Women’s world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion Invicta Fighting Championships will return to Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City on December 7 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.
Tickets priced from $35, for the highly-anticipated return of Invicta FC women’s MMA action go on sale at 10 a.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 18, at TicketFly.com.
“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.