On Saturday, July 28, all-women’s promotion Invicta Fighting Championships hosted its second event, “Baszler vs. McMann,” from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan.
The night’s main event featured longtime veteran Shayna Baszler taking on former Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann. Also on the card, Japanese submission specialist Hitomi Akano met Strikeforce veteran Alexis Davis.
An additional 12 fights filled the card, which streamed live via the promotion’s website.
Former Olympic wrestling silver medalist Sara McMann punched her ticket for the first Invicta FC bantamweight title fight with a closely-contested decision win over submission ace Shayna Baszler.
The opening round saw the two grappling stalwarts battle it out on the feet. McMann frequently flurried, but it was Baszler who controlled the center of the cage and effectively countered McMann’s strikes.
In the second round, Baszler opened up with her striking which led McMann to latch onto a kick and get a takedown. Baszler showed off her slick ground game by quickly attacking McMann’s legs. McMann was able to escape the submission holds, but gave up the top position in the process.
McMann was the aggressor in the final round, pushing forward with her striking for the first time in the fight. She scored with another takedown and looked to take Baszler’s back. In the waning moments of the fight, Baszler rocked McMann with a right hand, but the bell prevented her from inflicting further damage.
When the scorecards were announced, it was McMann who was awarded the unanimous decision victory.
Bantamweight Alexis Davis bounced back from a close defeat to Sarah Kaufman under the Strikeforce banner to submit Japanese veteran Hitomi Akano.
Davis controlled the opening frame with her stand-up. Akano’s unorthodox striking did not confuse Davis, who frequently backed up the 38-year-old. Akano did score with a shoulder throw, but Davis reversed the position and ended up on top.
The second round was all Davis. She first scored on the feet, but then put Akano on her back. Davis worked from side control, to mount, and then took Akano’s back and flattened her out. Akano fought hard to defend the rear-naked choke, but Davis eventually secured it and forced her to submit.
Former Strikeforce title challenger Liz Carmouche won her second straight fight under the Invicta banner by submitting Kaitlin Young in their bantamweight affair.
Young peppered Carmouche with straight right hands throughout the opening round. Carmouche frequently found herself with her back against the cage until she scored with a takedown in the final minute.
In the second round, Carmouche caught a kick from Young and again put Young on her back. Carmouche worked from side control, and eventually worked to the mount and then Young’s back. Once there, the U.S. Marine slapped on the fight-finishing rear-naked choke that forced Young to tap.
Jewels’ lightweight (115-pound) champion Ayaka Hamasaki proved that her first venture onto U.S. soil would not impact her performance as she scored a third-round armbar victory over Lacey Schuckman.
Hamasaki’s judo skills were on display throughout the contest as she repeatedly put Schuckman on her back with throws and trips. Schuckman showcased her heart despite being on her back for a large portion of the fight.
Hamasaki attacked with an armbar at the end of the second and third rounds, and while Schuckman survived the middle frame, she could not make the final bell in the third. Schuckman tapped with 15 seconds remaining in the fight, keeping Hamasaki’s undefeated record intact.
In just two minutes, both Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pa’aluhi nearly ended their bantamweight bout, but it Nunes who was successful.
Pa’aluhi, who took the fight on just two weeks’ notice, quickly took Nunes’ back in the opening minute and threatened to finish the fight by choke. However, Nunes turned the table and took the back of Pa’aluhi. Nunes quickly applied a rear-naked choke of her own and choked Pa’aluhi unconscious.
In a fast-paced battle, late replacement Sarah D’Alelio upset Brazilian Vanessa Porto in their 135-pound match-up.
Porto attacked early with leg kicks, but D’Alelio was able to stagger Porto with her reach. Porto responded with a takedown and quickly transitioned to an armbar. D’Alelio escaped and rained punches from the top. As Porto worked to escape out the back, D’Alelio attacked with a kimura and then added a reverse triangle, and Porto tapped.
Flyweight Barb Honchak may have given Bethany Marshall second thoughts about the 125-pound division with a dominant performance.
Honchak quickly took Marshall’s back in the opening minute. The two engaged in a grappling battle for most of the five-minute stanza, but Honchak was in control the entire time.
In the second round, Honchak again gained an advantageous position and rained punches from Marshall’s back. After Marshall could not defend herself any longer, referee John McCarthy halted the action and Honcak walked away with the TKO.
In a fight that was expected to be fireworks on the feet, Canadian featherweight Julia Budd used her wrestling and ground-and-pound to best Sweden’s Elina Nilsson.
Budd ducked under a punch early in the fight and scored with a big takedown. Once on top, Budd rained down punches and elbows. Nilsson survived the initial onslaught, but ultimately succumbed to Budd’s relentless attack and the referee intervened.
After a spirited first round between Carla Esparza and Sarah Schneider, Esparza poured it on in the second round and forced referee John McCarthy to waive off the bout due to strikes.
Atomweight Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc used an aggressive striking attack to overwhelm Angelica Chavez for the majority of their 15-minute bout. Chavez showed heart near the end with submission attempts, but Rivera-Calanoc was too much for her.
Raquel Pennington put the first blemish on the record of Sarah Moras in a back-and-forth three-round affair that saw the Colorado fighter pick up a unanimous decision win.
With her lengthy 5-foot-11 frame, Jessamyn Duke picked up a win in her pro debut by dismantling Suzie Montero and scoring a third-round TKO due to elbows.
Another debuting professional, Jocelyn Lybarger, used superior wrestling and ground-and-pound to outlast Cheryl Chan and take a unanimous decision.
In a battle of fighters making their professional debuts, Liz McCarthy battered Jessica Philippus and forced a doctor’s stoppage after the first round.
Sara McMann def. Shayna Baszler by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Alexis Davis def. Hitomi Akano by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:41
Liz Carmouche def. Kaitlin Young by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:34
Ayaka Hamasaki def. Lacey Schuckman by submission (armbar). Round 3, 4:45
Amanda Nunes def. Raquel Pa’aluhi by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:24
Sarah D’Alelio def. Vanessa Porto by submission (shoulder lock). Round 1, 3:16
Barb Honchak def. Bethany Marshall by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:22
Julia Budd def. Elina Nilsson by TKO (elbows). Round 1, 3:49
Carla Esparza def. Sarah Schneider by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:28
Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc def. Angelica Chavez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Raquel Pennington def. Sarah Moras by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Jessamyn Duke def. Suzie Montero by TKO (elbows). Round 3, 2:32
Jocelyn Lybarger def. Cheryl Chan by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Liz McCarthy def. Jessica Philippus by TKO (doctor’s stoppage). Round 1, 5:00
Photo: Shayna Baszler (L) congratulates Sara McMann (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)