DENVER — On Wednesday, May 3, Invicta Fighting Championships returned to the Mile High City, hosting Invicta FC 53: DeCoursey vs. Dos Santos from ReelWorks Denver.
Rayanne dos Santos is now the third Brazilian fighter to hold the atomweight title, after dethroning Jillian DeCoursey over five, hard-fought rounds. Both fighters flicked their jab early to gauge range. A head kick attempt from DeCoursey caught the gloves of the evading Brazilian. A counter left from dos Santos found the mark and DeCoursey retreated. A flurry from dos Santos finished with a slapping leg kick. The speed of dos Santos was apparent in the exchanges, but DeCoursey was undeterred. A looping right hand from DeCoursey allowed dos Santos to drop levels and drive into a takedown. It was short lived as DeCoursey sprung to her feet and pinned dos Santos against the fence. DeCoursey locked her hands for a double-leg and dumped dos Santos to the mat, but was forced to defend a guillotine attempt as the round came to a conclusion. DeCoursey began round two with a straight right hand and drove dos Santos to the fence. Dos Santos spun DeCoursey and dropped for a takedown, only for DeCoursey to hit a switch. After jostling in the clinch, the pair separated to reveal a cut above the left brow of DeCoursey. A massive left hand stunned DeCoursey and dos Santos followed with a pair of rights. DeCoursey instinctively dove for a takedown, which dos Santos stuffed. The Brazilian moved to top position along the fence and punished DeCoursey from half guard. Dos Santos scrambled to the back of DeCoursey as the frame expired. Confidence oozed from dos Santos to start the third round. She marched forward and kept DeCoursey on the back foot. DeCoursey remained composed and looked for openings. Dos Santos tried to flurry against the cage for a second time, but DeCoursey defended well. DeCoursey opened up her kicking arsenal and began to frustrate the Brazilian. The momentum shift was obvious to start the fourth as it was DeCoursey coming forward. Dos Santos answered with an overhand right to keep DeCoursey honest. A deep single-leg attempt from DeCoursey was unsuccessful, as dos Santos scrambled to her back. As DeCoursey tried to escape, dos Santos moved to half guard. She finished the round on DeCoursey’s back. Dos Santos flicked her jab to start round five and then marched right through a head kick attempt from DeCoursey. She flurried along the cage as she kept her foot on the gas. DeCoursey fired punches, hoping to secure a comeback. Dos Santos did not give her the opportunity, calmly throwing combinations at range. A late head kick from DeCoursey clipped dos Santos, but it was too little, too late for the American. Dos Santos celebrated wildly as the final horn sounded. The result was not in question as the scorecards were read, giving dos Santos the title.
Bantamweights Olga Rubin and Claire Guthrie fought hard to establish themselves as the No. 1 contender in the night’s co-main event. Rubin came out firing a variety of strikes. Guthrie closed the distance and looked to muscle the fight to the ground. As Rubin separated, Guthrie rushed back to a single-leg attempt against the fence. From striking range, Guthrie connected with a heavy body kick. Her repeated level changes appeared to frustrate Rubin. Another body kick from Guthrie landed as Rubin walked forward. Guthrie was active from the clinch with short knees and punches. Rubin opened round two with a takedown attempt but was unsuccessful. Guthrie returned to the clinch and continued to score with volume. The heavy clinch work slowed the output from Rubin. Guthrie moved to Rubin’s back for a moment, but she couldn’t keep the fight on the ground. Rubin showcased great balance to stay on her feet, but she eventually landed on her back after a failed trip attempt. From her back, Rubin went straight to work, slapping on a buggy choke. Guthrie fought hard to escape, but ultimately succumbed to the submission. Rubin’s second-round finish was the first buggy choke in Invicta history.
Former atomweight champion Jéssica Delboni moved up in weight to take on former strawweight title challenger Danielle Taylor. The pair gauged range with low kicks to start the contest. A stiff left hook from Delboni clipped Taylor clean. A lead hook from Taylor found the jaw of Delboni and slowed her march for a moment. The pair clinched and exchanged short knees before separating. The Brazilian Delboni switched her attack to the legs of Taylor, landing both inside and outside of the thigh. A strong jab from Taylor popped the head of Delboni. A late trade of punches closed out the frame. From the southpaw stance, Delboni kicked the body of Taylor in round two. The inside leg kick of Delboni landed at will and kept Taylor moving away from range. The jab of Taylor was her most effective weapon, but she struggled to match the volume of the Brazilian. Taylor countered the low kicks with ones of her own. A clean left hook from Taylor caught Delboni clean to close the middle frame. Delboni’s forward pressure did not stop in the final five minutes. She walked through the punches of Taylor and fired ones of her own. The corner of Taylor implored her to move forward, which nearly resulted in the fight’s first takedown. Delboni settled for the clinch before separating to the middle of the cage. Both fighters threw until the final bell, but it was Delboni who took home the unanimous decision.
Brazil’s Monique Adriane spoiled the perfect record of previously unbeaten Mexican Nicole Geraldo in an atomweight clash. After a brief feeling-out process to gauge their range, Geraldo delivered a body kick. Adriane responded with a double jab. A leg kick from Geraldo was countered with a right hook from the Brazilian. Geraldo drew a reaction from the crowd with a spinning backfist, but it only found the arm of Adriane. A combination from Adriane landed and put Geraldo on her back foot for a moment. The Mexico product landed an overhand right to slow Adriane’s advance. A body kick from Geraldo found Adriane’s midsection late in the round. The pair went straight back to boxing range in round two. Adriane continued to find success with her counterstrikes. The right hand of Geraldo snuck through the Brazilian’s guard on multiple occasions to keep the fight close. Adriane fired a combination from the pocket that backed up Geraldo. The Mexican again looked for a spinning attack, but the Adriane was wise to it and evaded. A takedown attempt from Geraldo was stuffed by Adriane. The left eye of Geraldo swelled from the punches of Adriane as the fight progressed. The fight’s final frame featured an increase in Geraldo’s kick output. Adriane matched it with punches flush to the damaged eye of the Mexican. A deep shot from Geraldo nearly brought the contest to the mat for the first time, but it was Adriane who scrambled to take the back and apply a rear-naked choke. Geraldo fought hard to avoid the finish, but could not escape the perilous position. The judges were called upon to render a verdict, but there was no doubt as Adriane swept the scorecards.
The third bout of the night featured veteran flyweights Elise Pone and Liana Pirosin. The American Pone fired multiple heads kick prompting Pirosin to secure a body lock and drive the fight to the fence. Pone looked to toss the Brazilian but ended up on her back. Pirosin quickly attacked with an armbar and then took Pone’s back. Pone fought the hands of Pirosin, but was caught in a body triangle and could not escape the position. Pone began the second round with a purpose, scoring with strikes. Pirosin countered with a throw along the cage, but this time Pone was able to work back to her feet. Pone delivered elbows from the clinch. The nose of Pirosin began to bleed from the onslaught. Pirosin worked hard for a trip, but Pone kept the fight upright. After an exchange of head kicks, Pone initiated the clinch and landed more strikes. Pone landed with clinch combinations in the third round. Pirosin broke free to striking range, but absorbed more punishment in the process. Pirosin spun Pone to the cage before the American returned the favor. Pirosin changed levels for a double but Pone shrugged her off. Pirosin drove forward into the clinch but Pone inflicted more and more damage. The fight was sent to the scorecards and it was Pone who walked away with victor.
Brazilian atomweight Lili Ferreira welcomed Mexico’s Flor Hernandez to the Invicta cage in the second contest of the evening. A stiff jab from Hernandez was answered by a flurry from Ferreira. Hernandez pressed forward, eating looping hooks from Ferreira. From the clinch, Ferreira worked hard for a trip from double underhooks. She softened up Hernandez with knees to the body before dragging her to the ground. Ferreira quickly took the back of Hernandez and secured a body triangle. Hernandez rolled to her stomach, but Ferreira held the position. A powerful push from Hernandez spun her into the full guard of Ferreira. Hernandez dropped a series of punches from top position to close the frame. There was significant swelling under the left eye of Hernandez to start the second round. Ferreira connected with a heavy kick to the liver of Hernandez and drove into a takedown. Hernandez tried to tie up the arms of the Brazilian and was slammed to the canvas. The fight returned to the feet and Ferreira again attacked the midsection. A kick from Hernandez was caught by Ferreira and she cracked Hernandez with punches. Another heavy body kick from Ferreira found its mark to end the round. The final stanza opened with more forward pressure from Hernandez, but Ferreira was able to counter with punches. A head kick from Hernandez brushed the face of Ferreira and was followed by a right hook. The aggression of Hernandez worked against her later in the round as Ferreira ducked under her punches and took her to the ground. Ferreira pinned Hernandez against the fence and stayed heavy from top position. The fight would goes the distance and Ferreira captured the decision victory.
A flyweight clash between Ky Bennett and Kendal Holowell opened the night’s action. The pair wasted little time engaging with strikes. Holowell missed with a spinning backfist and Bennett flurried forward with punches. In the clinch, Bennett connected with multiple elbows. Holowell spun the fight to the fence, but absorbed a huge knee to her midsection. More elbows followed from Bennett as Holowell tried to recover from the body strike. Holowell latched onto a single along the fence before switching to a double and lifting Bennett to the mat. Bennett rained elbows to the side of Holowell’s head. A scramble saw Holowell take Bennett’s back and apply a body triangle. She worked for choke, but gave up position while transitioning for a triangle attempt. Bennett sprung to her feet and then earned a takedown of her own. She dropped punches from back mount to close the round. Bennett was the aggressor to start round two, marching forward with strikes. She continued to punish Holowell in the clinch with elbows. Holowell looked for a takedown, but Bennett stuffed it and delivered knees to the body. Bennett was relentless with elbows, keeping Holowell from mounting offense and driving her to the mat. A steady stream of right hands from Bennett forced the referee to intervene and halt the contest, giving her the TKO victory.
Rayanne dos Santos def. Jillian DeCoursey by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 48-47) – for atomweight title
Olga Rubin def. Claire Guthrie by submission (buggy choke). Round 2, 4:23
Jéssica Delboni def. Danielle Taylor by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Monique Adriane def. Nicole Geraldo by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Elise Pone def. Liana Pirosin by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Elisandra “Lili” Ferreira def. Flor Hernandez by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Ky Bennett def. Kendal Holowell by TKO (punches). Round 2, 4:04
About Invicta FC:
Invicta Fighting Championships (invictafc.com) is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (InvictaFights) and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.
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