Following every UFC and Invicta FC event, The MMA Corner will break down the event and suggest fights the promotion should make in the future. This week, our focus is on Invicta Fighting Championships 7, which took place on Dec. 7 from the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo.

Barb Honchak vs. Kalindra Faria

Barb Honchak impressed when she claimed the Invicta flyweight crown with a win over Vanessa Porto, and she did so again in her first defense of the title against Leslie Smith. One could even call Honchak the bantamweight killer, for she has now turned away two former high-level bantamweight-turned-flyweight fighters.

The issue right now with the flyweight division is that many of its better fighters have opted to bulk up and make a run at the UFC as bantamweights. That leaves only a few options for Honchak. She could rematch with Porto, who did a fine job in three rounds of action against Zoila Frausto Gurgel. Or, she could face a promotional newcomer ranked within the top 10 of the division.

Despite Porto’s win on Saturday night, she still should fight one more time before earning a rematch against an opponent who defeated her quite handily the first time around. That leaves the second option, and two names: Kalindra Faria or Michelle Ould.

Ould is highly regarded and just recently signed with Invicta, but she has only fought three times in the last three years and is more than a year removed from her most recent outing. She would need a fight or two before entering the cage with Honchak. That leaves Faria, who is on an eight-fight winning streak and possesses a 12-3 career mark. Faria has lost to Porto and Claudia Gadelha and fought to a draw with Jennifer Maia, but she is nearly three years removed from the last of those setbacks and has put together the best streak of any remaining flyweight contender.

Lauren Murphy vs. Holly Holm

Injury is never the result upon which a fighter wants a championship victory, but that’s the situation that Lauren Murphy found herself in after Miriam Nakamoto’s leg gave out in the fourth round of their championship tilt. Nakamoto’s injury gave Murphy the TKO victory and the Invicta bantamweight title.

Under normal circumstances, the winner of such a fight would likely be UFC-bound in the near future, but Murphy’s win is tarnished by the injury to Nakamoto and the fact that Nakamoto was likely up on the scorecards heading into the fourth round. Had her knee not blown, Nakamoto could be the one holding the belt right now.

With Nakamoto likely out for an extended period of time, Murphy needs another stiff test to prove that she really is worthy of the title and a possible phone call from the UFC. However, with the UFC’s hold over the bantamweight division, Murphy is left with few potential top-flight opponents. This is a situation where Invicta will have to import someone from outside of its roster, and the two best options, Rin Nakai and Holly Holm, would probably require some negotiations with other promotions.

Holm truly stands as the best option at this point. Legacy is struggling to find credible opposition for the highly decorated pro boxer, but her unanimous decision win over Angela Hayes this weekend at a regional show in New Mexico demonstrates Legacy’s flexibility in letting her fight outside of the promotion’s cage.

Furthermore, Holm provides a similar reach and style issue to what Nakamoto brought to the cage against Murphy. Murphy needs to prove that she can get inside against skilled strikers who like to keep opponents at range but also have takedown defense at their disposal.

This would serve as the next logical step in Holm’s progression to an eventual UFC run and give Murphy the chance to correct the areas of her game that left her trailing against Nakamoto prior to the premature end of their bout.

Tecia Torres vs. Carla Esparza

The women’s strawweight division was thrown for many loops on Saturday, from Claudia Gadelha’s late scratch that left Carla Esparza without a fight to Esparza’s surprising calling out of Tecia Torres following Torres’ impressive decision win over Felice Herrig. Sometimes fights make themselves, and that’s the case here, with Torres now seemingly lined up to get the next crack at the Invicta 115-pound strap.

Judging by the crowd reaction during her fight with Herrig, the “Tiny Tornado” has no shortage of fans. She is only four fights into her pro career, but she has fought exclusively under the Invicta banner and made a quick ascension with decision victories over Kaiyana Rain, Paige VanZant, Rose Namajunas and now Herrig.

Although the more predictable road for Invicta to take would see the Esparza-Gadelha fight rescheduled and Torres meet Joanne Calderwood in a title eliminator, there really is no strong argument against granting Torres the next shot.

Joanne Calderwood vs. Claudia Gadelha

With Carla Esparza calling out Tecia Torres, Joanne Calderwood is once again left out in the cold. The Muay Thai fighter defeated Katja Kankaanpaa on Saturday evening, but she will seemingly once again get passed over for the title bid. That leaves the undefeated Scot to fight in a title eliminator. And what better opponent than the woman who has regularly been the obstacle in Calderwood’s path to the title? That’s right, Claudia Gadelha.

Gadelha was set to fight Esparza for the inaugural title in January, but a broken nose forced her out of that fight and gave Bec Hyatt an opportunity for the title. Granted, Calderwood turned down the short-notice opportunity to step in as Gadelha’s replacement then. But months later, Gadelha defeated Hamasaki and again earned the title bid. Once again, Gadelha bowed out and another fighter has seemingly leapfrogged Calderwood in line. It’s time for the Scot to state her case for championship gold, and there’s no better way to do that than to defeat the woman that Invicta is insistent on promoting into a championship bout.

The fight also makes sense from the perspective of Invicta and Gadelha. Gadelha needs to prove she can stay healthy up to and through fight time, and Invicta needs to see this proof. After two championship bouts involving Gadelha fell through, Invicta isn’t going to be so quick to grant her another turn as the challenger.

Julia Budd vs. Marloes Coenen

Following Julia Budd’s dominant performance in a unanimous decision victory over Charmaine Tweet, the 30-year-old called for a fight with Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. That fight, however, may be a bit premature. Ediane Gomes remains the most logical and best-equipped foe for Cyborg at this time. Budd has shown gains in all areas of her game, but the Canadian could use another fight or two before running into the buzzsaw that is Cyborg.

Budd’s four-fight winning streak puts her near the front of the contenders list and she stands as a 6-2 prospect, so why not give her another rising featherweight prospect as a final test before she meets Justino? The most appropriate option is for her to face the only other woman seen as a consistent top featherweight: Marloes Coenen. If Budd can solve the riddle of Coenen, she will prove that she is ready to fight Cyborg.

Vanessa Porto vs. Jennifer Maia

Vanessa Porto righted the ship with a strong showing in a unanimous decision victory over former Bellator champion Zoila Frausto Gurgel. The win certainly moves her towards a rematch with champion Barb Honchak, but the Brazilian should fight in a title eliminator before earning that second bid at the title.

Such a title eliminator could come against Jennifer Maia. Maia’s last outing resulted in a unanimous decision loss against Leslie Smith, who went on to challenge for the title. Maia had previously topped Zoila Frausto Gurgel and Jessica Andrade to prove she belonged in the upper echelon of 125ers. However, she has met Porto before and lost via submission. She also fought to a draw with Kalindra Faria and lost to Sheila Gaff, so, much like Porto, Maia has something to prove before earning a chance to vie for Invicta gold.

Put Maia and Porto opposite each other and call it a title eliminator. The winner would definitely stand as a legitimate contender.

Tonya Evinger vs. Tara LaRosa

Tonya Evinger’s showing on The Ultimate Fighter 18 left many doubting her ability to hang with any division’s best. However, Missouri holds a special magic over Evinger’s career, as she was able to remain undefeated in her home state with a unanimous decision victory over Sarah D’Alelio.

Evinger has dropped to 125 pounds in the past, but it’s not an easy cut. Therefore, she’ll probably seek to remain at bantamweight, where the pickings are slim and one or two more victories could put her in line for a title shot under the Invicta banner.

One promising fight for Evinger could come against Tara LaRosa. LaRosa is on a two-fight losing streak, but she put on a competitive fight with Rin Nakai in Japan. Nakai only edged LaRosa via majority decision. LaRosa’s other recent loss came in a flyweight fight with Vanessa Porto.

This fight could give one of these two longtime veterans of the sport a chance to spark a run at the Invicta bantamweight crown, and it stands as the perfect type of fight for a promotion that benefits from its fans’ appreciation of the fighters who helped to build the women’s side of the sport.

Nina Ansaroff vs. Michelle Ould

Nina Ansaroff scored the only non-injury stoppage of Invicta FC 7 when she knocked out Munah Holland in the second round of the evening’s first fight. The 28-year-old flyweight started her career with a 1-3 mark, but she has now won five fights in a row and could quickly launch herself into contender status with another impressive showing.

That makes her the perfect opponent to welcome Michelle Ould to Invicta. Ould recently signed with the promotion. She’s had a long layoff and could use a fight or two before she enters into the title mix. With a 7-3 career record, Ould has a similar level of experience to Ansaroff.

The winner of this fight would advance to within striking distance of a title shot in the shallow 125-pound division.

Photo: Barb Honchak (Jeff Vulgamore/The MMA Corner)