Yana Kunitskaya Picture Perfect in Claiming Bantamweight Belt (Invicta FC 25 Results & Highlights)

September 1, 2017

It’s been a wild road to the title for Yana Kunitskaya, but she put on a picture-perfect performance at Invicta FC 25 on Thursday night to lay claim to the bantamweight belt at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif.

From the opening bell, Kunitskaya was quick to engage, stuffing Raquel Pa’aluhi’s takedown attempts and putting her on the fence, repeatedly. Kunitskaya made the Hawaiian wear her weight early, while mixing in an array of strikes.

As the rounds wore on, Kunitskaya kept employing her strategy of stuffing Pa’aluhi’s takedowns and planting her on the fence in the clinch. What changed, however, was that Kunitskaya did more damage with her knees to Pa’aluhi’s body. Realizing that she was wearing her opponent down, Kunitskaya separated more quickly from the clinch and started to put her jab and front kick to work in the center of the cage.

Pa’aluhi, bloodied and tiring, put her heart on full display, never once looking like she would fold. Though she looked frustrated at times, being mostly unable to secure the takedown and put the fight where she wanted it, Pa’aluhi kept firing, trying to find a way to turn the tide.

Kunitskaya, however, was fighting in the Matrix on Thursday night. She seemed to slipped away even before Pa’aluhi began her moves. She landed multiple strikes in a blur, truly looking as if she was enjoying her moment.

It paid off, as Kunitskaya was awarded all five rounds by the judges, capturing the Invicta bantamweight championship.

Kunitskaya held the belt briefly after stepping into the Invicta cage late last year by submitting Tonya Evinger, but the result was changed to a no contest due to a questionable call by the referee. The two rematched with Evinger submitting Kunitskaya minus any doubts.

Yana KunitskayaThis time, there is no controversy swirling around Kunitskaya and she can lay clear claim to the bantamweight belt that Evinger vacated when she stepped over to the UFC’s Octagon.

The Brazilian Gangster, Livia Renata Souza, a former Invicta FC strawweight champion, put on a strong performance against the previously undefeated Janaisa Morandin in the co-main event, likely putting herself in a title fight in her next bout.

Though Morandin was strong with her striking on the feet, she couldn’t keep the fight there. As soon as she started landing with heavy combinations, Souza planted her on the canvas and unleashed a strong ground-and-pound strategy. 

Morandin stayed aggressive off of her back throughout, but couldn’t mount enough offense to turn the tide. All three rounds played out in a similar fashion, with Morandin wearing the effects of Souza’s ground assault on her face at the end of the fight. 

The judges awarded Souza a unanimous decision victory.

“It’s a hard camp. My father died a few weeks (ago). I can’t talk, I’m sorry, I’m so emotional,” Souza said after the fight, but rest assured she will regroup and look to earn back the belt she once wore around her waist. The strawweight championship has sat vacant since champion Angela Hill returned to the UFC.

  • Fight of the Night: Livia Renata Souza and Janaisa Morandin
  • Performance of the Night: Yana Kunitskaya
  • Performance of the Night: Yaya Rincón

Invicta FC 25: Kunitskaya vs. Pa’aluhi Results

  • Yana Kunitskaya def. Raquel Pa’aluhi by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • Livia Renata Souza def. Janaisa Morandin by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Alexa Conners def. Katharina Lehner by TKO (punches) at 4:21, R1
  • Kali Robbins def. Sharon Jacobson via submission (armbar) at 0:42, R1
  • Shino VanHoose def. Alyse Anderson by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Sarah Kleczka def. Amberlynn Orr via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Yaya Rincon vs. Courtney Kingvia TKO (strikes) at 3:41, R2
  • Cheri Muraski def. Tracy Cortez via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:42, R2
  • Jillian DeCoursey def. Ashley Medina via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

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