Invicta Fighting Championships had been touring for its’ last few events, going from Texas, to Iowa, to California but Friday night’s fight card took place on familiar soil. The Municipal Auditorium located in Kansas City, Kansas was the venue for Invicta FC 12, and was the locale for the first nine Invicta events. Kansas City is undoubtedly the home of Invicta and as is custom in their home shows, the women delivered, and gave us a few names and performances to take note of.
Although this was not Invicta’s best offering on name value, the event delivered on many fronts, especially in the upset department. Headlined by Katja Kankaanpää and now, new Invicta FC strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza, Invicta FC 12 was just another showing of Invicta’s unpredictability, exciting matchmaking and the unexpected star-making abilities of the all-female promotion. And with Invicta FC 12 now wrapped up, let’s praise the athletes that stood head and shoulders above the rest Friday night.
Livia Renata Souza
Livia Renata Souza had the biggest opportunity in her life on Friday and she did not let it slip. A newcomer to the Invicta Fighting Championships cage, and fighting outside of her home country of Brazil for the first time in her career, Souza beat the odds and earned a shiny gold belt on her mantel for her troubles.
Souza was having some success on the ground grappling with Kankaanpää, but was ultimately being dominated later on by the more savvy wrestler in Kankaanpää. After having very little success in the third round, Souza got more tenacious with her ground work in the fourth. Kankaanpää didn’t seem to respect any of Souza’s submission attempts and it ended up costing her dearly. After various submission escapes, Souza caught Kankaanpää in a strange, not very technical, triangle choke and after a few minutes of trying to muscle and fight her way out of it, the squeeze tightened up and she ultimately succumbed and tapped.
Herica Tiburcio pulled off the big upset in December against Michelle Waterson, and now Souza submitted the notoriously tough Finnish fighter. Make way people, because these Brazilians are not playing and are going after those Invicta titles.
Faith Van Duin
Much like Souza, New Zealand fighter Faith Van Duin also made her Invicta debut Friday after pulling out from her previous opportunity a few events back, and she really made up for it against Amanda Bell. Bell is a really dangerous woman who was getting some attention for her brutal ground & pound TKOs and was even being considered a contender for Cris Cyborg’s title by a few fans, but Van Duin put an end to that talk.
Van Duin negated Bell’s attack in the first with her relentless ground work, and although she took the stool to the second round with some scrapes, she looked relatively unscathed. Van Duin did not let her foot off the gas in the second frame, grabbing a hold of Bell and tirelessly looking for scrambles, she managed to get behind Bell and secure a super strange modified scarf/bulldog choke and get the tap. Van Duin’s performance was so good, that Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp seemingly granted her wish to fight for Cyborg’s featherweight title on Invicta FC 13. A bit premature perhaps, but Faith Van Duin’s performance showed that with a strong will, pressuring pace, and proficient grappling skills you can beat a ferocious, heavy handed knockout artist.
Raquel Pa’aluhi has really come a long way. Pa’aluhi had a 2-4 record just three years ago now she’s on a three fight win streak knocking on the door of title contention. Pa’aluhi won a 29-28 unanimous decision, but the fight was not as close as those numbers might indicate. The third round was won by Gomes landing takedowns and staying active in Pa’aluhi’s guard, however, the first two rounds were all Pa’aluhi by utter domination. The first two rounds consisted of Pa’aluhi outstriking Gomes, pushing her to the fence, landing constant takedowns and ground & pound, head throws, and even dropped Gomes with a perfectly placed knee to the body.
Raquel Pa’aluhi is improving in great strides with each fight and her performance at Invicta FC 13 showed she will continue to get better and she’s ready for real contenders at bantamweight. A fight between her and heavily acclaimed Mexican standout Irene Aldana would be a great fight for both of these rising bantamweights, and could justifiably be scheduled as a five round title fight for the vacant 135 lbs. title.
The thrashing that Lacey Shuckman dished out on Jenny Liou could’ve been considered downright criminal. Shuckman landed hard, crisp punches that had Liou staggering for the majority of the fight. Shuckman was absolutely ruthless in her attack, did not let up, and put the coffin nails in with a blitzing assault against the fence that came to a halt at just under two minutes of the first round.
Lacey Shuckman, now a strawweight after a few losses at atomweight, has improved dramatically. Her boxing is very solid now, she throws with more weight behind her punches and has better rhythm and timing. Moreover, Shuckman is a true sportswoman and did not allow one impressive victory get her cocky. Humble after her win, Shuckman stated that she wants to continue to improve and wants to work her way up the strawweight ladder. What a class act, and with that attitude it’s very likely she’ll get big fights sooner rather than later.