Women’s world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion Invicta Fighting Championships will return to Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City with a stacked, nine-bout event featuring three world title fights, including a main event showdown between reigning flyweight champion Barb Honchak (8-2) of Bettendorf, Iowa and three-time “Fight of the Night” winner Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith (6-3-1) of Pleasanton, Calif.
“We are excited about returning to the big stage in full force with another loaded card featuring a fantastic mix of world championship bouts and other world-class MMA action that will see a collection of the best women fighters on the planet face off against each other,” said Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp.
In the co-main event, Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (9-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. will put her strawweight (115 pounds) championship on the line against surging, undefeated superstar Claudia Gadelha (11-0) of Mossoro, Rio Grande Do Norte Brazil.
In the first-ever Invicta FC bantamweight (135 pounds) world championship bout, hard-hitting KO artist Lauren Murphy (7-0) of Anchorage, Alaska will battle fellow unbeaten star Miriam Nakamoto (2-0, 1 NC) of Dublin, Calif.
The 34-year-old Honchak, a protégé of former world champion Pat Miletich, dominated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Vanessa Porto to become the first Invicta FC 125 pound champion in history on July 13. The victory was Honchak’s seventh straight.
Smith, a 31-year-old striking aficionado, has become a memorable face by engaging in all-out slugfests with her opponents on the five Invicta FC cards that she has appeared on. On July 13, Smith, in her firsts start at flyweight after a healthy run at bantamweight, outgunned Jennifer Maia to earn a unanimous decision after three rounds of action.
The 26-year-old Esparza, a student of famed trainer Colin Oyama, will step in the cage for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in training earlier this year. In her last effort at Invicta FC 4 on January 5, she notched her fourth consecutive win, a unanimous decision over “Rowdy” Bec Hyatt.
Gadelha has been unstoppable with her submission game and, lately, her striking, since turning pro in 2008. The 24-year-old will make her second start under the Invicta FC banner after scoring a third round (3:58) TKO on JEWELS champion Ayaka Hamasaki with a barrage of punches on July 13.
Murphy has been perfect, thus far, in the Invicta FC cage, earning back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Kaitlin Young and Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio on April 5 and July 13, respectively. Prior to her Invicta FC debut, the 30-year-old had scored TKO finishes on all five her career opponents.
The 37-year-old Nakamoto, a seasoned Muay Thai champion extended her unblemished record at Invicta FC 6, scoring a thunderous first round (2:08) TKO on Duda Yankovich with a knee strike and series of punches. The finish earned Nakamoto “KO of the Night” honors.
In other main card action, Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig (9-4) of Buffalo Grove, Illin. will make her highly-anticipated Invicta FC debut and put a four-fight win streak on the line in a strawweight matchup opposite unbeaten, fast-rising star Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (3-0) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Another matchup of unbeaten rising stars will pit Joanne Calderwood (7-0) of Glasgow, Scotland against Katja “Killer Bunny” Kankaanpaa (8-0-1) of Seinajoki, Southern Ostrobothnia Finland at strawweight.
Heavy-handed powerhouse Julia “The Jewel” Budd (5-2) of Port Moody, British Columbia Canada will put a three-fight win streak on the line against submission ace Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet (4-3) Regina, Saskatchewan Canada in a featherweight (145 pounds) scrap.
Porto (15-6) of Sao Paulo, Brazil will look to rebound from a defeat the hands of Honchak at the last Invicta FC event in July when she collides with fellow superstar Zoila Frausto Gurgel (12-3) of Cincinnati, Ohio at flyweight. Porto has claimed 10 of her 15 professional career victories by way of submission while Gurgel has defeated a host of top rivals, including Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fujii during her outstanding four plus year professional career.
Kelly Kobold (18-3) of Minneapolis, Minn. will make her long-awaited Invicta FC debut in a bantamweight tilt with fellow ferocious finisher Tonya “Triple Threat” Evinger (11-6) of Odessa, Mo.
In another meeting between two Invicta FC newcomers, hard-punching Munah “The Perfect Storm” Holland (5-2) of Elmwood Park, N.J. will face streaking Nina “The Strina” Ansaroff (5-4) of Fort Lauderdale at flyweight.