Invicta FC 9 Showcases WMMA’s Bright Future

Fightland Blog

By Shawn Smith

Photos via Invicta FC

Although any weekend without a UFC show is considered quiet, this past weekend was anything but, as Invicta FC put on their ninth—and second on UFC Fight Pass—show.

From the weigh-ins we knew things were going to be fun. Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp came out in a bald cap and an “I love Conor” shirt, referring to UFC President Dana White’s infatuation with rising featherweight fighter Conor McGregor. Along with her, matchmaker and commentator Julie Kedzie came out with a dark haired wig and goatee, poking fun at UFC matchmaker Joe Silva. 

The mood was much more serious come Saturday night, as Invicta FC 9 kicked off. 

While the UFC began their emergence into the world of women’s mixed martial arts, young promotions like Invicta FC provided all the talent. Both the 135 pound, and most recently, the 115 pound UFC women’s divisions are filled with talents that once filled out the Invicta FC roster. 

Athletes like Liz Carmouche, Sarah Kaufman, Sara McMann and Alexis Davis, as well as many of the emerging stars from the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter 20—Carla Esparza, Rose Namajunas, Jessica Penne, Joanne Calderwood and Felice Herrig—filled out the early Invicta FC shows. 

And now with most of their star power having graduated to the sport’s biggest stage, Invicta FC is left with the task of reinventing itself and reemerging as a breeding ground for young, rising ladies in a sport where it can be difficult to find proper, career-building fights. 

It was the promotion’s first venture out of their Kansas City home, as they travelled to Davenport, Iowa—a new city for a new beginning. 

Leading the charge was Militech-trained Barb Honchak, one of the new faces of the promotion. In her third five-round performance in a row, the smothering Honchak stifled Takayo Hashi’s game en route to a unanimous decision victory. 

It wasn’t pretty, but Honchak showed an improved skillset and will continue on to further develop in the promotion.

In the co-main event, Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz narrowly took a split decision over 20-year-old Japanese sensation Mizuki Inoue. The fight was a defining example of how far women’s mixed martial arts have evolved in the past 15 years. These two young athletes showed the poise and talent displayed only in athletes with a vast amount of experience. From the basics of a jab to their ability to use movement and put together combinations, the two fighters showed that the future of women’s combat sports is bright. 

Many of the subtleties these two showed represent a vast improvement over the mixed martial artists of years’ past. These two will be within the few to lead the next generation of combat sports.

What was on display throughout Invicta FC 9 was the kind of hunger that is often apparent in young fighters. Many of those who filled out the event’s preliminary bouts haven’t yet developed the skills necessary to headline, but they showed heart and dedication which can be built upon. 

With the stars having been purged by the UFC, Invicta FC went back to its roots and will continue to do so in the years to come. Growing pains are an inevitability of any promotion’s evolution, and it’s clear that Invicta FC is in a transition period. 

With Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (formerly Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos) being injured, Invicta FC will go back to Michelle Waterson to headline the next event. On December 10, Waterson will defend her atomweight world championship against Brazilian Herica Tiburcio.



Check out these related stories:

Invicta's Flyweight Champion Barb Honchak on Facing Takayo Hashi

Walkout Wishlist: Invicta FC 9

The Dawn of a New Invicta FC

Women's Mixed Martial Arts is the Wild West