Photo via Invicta FC
On Saturday, November 1, Invicta FC will broadcast Invicta FC 9, their second show under the UFC’s Fight Pass banner.
The move from the company’s successful i-PPV promotions to the UFC’s paid subscription service is mutually beneficial, as the UFC will potentially receive subscriptions from those who want to watch the live Invicta FC events, while Invicta FC is broadcasted and advertised to a larger mixed martial arts fan base than they could have ever achieved on their own.
Leading the charge in Invicta FC’s new generation is 9-2 Barb Honchak, of St. Louis, Missouri. She’s been left with the unenviable (or perhaps, enviable) task of being the flag bearer of the promotion moving forward. With strawweight champion Carla Esparza jumping to the UFC to join The Ultimate Fighter 20 and bantamweight champion Lauren Murphy also joining the UFC’s ranks, Invicta FC is left without many of the stars they built their brand around.
While well-known faces like Felice Herrig, Jessica Penne, Shayna Baszler, Alexis Davis and Sara McMann all graduated to the UFC, fighters like Michelle Waterson and Barb Honchak are left to carry the weight.
Waterson headlined Invicta FC 8, successfully defending her championship, and now it’s Honchak’s turn to follow suit. Her opponent will be tough Japanese veteran, Takayo Hashi.
The “Little Warrior,” Honchak has quietly put together one of the more impressive resumes on the roster, defeating the likes of Herrig, Roxanne Modafferi, Aisling Daly and Leslie Smith on her route to the top of the flyweight division. Her April, 2013 victory over Vanessa Porto won her the championship, a title she’s now held for a year and a half.
Hashi has become a gatekeeper of sorts in her career. After defeating 13 of her first 14 opponents, she made the transition to the United States, where things got a little more challenging. She lost three straight bouts to Sarah Kaufman, Tara LaRosa and Cat Zingano, but has rebounded going 2-0-1 in her last three. She’s as durable as any fighter on the roster, and is difficult to look good against. Her Strikeforce bout against Kaufman lasted the entire 25 minutes, despite Hashi being terribly undersized.
Now Hashi has settled into the division, where she’s clearly more comfortable. She’ll look to test Honchak’s cardio and ground game over 25 minutes.
The co-main event is in the re-emerging strawweight division. While much of the division was poached by the UFC’s adoption of a 115lb. division, the show must go on. Katja Kankaanpaa won the championship during the promotion’s September 2014 outing, submitting Stephanie Eggink with a dramatic fifth-round D’Arce choke.
The co-main event of Invicta FC 9 between Japan’s Mizuki Inoue and Poland’s Karolina Kowalkiewicz will likely determine the next challenger to Kankaanpaa’s strawweight world championship, meaning the winner will likely see a main-event opportunity in the near future.
Inoue proved tough in her July 2013 Invicta FC debut, defeating The Ultimate Fighter star Bec Rawlings over three rounds. Now she’ll return looking to use her submission prowess to defeat Kowalkiewicz.
While only five fights deep into her career, Kowalkiewicz has the makings of a star. She has become a phenomenon in Poland’s KSW promotion, defeating four fighters of increasing difficulty. With a win, it will likely set up an all European strawweight bout against Kankaanpaa down the road.
The post Ultimate Fighter 20 version of Invicta FC looks remarkably different, there’s no denying that. The stars have moved up, but that was the point of Invicta FC in the first place. President Shannon Knapp has always claimed that Invicta FC’s purpose was to give young female fighters the opportunity to perform in front of a bigger audience and gain the experience necessary to become stars in the sport.
The Ultimate Fighter 20 served as a graduation of sorts for the first class of Invicta FC students. Now, the second class is underway, and if Invicta FC 8 was any indication, they haven’t lost a step.
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