off TKO victories in each of her next two starts and earned a split decision over Jessica Hilger in her last MMA bout on April 17, 2010.
The 31-year-old Smith is also a seasoned striker. On April 28, she brought fans to their feet at the inaugural Invicta FC event at Memorial Hall, exchanging flurry after flurry of strikes with Kaitlin Young in a matchup that was scored a majority draw by the judges. The bout was recognized as “Fight of the Night” by Invicta FC.
Smith, a product of the Cesar Gracie Academy, went unbeaten (3-0) as an amateur before turning pro on March 6, 2009 and scoring a third round (4:16) TKO on Louise Johnson with a series of punches.
Training at American Top Team, Gomes is looking to notch her third consecutive win. A submission specialist who has tapped out opponents in six of her eight-career victories, Gomes is a five-year veteran of pro MMA competition.
Since she stormed onto the competitive MMA scene in 2011, Malungahu has gained recognition for her furious punching abilities, stopping both of her professional opponents and all three of her amateur opponents inside of two rounds. She is coming off a 36 second KO (punches) victory over Ericka Newsome on July 28.
Tickets for Invicta FC 3: Penne vs. Sugiyama, priced from $25, are on sale at Memorial Hall box office (913-549-4853), online at Ticketmaster.com and InvictaFC.com and by phone at (800-745-3000)
In the main event, atomweight (105 pounds) superstars Jessica Penne (9-1) of Laguna Hills, Calif. and Naho “Sugi Rock” Sugiyama (8-0) of Kyoto, Japan will square off in the first-ever Invicta FC world championship bout.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-7) of Sioux Falls, S.D. will return to action in the bantamweight co-main event and take on Invicta FC 2 winner Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (6-2) of San Jose, Calif.
Former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Sarah Kaufman (15-2) of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada will face off with prolific striker Kaitlin Young (7-6-1) of St. Louis Park, Minn.
Another Invicta FC 2 victor, Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (6-2) of Bettendorf, Iowa will throw down with rising star and exciting finisher Aisling “Ais The Bash” Daly (13-3) of Dublin, Ireland in a flyweight (125 pounds) contest.
Submission expert and women’s MMA pioneer Tara LaRosa (21-2) of Woodstown, N.J. will lock horns at flyweight with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Vanessa Porto (14-5) of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson (9-3) of Albuquerque, N.M. will battle Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman (7-5) of Lakewood, Colo. in an atomweight scrap.
In the leadoff main card bout, Julia “The Jewel” Budd (3-2) of Port Moody, Canada will meet Elaina “Beef” Maxwell (7-4) of San Jose at featherweight.
The six-bout preliminary card will be topped by a strawweight (115 pounds) matchup between Carla Esparza (7-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. and Lynn Alvarez (5-2) of Las Vegas.
Two undefeated prospects, Ashley Cummins (3-0) of St. Louis, MO. and Joanne Calderwood (3-0) of Glasgow, Scottland will collide at flyweight.
Amy Davis (3-3) of Idaho Falls, Idaho will face Stephanie Frausto (3-4) of Middletown, Ohio in an atomweight affair.
Fresh off her professional debut win at Invicta FC 2, highly-touted Jessamyn Duke (1-0) of Richmond, Ky. will face unbeaten Marciea Allen (1-0) of Sioux Falls in a bantamweight battle.
Tecia Torres (0-0) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Kaiyana Rain (0-0) of Los Angeles, Calif. will make their respective professional debuts against each other at strawweight.