Just three months after its first world championship bout, women’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Invicta Fighting Championships will return to Memorial Hall in Kansas City and crown a champion in its strawweight (115 pounds) division after undefeated sensation Claudia Gadelha (9-0) of Mossoro, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil battles streaking star Carla Esparza (8-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. for the title in the main event of a 12-bout fight card on Saturday, Jan. 5.
In the bantamweight (135 pounds) co-main event, crowd-pleasing submission ace Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (15-7) of Sioux Falls, S.D. will go to war with fellow top-ranked star Alexis Davis (12-5) of Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada.
Tickets, priced from $25, for the Invicta FC 4: Gadelha vs. Esparza women’s MMA event, go on sale Monday, Nov. 26 at Memorial Hall box office (913-549-4853), online at Ticketmaster.com and InvictaFC.com and by phone at 800-745-3000.
Following her second round (2:19) TKO (punches) of Kaitlin Young at Invicta FC 3 on Oct. 6, Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith (4-2-1) of Pleasant Hill, Calif. will return to action to face a bantamweight opponent to be determined.
Power-punching KO artist Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (7-2) of Salvador Bahia, Brazil will take on submission specialist Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (6-3) of San Jose, Calif. at bantamweight.
JEWELS star Hiroko Yamanaka (12-2) of Kisarazu, Japan will battle Invicta FC 3 winner Ediane Gomes (8-2) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in a featherweight (145 pounds) contest.
In the event’s opening main card bout, undefeated Joanne Calderwood (4-0) of Glasgow, Scotland will square off with Invicta FC newcomer Bec Hyatt (4-1) of Brisbane, Australia at strawweight.
After scoring her second consecutive, five-second KO on July 8, Veronica Rothenhausler (0-0) of Reno, Nev. will make her much-anticipated professional debut on the Invicta FC 4 undercard against fellow heavy-handed featherweight competitor Katalina Malungahu (2-1) of Las Vegas, Nev.
Claudia Gadelha vs. Carla Esparza
Just 23 years old, Gadelha boasts three world championships and seven national titles in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition and has submitted seven of her first nine professional MMA opponents. An injury kept the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt sidelined for the entirety of 2011 but, on April 20, she returned to action, earning a unanimous decision win over Valerie Letorneau in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Gadelha returned to her homeland and scored a first round (1:35) TKO (punches) on Adriana Vieira on Sept. 21.
The 25-year-old Esparza has been gaining momentum, winning her last three fights. Her last two victories – a second round (4:28) TKO (punches) of Sarah Schneider and a first round (2:53) TKO (punches) of Lynn Alvarez – came inside the Invicta FC cage on July 28 and Oct. 6, respectively. To date, three of Esparza’s professional wins have come by way of (T)KO and three by way of submission.
Shayna Baszler vs. Alexis Davis
The 32-year-old Baszler lit up Memorial Hall for the second time on an Invicta FC show on Oct. 6, outworking D’Alelio on the ground and securing a rear-naked choke that forced D’Alelio to tap out at the :37 mark of the second round of their matchup. A fearsome grappler, Baszler has earned the respect of the fight world by earning 14 of her 15 victories with submissions, including her patented hold that she dubbed the “shwing.”
Davis, a 28-year-old black belt in both Japanese Jujutsu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, has been ranked as high as the No. 3 bantamweight female fighter in the world by the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings. In her last effort at Invicta FC 2 on July 28, Davis submitted Japanese star Hitomi Akano with a rear-naked choke in the second round (3:41) of their matchup
Amanda Nunes vs. Sarah D’Alelio
Since making her pro debut in March 2008, Nunes has established a reputation as a ferocious power-puncher. The 24-year-old, who began her boxing training at age 16, exploded onto the national MMA scene in The U.S. on Jan. 7, 2011, demolishing Julia Budd with a barrage of punches just 14 seconds into their live, Showtime-televised fight. Nunes made her Invicta FC debut on July 28, submitting Raquel Pa’aluhi with a rear-naked choke in the first round (2:24) of their bout.
D’Alelio has competed on all three Invicta FC cards, thus far. The 31-year-old submission ace, who has earned five of her six wins by way of submission and the sixth by TKO, will look to return to the win column after a valiant performance against Baszler. D’Alelio forced Vanessa Mariscal to tap out from a barrage of punches in the second round (3:19) of their meeting at the historic, first Invicta FC event on April 28, and tapped out Vanessa Porto with a rear-naked choke in the first round (3:16) of their Invicta FC 2 bout.
Hiroko Yamanaka vs. Ediane Gomes
Nicknamed “Incomplete Queen” and “Cat’s Eye,” Yamanaka, is a former open weight champion in Japan’s now-defunct Smackgirl MMA promotion and the No. 7 ranked featherweight according to the Unified Women’s Mixed Martial Arts Rankings. The 34-year-old Muay Thai and submission grappling specialist, put together an eight-fight win streak between Nov. 2008 and July. 2011, and emerged a star in Japanese promotion JEWELS during that span.
Gomes is a 31-year-old submission expert and member of vaunted South Fla.-based fight squad American Top Team. Hardened in her native Brazil where amateur level competition is non-existent, Gomes was victorious in her first five professional fights – four by way of armbar submission and one via TKO (punches). At Invicta FC on Oct. 6, she forced the highly-touted Malungahu to tap out from a rear-naked choke in the first round (4:19) of their undercard bout.
Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Hyatt
Calderwood is an explosive, 26-year-old national Muay Thai champion in Scotland, who has successfully transitioned to the sport of MMA by going unbeaten in her first four pro starts. On Oct. 6, she reeled off her fourth victory at Invicta FC 3, KO’ing Ashley Cummins with a brutal knee strike to the body in the first round (3:13) of their matchup. Calderwood’s performance earned her “KO of the Night” honors from the promotion.
Since suffering a defeat in her pro debut on Oct. 15, 2011, the 23-year-old Hyatt has been on fire, winning four consecutive fights. In her last start on Oct. 20, Hyatt, the first Australian competitor to sign with Invicta FC, finished Christina Nicole Tatnell just 37 seconds into their matchup with a flurry of punches.
The six-bout preliminary card will be capped off with an atomweight (105 pounds) matchup between Stephanie Frausto (4-4) of Cincinnati, Ohio and Cassie Rodish (3-3) of Des Moines, Iowa.
Unbeaten Tamikka Brents (1-0) of Springfield, Illin. will take on Amanda Bell (0-0) of Medford, Ore. at featherweight.
Jodie Esquibel (2-0) of Albuquerque, N.M. and Liz McCarthy (1-0) of Tigard, Ore. will square off at atomweight.
Emily Kagan (2-0) of Albuquerque, N.M. will put her undefeated record on the line against Rose Namajunas (0-0) of Milwaukee, Wis. In a strawweight matchup.
Paige Van Zant (2-0) of Sparks, Nev. will face off with Tecia Torres (1-0) of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. at strawweight.