On Saturday, Dec. 7, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted its seventh event from the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Mo.

The event featured two title bouts in the promotion’s flyweight and bantamweight divisions.

In the night’s top-billing, 125-pound champion Barb Honcak looked to defend her belt against hard-hitting Leslie Smith. Honchak captured the title with a unanimous decision win over Vanessa Porto at Invicta FC 5 in April. Smith, meanwhile, made a successful flyweight debut in July, topping Brazilian Jennifer Maia by decision.

The co-main event saw the promotion crown its inaugural bantamweight champion as undefeated Lauren Murphy (formerly Taylor) faced off with world Muay Thai champ Miriam Nakamoto. Murphy had gone 2-0 in the Invicta cage, edging veterans Kaitlin Young and Sarah D’Alelio, both via decision. Nakamoto’s first Invicta appearance ended in a no-contest, but she scored a huge knockout of Duda Yankovich in July.

The card was also expected to feature a third title bout between champion Carla Esparza and undefeated Brazilian Claudia Gadelha. However, Gadelha contracted a bacterial infection and was forced to pull out of the bout on fight day.

In addition to the title bouts, the card featured newly-signed Felice Herrig, former Bellator champion Zoila Frausto Gurgel and Ultimate Fighter 18 combatant Tonya Evinger.

The main card streamed live on the promotion’s website for $14.95 beginning at 9 p.m. ET, while the preliminary card streamed for free starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Honchak outclasses Smith to retain title

Invicta flyweight champion Barb Honchak put on a great display of technical striking and well-timed takedowns to edge Leslie Smith and retain her title via unanimous decision.

The champion Honchak came out firing and seeking a takedown. Smith did well to keep the fight standing, but she could not avoid Honchak’s combinations on the feet. Honchak used great footwork and head movement to get in and out with her punches. A missed head kick from Smith allowed Honchak to get the fight to the ground where she quickly took Smith’s back and looked for a finish as the round expired.

It was more of the same in round two. Honchak continued to land with her hands and she scored a big takedown near the fence. She looked to pass Smith’s guard, but Smith used the cage to stand. When the pair separated in the center of the cage, Honchak’s strikes still found their mark.

Smith opened as the aggressor in round three. She delivered a big head kick that Honchak caught. Smith’s volume increased as she looked to turn the fight into a brawl. Honchak fired back, but Smith landed over and over. Honchak landed a takedown late in the stanza, but Smith swept to the top position as the round came to a close.

As the championship rounds began, Honchak showed her resolve. She again scored with her boxing before setting up a big, double-leg takedown. She briefly mounted Smith, but was content to work from half guard. Honchak dropped short left hands but Smith worked back to standing. The pair traded on the feet until the bell.

Smith mixed up her strikes well to kick off round five. Honchak missed with a spinning back fist in a wild exchange. Smith threw a knee that Honchak timed and was planed on her back. Smith used a beautiful sweep to get back to her feet. The forward march of Smith continued until the final minute when Honchak put her on the mat until time expired.

Murphy claims inaugural bantamweight title after Nakamoto injures knee

Lauren Murphy survived a rough opening few rounds against Miriam Nakamoto before implementing her own game plan and eventually earning the inaugural bantamweight title when Nakamoto injured her knee.

It was a measured pace in the opening frame. Murphy bounced around on her feet to prevent Nakamoto from finding her range. Nakamoto landed a big straight that backed up Murphy, but did not follow up. Late in the frame Murphy bullied Nakamoto against the cage, but it was Nakamoto that scored with a big slam to finish the round.

Nakamoto opened up with her strikes in round two. She peppered Murphy with kicks and landed her jab. Murphy marched forward and absorbed everything she threw. Nakamoto scored with a big knee and elbow as Murphy tried to close the distance. A knee strike from Murphy landed low and the referee halted the bout temporarily. Nakamoto continued to land as the round expired.

The leg kicks from Nakamoto took their toll early in round two as Murphy’s knee buckled. However, her forward advance did not halt. Nakamoto secured the clinch and landed a huge knee. Murphy ate it and the pair traded positions. Murphy scored with her first takedown with 90 seconds remaining in the round, but Nakamoto was able to prevent her from mounting much offense from the bottom.

Round four opened with a brief exchange but Nakamoto’s right knee buckled. She fell to the mat in pain and the referee waived off the bout to hand Murphy the title.

Torres blows through Herrig

It was a changing of the guard in the 115-pound division as Tecia Torres kept her record unblemished with a lopsided decision win over veteran Felice Herrig.

Herrig barreled forward and looked for a takedown to kick off the contest. Torres defended and reversed her along the fence. The fighters separated and Herrig again powered in deep, but could not get Torres down. Torres opened up with her hands and kicks, landing combination after combination. Herrig fired back, but her speed disadvantage was evident. Herrig caught a kick in the waning seconds of the round, but did nothing with it.

In round two, Herrig abandoned her takedown attempts and opted to trade with Torres on the feet. It proved to be a poor choice as Torres used her speed to repeatedly land. Torres used her side kick to keep her distance and unloaded solid combinations with her hands. Herrig seemed frustrated and content to march forward and take the punishment.

Torres continued to land at will in round three. Herrig looked for takedowns, but Torres kept the fight upright. An axe kick attempt from Torres missed, but she followed it with punches. The pair jostled for position against the fence, with Torres scoring a trip takedown. She flurried from the top, but Herrig was able to reverse in the waning seconds. It was too little, too late for Herrig as Torres cruised to the win.

Calderwood edges Kankaanpaa

Undefeated Scottish strawweight Joanne Calderwood kept her perfect record intact with a grinding decision win over Finland’s Katja Kankaanpaa.

The first round was largely a sparring session as both fighters looking to find an opening. Kankaanpaa looked for a single-leg takedown, but Calderwood showed great balance to defend it. Kankaanpaa then looked to drag the fight to the mat, but ended up on the bottom. Calderwood rained short shots from the top position until the round closed.

Kankaanpaa was desperate for a takedown in round two. Her first attempt was stuffed by Calderwood, but her second, diving attempt was successful in getting Calderwood to the canvas. Calderwood scrambled to her feet, but allowed Kankaanpaa to take her back. The Finnish fighter transitioned to an arm-triangle attempt from the top, but ran out of time

Round three began with the fight quickly finding the mat as Calderwood caught a kick. The Scottish fighter allowed Kankaanpaa to stand and pressed her against the cage. She delivered short knees before separating and unleashing a big head kick that Kankaanpaa took well. Kankaanpaa again closed the distance and pinned Calderwood against the cage, but the pair traded positions. Calderwood scored with a very late takedown that likely sealed the fight in her favor.

Budd dominates Tweet

Two Canadian featherweights went to battle as Julia Budd faced off with Charmaine Tweet. Budd used her wrestling to control Tweet throughout, cruising to the decision victory.

After a quick exchange on the feet, Budd closed the distance and secured a big takedown near the fence. She quickly passed to side control and then looked to setup an armbar on Tweet’s left arm. Tweet was wise to it and briefly recovered her guard. Budd postured and moved back side control as the round concluded.

It didn’t take long for Budd to drag Tweet back to the canvas in round two. She again passed to side control and dropped short shots. Tweet recovered her guard and executed a beautiful reversal, but Budd powered back to the top position. Tweet briefly threatened with a choke attempt, but Budd easily escaped and continued to deliver punishment from the top position.

Budd again scored with a takedown to kick off round three. Tweet was able to keep her tied up from the guard, but failed to mount any offense as Budd cruised to the decision win.

Porto cruises past Gurgel

Former Invicta title challenger Vanessa Porto got back in the win column with an impressive unanimous decision win over former Bellator champion Zoila Frausto Gurgel.

Porto opened the fight as the aggressor with Gurgel looking to land counters. The Brazilian looked to close the distance, but Gurgel shrugged her off. Gurgel delivered a big knee midway through the frame, but Porto answered with a slapping leg kick. In the final minute Porto scored a big takedown and flurried from the top position.

Round two started with big combinations from both fighters and a wild scramble along the cage. Gurgel took Porto’s back in the process, but the Brazilian bullied her way out and blasted Gurgel on the way up. Porto continued to march forward and began to land with more frequency. Gurgel fired back with kicks, but she could not halt the flurries of Porto as the round expired.

The final round began with Gurgel firing combinations. Porto seemed unfazed and scored with a takedown along the cage. She passed to side control and rained short shots from the top position. Gurgel worked back to her feet in the final minutes and fired with desperation, but her efforts were for naught.

Evinger outworks D’Alelio

Bantamweight Tonya Evinger outworked late-replacement opponent Sarah D’Alelio to claim a unanimous decision win.

The two veterans wasted little time engaging. Evinger barreled forward and ate a big counter left hook from D’Alelio. As Evinger started to open up with her kicks, D’Alelio planted her on her back and quickly moved to side control. D’Alelio briefly attempted a kimura, but abandoned it.

Round two saw Evinger swing the momentum back in her favor with a big throw. She worked hard from the top position, but D’Alelio eventually worked back to her feet. Evinger scored with a big right hand that rocked D’Alelio and forced her to seek a takedown.

In the final frame, Evinger secured a double-leg takedown, but found herself in a deep armbar from D’Alelio. Evinger escaped and managed to control the rest of the bout on the mat.

Ansaroff stops Holland

In the first bout of the evening, Nina Ansaroff made a successful Invicta debut, stopping Munah Holland in the second round.

The opening frame saw Ansaroff score with a big takedown, capitalizing on Holland’s constant pressure.

It was more of the same in round two, as Ansaroff was able to bring the fight to the ground once again. However, it was Ansaroff’s power on the feet that spelled the end for Holland as the pair engaged in a wild exchange late in the middle round. A trio of shots from Ansaroff sent Holland crashing to the mat and Ansaroff flurried until referee John McCarthy waived off the contest.

FULL RESULTS
Barb Honchak def. Leslie Smith by unanimous decision (49-46 x3) – for flyweight title
Lauren Murphy def. Miriam Nakamoto by TKO (knee injury). Round 4, 0:23 – for inaugural bantamweight title
Tecia Torres def. Felice Herrig by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Joanne Calderwood def. Katja Kankaanpaa by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Julia Budd def. Charmaine Tweet by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Vanessa Porto def. Zoila Frausto Gurgel by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Tonya Evinger def. Sarah D’Alelio by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Nina Ansaroff def. Munah Holland by TKO (punches). Round 2, 3:54

Photo: Barb Honchak (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)