Invicta FC 43: Ducote vs. Conejo Fight Card Preview

On Friday, Nov. 20, Invicta Fighting Championships returns to action with its 43rd event from Kansas City, Kan. The event will air live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. CT. Let’s take a deeper look at the night’s fight card.

Strawweight Title: Emily Ducote vs. Montserrat “Conejo” Ruiz

The main event will have a vacant title on the line, as former Bellator MMA and Invicta title challenger Emily Ducote looks to take out Mexican star Montserrat Ruiz for the strawweight championship.

Ducote enters this title fight with experience fighting for a belt. She has challenged for the Bellator flyweight championship and Invicta strawweight championship, but fell short in both conquest. That said, the BJJ brown belt is well-rounded and tough as nails. Ducote is comfortable wherever the fight takes place. She did pick up her most recent win at Invicta FC 40, where she bested UFC veteran Juliana Lima on the scorecards. That win earned her this shot at the title.

Across from Ducote is Ruiz, a wrestler and ground fighter who has tasted defeat just once in her career. Possessing a strong submission game, Ruiz proved to the world that she was ready for this title shot in her most recent outing, a scarfhold keylock of Janaisa Morandin. This is her first shot at a major MMA championship.

Who will hold the belt come fight night? Will Ducote finally break through and win a major MMA belt, or will Ruiz add Ducote to her growing highlight reel, nabbing the title in the process?

Featherweight: Courtney King vs. Kayla Harrison

Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison is looking to make a successful debut at 145 pounds in the co-main event, as the $1 million PFL lightweight tournament winner takes on Invicta vet Courtney King.

With PFL’s 2020 campaign canceled due to COVID-19, Harrison has been afforded an opportunity to test the waters at featherweight. The top prospect will look to repeat her success in the lighter weight class. Harrison is an absolute brute, as her physical strength is uncanny. Obviously, the gold medal judoka has excellent takedowns and grappling, as she controls her opponent from the top and tires them out. She throws big ground-and-pound and has a strong submission game as well.

King is the woman tasked with taking on Harrison and will bring it come fight night. She’s riding a three-fight surge, which includes two wins by submission. It’s unlikely that she’ll want to grapple with the decorated Harrison, but she is a capable striker. This is her first Invicta appearance since February of 2019, where she choked out Holli Salazar.

Will the Olympian secure a win going into PFL’s 2021 season and keep her undefeated record? Or will King derail the hype train and hand the highly regarded Harrison her first loss?

Flyweight: Stephanie Geltmacher vs. Caitlin Sammons

A pivotal flyweight bout could push forward a future title contender in the next bout, as top prospect Caitlin Sammons steps in on late notice to take on the scrappy Stephanie Geltmacher. Sammons steps in for Trisha Cicero, who was forced off the event.

Geltmacher is a four-time All-American collegiate wrestler, so she always enters the cage with an excellent base. That said, she’s Hawaiian also, so she has no problem getting into a barn-burning brawl. She’s very physically strong and has rag dolled opponents in the past. Geltmacher is coming into this fight off her only career loss to Victoria Leonardo, which was an fan-friendly fight to say the least.

As for Sammons, the BJJ black belt has been dominant in her three career pro fights, all of which have come under the Invicta banner. She has a knockout, submission and decision on her record against Christina Adcock, Chantel Coates and Claire Guthrie, respectively. She also had quite the successful amateur career. Sammons is very aggressive in terms of trying to force a ground battle, and once the fight gets there, she dominates.

In this battle of prospects, who will come out on top? Will Sammons keep her perfect record intact, or will Geltmacher get back into the win column and put her name amongst the top contenders of Invicta’s 125-pound division?

Bantamweight: Brittney Cloudy vs. Hope Chase

A late addition to the card has been made and it will be in the bantamweight division, as Brittney Cloudy makes her return to Invicta against Hope Chase.

Cloudy is a former collegiate track athlete who successfully transitioned to a pro MMA career. She was supposed to fight at Invicta 42, but her fight was scrapped before fight night. Cloudy is a strong striker and is a Golden Gloves champion as an amateur boxer. After a great amateur career, she has shown to be a solid prospect, possessing technical, powerful boxing and an underrated submission game. Her only two losses came via split decision in bouts that could have easily gone her way. This is her first Invicta fight since her pro debut in 2018 against top Invicta flyweight Erin Blanchfield.

Across from Cloudy is Chase, a 21-year-old prospect with a bright future in the sport. She has a karate and boxing background, so look out for Chase’s skills on the feet. She enters this fight after a semifinal finish in the Invicta Phoenix Series tournament, where she bested Julia Ottolino before falling to eventual tournament winner Taneisha Tennant. Prior to the tournament, she was on a two-fight winning streak.

In a division clamoring for talent and contenders, every win matters. Will Cloudy make a triumphant return to the organization where she made her pro debut, or will Chase notch the biggest win of her career?

Strawweight: Alexa Culp vs. Meaghan Penning

After making a successful pro debut in her last fight, Alexa Culp looks to score her second win when she welcomes Meghan Penning to Invicta in the latter’s first professional fight.

Culp is part of a strong stable of female fighters at Glory MMA & Fitness in Kansas, so it comes as no shock that the 20-year-old fighter has shown such promise. She went undefeated as an amateur before turning pro in her most recent bout. In her pro debut under the Invicta banner, Culp choked out Natalya Speece, showing off high grappling skills for a BJJ blue belt.

As for Penning, she is similarly a BJJ blue belt with a knack for finishing fights. She has never gone to a judges’ scorecards in her five-fight amateur career, scoring two knockouts and two submissions — while falling via submission in her lone loss. Penning is aggressive and exciting, and hopes to make a name for herself with Invicta fans while making her pro debut.

Will the 20-year-old James Krause protégé keep with her winning ways? Or, will Penning score a massive win in her pro debut, establishing herself as an up-and-coming strawweight to watch?

Flyweight: Juliana Miller vs. Kendal Holowell

A pair of newcomers to Invicta are set to meet in the flyweight division, as Kendal Holowell makes her professional MMA debut against one-fight pro Juliana Miller.

Miller is undefeated as an amateur and a pro, so she’s never tasted defeat in a mixed martial arts contest. She’s a BJJ purple belt that regularly competes in high-level grappling tournaments, showing how solid her ground game is. Miller will look for takedowns early and often, so she can show off those grappling chops in an attempt to score the finish.

Holowell makes her pro debut after a 7-1 run as an amateur. She is a blue belt in BJJ, meaning she likely is giving up some skill on that mat with Miller. That said, she’s got solid striking as well, which she will look to employ in this bout. Holowell is making her debut after the biggest win of her amateur career, a unanimous decision victory over Cara Greenwell.

This is a battle of prospects looking to gain notoriety in this fight. Does Miller make it two wins in two fights as a pro, or does Holowell make a successful debut?

This piece is a special contribution from Riley Kontek, a veteran combat sports writer whose work has appeared on Bleacher Report MMA, Combat Press and the MMA Intel Blog. You can follow Riley on Twitter.

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