On Friday, April 5, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted its fifth event from the Ameristar Casino Kansas City in Kansas City, Mo.

The card was headlined by two title fights. Recently crowned atomweight champion Jessica Penne made the first defense of her belt against “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson. Also, the promotion crowned its inaugural flyweight champion as Barb Honchak battled Brazilian Vanessa Porto.

In addition to the headlining bouts, former Strikeforce champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino made her promotional debut against Fiona Muxlow and former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel took on Jennifer Maia.

The event aired via pay-per-view on the promotion’s website for $9.95. Doors opened at 5 p.m. CT with the five-fight preliminary card beginning at 6 p.m. CT.

Waterson forces Penne to tap; claims atomweight title

Michelle Waterson stunned champion Jessica Penne with a fourth-round armbar, claiming the 105-pound Invicta belt.

Waterson looked to use her karate early, delivering multiple kicks. Penne closed the distance and secured a body lock along the fence. An awkward exchange saw Waterson land in Penne’s guard, but Penne reversed the position. From the top, Penne looked to pass, but Waterson showed an active guard, threatening with an omoplata and armbar as the round concluded.

Round two began as a carbon copy. Penne looked to drag the fight to the ground, but Waterson landed on top. She moved to mount, but did not mount much offense from the advantageous position. Penne recovered her guard and threatened with a gogoplata before the fight returned to the feet. Waterson scored with a takedown late to seal the round.

Penne tripped Waterson to start round three. From side control, she effortlessly moved to mount. She rained shots on Waterson, but the challenger escaped. Penne maintained top position, delivering punishment. Penne took Waterson’s back and isolated her left arm, looking for the armbar. Waterson escaped the deep submission attempt, but Penne finished the round on top.

Waterson unleashed more kicks in round four, but Penne was again initiated the clinch. Penne dropped down in hopes of dragging Waterson to the ground, but the challenger was wise to it. Penne was desperate to get the fight to the ground, but her aggressiveness turned out to be her downfall as Waterson secured a fight-ending armbar.

Honchak outworks Porto, earns flyweight title

The Invicta 125-pound belt was on the line as Barb Honchak battled Brazilian Vanessa Porto for five, technical rounds.

Honchak opened the aggressor, scoring with multiple combinations on the feet. Porto fired back with leg kicks, but ate more right hands from Honchak in the process. Honchak slipped a punch late in the round and secured a body lock, but Porto was able to free herself as the bell sounded.

The fighters traded outside leg kicks early in the second stanza. Porto opened up with her kicking arsenal, chopping at Honchak’s legs. Honchak responded with combinations, but Porto showed good discipline to avoid the attacks in a close, technical round.

Honchak’s game plan became more apparent in round three as she looked to counter Porto’s kicks with counter shots. Porto was wise to it, frequently sliding out of the way. The volume of strikes thrown by Honchak far exceeded that of Porto, but neither fighter landed in high quantity.

The championship rounds began with more kicks from Honchak, but the exchanges inside became more frequent. Honchak slipped two minutes into the round, but Porto was unable to capitalize. Honchak proved to be the fresher fighter, continuing to throw with more frequency.

More technical exchanges graced the final round until Porto caught a Honchak kick and dumped her to the mat. Honchak quickly bounced back to her feet and her march forward continued as the fight ended.

The scorecards awarded Honchak for her efforts, making her the inaugural flyweight champion.

“Cyborg” destroys Muxlow

Former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino made a successful Invicta debut, earning a title shot with a lopsided beatdown of Australian Fiona Muxlow.

Cyborg wasted little time, connecting with a straight right hand that dropped Muxlow immediately. Muxlow managed to recover, but absorbed a ton of punishment from her back. Muxlow desperately searched for a takedown, but Cyborg continued to rain massive shots. Muxlow showed true heart, continuing to stand with the Brazilian, but after a huge knee and follow-up right hand, referee John McCarthy intervened and handed Cyborg the TKO win.

Kaufman ekes past Smith

Former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman survived a razor-thin decision against a spirited Leslie Smith in her Invicta debut.

Kaufman’s boxing skills were put to use early as she delivered crisp combinations from distance. Smith closed the distance and made the fight ugly with knees from the clinch. Kaufman’s punches continued to score, but Smith mixed in a variety of kicks and Kaufman’s offense turned to defense as the round closed.

Smith opened round two with an onslaught of knees and body shots from close quarters. Smith continued to open up with her striking, connecting with a massive head kick that dropped Kaufman. Smith looked for the finish, but Kaufman showed her resolve to survive and recover guard. Kaufman returned to her feet and fired jabs at Smith as they exchanged wildly to end the frame.

The pair continued to trade on the feet to kick off the final frame. Smith delivered more punishment from the inside, while Kaufman did her best work from distance. Kaufman secured a brief takedown midway through the round, but did nothing with it. Kaufman pressed forward on the feet, setting up another takedown attempt, but Smith stuffed it. The pair threw big shots until the final bell.

The entertaining battle was split on the scorecards, as two of the three judges favored the Canadian Kaufman.

Maia grinds out Gurgel

Debuting flyweight Jennifer Maia used a grinding assault to edge former Bellator champion Zoila Gurgel.

In the opening frame, there was a feeling out process on the feet until Maia tied up Gurgel against the cage. The pair jockeyed for position for a solid two minutes before the referee separated them. Maia quickly charged forward and again engaged the clinch. A late flurry saw both fighters score with strikes, but the round was very even.

It was more of the same to begin the second stanza. Maia continued to push Gurgel against the cage, but neither fighter was able to deliver offense and the referee again separated them. A flying knee attempt from Maia was the most exciting moment of the round, but Gurgel caught it and the round ended pressed against the cage.

Maia opened round three with a solid combination, but resorted to putting Gurgel against the fence. Another separation by John McCarthy allowed Maia to deliver a left head kick that Gurgel took well. Maia flurried hard in the final minute, but Gurgel was able to land a hip toss. Maia reversed the position and ended the fight on top.

The fight went to the scorecards where the judges all scored it favor of the Brazilian, Maia.

Taylor edges Young

Lauren Taylor made a successful Invicta debut, keeping her record unblemished with a unanimous decision win over veteran Kaitlin Young.

The first round was a back-and-forth battle. The bantamweights traded shots on the feet until Young tripped Taylor and landed in mount. She quickly took Taylor’s back and rained heavy shots. She attempted a rear-naked choke, but Taylor defended and was able to reverse the position. Young threatened with a triangle choke, but Taylor escaped and finished the round dropping heavy shots from the guard.

In round two the fighters traded leather early. Young marched forward which allowed Taylor to plant her on butt against the cage. Young briefly regained her footing, but Taylor again brought the fight to the mat. She took Young’s back and secured both hooks late in the round, but the bell prevented her from finished the choke attempt.

Taylor worked hard for a takedown in the opening minutes of round three, securing it along the fence. She patiently worked to side control and delivered big knees to the rib cage of Young. Taylor pinned Young against the fence and rained elbows in the waning moments, but was unable to stop Young.

The judges scored the fight 29-28 across the board in favor of Taylor.

Budd chokes Estes

Canadian featherweight Julia Budd shook off multiple opponent changes to submit local favorite Mollie Estes in the third round with a rear-naked choke.

Budd used her strength early and often in the opening frame. She planted Estes on her back and eventually moved to the mount. Estes exploded back to her feet, but Budd pressed her against the fence before securing another takedown. The Canadian rained elbows late in the frame, but Estes survived.

Round two began with Budd violently slamming Estes onto the canvas again. She moved to mount and looked to attack an arm. Estes shook her off and briefly secured the top position, but Budd powered out and again gained the dominant position. Budd continued to control the fight but could find a finish in the stanza.

Yet another takedown opened round three and Budd again moved to mount. Estes gave her back once more and Budd latched onto her neck. Despite not having her hooks, Budd was able to coerce the tap from a visibly battered Estes.

Hyatt submits Cive

Australia’s Bec Hyatt rebounded from her strawweight title defeat in January with a dominant, one-sided performance against Austria’s Jasminka Cive.

Hyatt pressed forward immediately, backing up Cive with punches. Hyatt dumped Cive to the mat and quickly secured the full mount. Once there, Hyatt rained punches and elbows that battered Cive. She then transitioned to a belly-down armbar and forced Cive to tap with 90 seconds remaining in the round.

Preliminary Card Summary

Late replacement Simona Soukupova snapped the four-fight winning streak of fellow atomweight Cassie Rodish with a second-round guillotine choke. The pair battled hard for position throughout the opening round, with Soukupova delivered punishment from the clinch. When Rodish looked to bring the mat to the ground in round two, Soukupova answered with multiple guillotine attempts. Late in the round, one paid off as Rodish submitted.

World-class striker Miriam Nakamoto moved to 2-0 with a first-round knockout of previously undefeated Jessamyn Duke. Duke worked hard for a takedown for the opening minute of the fight, but a vicious knee from Nakamoto sent her falling to the canvas. A follow-up knee finished the job as John McCarthy intervened.

Finland’s Katja Kankaanpaa kept her perfect record intact but handed Brazilian Juliana Lima her first defeat in a grinding strawweight battle. Kankaanpaa used multiple lateral drops to put Lima on her back and controlled the positioning throughout. Lima’s vaunted striking attack never got started, as she fell by unanimous decision.

Strawweight Rose Namajunas moved to 2-0 with a lightning-fast flying armbar win over Kathina Catron that lasted just 12 seconds.

Australia’s Alex Chambers wasted little time making her mark on the promotion, handing Jodie Esquibel her first loss with a first-round rear-naked choke. Chambers quickly took control of the atomweight bout, dragging Esquibel to the mat, taking her back and securing the submission.

Michelle Waterson def. Jessica Penne by submission (armbar). Round 4, 2:31 – new atomweight champ
Barb Honchak def. Vanessa Porto by unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 48-47) – new flyweight champion
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino def. Fiona Muxlow by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 3:46
Sarah Kaufman def. Leslie Smith by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Jennifer Maia def. Zoila Gurgel by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Lauren Taylor def. Kaitlin Young by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Julia Budd def. Mollie Estes by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 3, 1:04
Bec Hyatt def. Jasminka Cive by submission (armbar). Round 1, 3:30
Simona Soukupova def. Cassie Rodish by submission (guillotine choke). Round 2, 3:20
Miriam Nakamoto def. Jessamyn Duke by knockout (knee). Round 1, 2:20
Katja Kankaanpaa def. Juliana Carnerio Lima by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Rose Namajunas def. Kathina Catron by submission (flying armbar). Round 1, 0:12
Alex Chambers def. Jodie Esquibel by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 1:35

Photo: Michelle Waterson submits Jessica Penne (Esther Lin/Invicta FC)