Invicta FC 9 Results: Honchak Retains Title, Kowalkiewicz Edges Inoue

On Saturday, Nov. 1, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted Invicta FC 9: Honchak vs. Hashi from the RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa. The nine-fight event streamed live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

In the night’s main event, Invicta flyweight champion Barb Honchak successfully defended her 125-pound title with a hard-fought decision win over Japan’s Takayo Hashi. Honchak’s strategy from the very beginning was to force Hashi against the fence and grind her out. Honchak was able to impose her will on the challenger and score with short punches and knees from the clinch. Hashi earned takedowns late in the third and fourth rounds, but she was unable to hold the champion on the ground. Honchak let her hands go late in the fifth frame, leaving no doubt who had won the contest.

The night’s co-main event featured the Invicta return of Japanese strawweight Mizuki Inoue, who welcomed unbeaten Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz to the Invicta cage. Kowalkiewicz used her length to keep Inoue at range during the first round, scoring with combinations and leg kicks. In the middle stanza, Inoue was able to score with a hip toss and put Kowalkiewicz on her back. Kowalkiewicz was able to survive the tough position and the round. The final frame saw Kowalkiewicz return to landing on the feet, but Inoue fired back. When it was all said and done, Kowalkiewicz claimed the narrow split decision win.

Stepping into the cage on just a week’s notice, Hawaii’s Raquel Pa’aluhi survived a tough first round and earned the nod over Kaitlin Young on the scorecards. Young battered Pa’aluhi in the opening frame, opening up multiple cuts on the Hawaiian’s face. Pa’aluhi bounced back in rounds two and three with takedowns. Pa’aluhi threatened to finish the fight with a rear-naked choke and strikes, but Young was able to survive to the final bell.

Jodie Esquibel put together one of the best performances of her career, outstriking Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc and earning a lopsided, unanimous decision win. Esquibel used her speed and footwork to land combination after combination and frustrate Rivera-Calanoc. The Jackson’s MMA fighter mixed in takedowns and survived a late guillotine attempt from Rivera-Calanoc to claim the victory.

Atomweights Amber Brown and Liz McCarthy engaged in a back-and-forth war that saw Brown eke out the win via split decision. McCarthy repeatedly took the fight to the ground with her wrestling, but Brown landed the more effective strikes. A knee from Brown opened a large cut over McCarthy’s right eye in round two, leading to a bloody affair.

Amanda Bell returned to the Invicta cage and scored a first-round TKO over promotional newcomer Maria Hougaard-Djursaa. Bell came out firing and overwhelmed the Danish fighter. Once on the mat, Bell rained punches and forced the referee to halt the bout late in the opening stanza.

Veteran striker Andrea K. Lee used her stand-up game to get the better of fellow flyweight Shannon Sinn. Lee dropped Sinn early and battered her throughout the remainder of the contest to take home the win on the scorecards.

Strawweight Jamie Moyle scored an impressive decision win in her pro debut, battering Jenny Liou Shriver for three rounds. Shriver had no answer for Moyle’s striking and suffered her first career loss.

Kelly McGill spoiled the pro debut of Maegan Goodwin in the first fight of the evening. The bloody affair saw McGill open up Goodwin with an elbow, helping her seal the decision win and move to 2-0.


Barb Honchak def. Takayo Hashi by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45) – for flyweight title
Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Mizuki Inoue by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Raquel Pa’aluhi def. Kaitlin Young by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Jodie Esquibel def. Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Amber Brown def. Liz McCarthy by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Amanda Bell def. Maria Hougaard-Djursaa by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:56
Andrea K. Lee def. Shannon Sinn by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Jamie Moyle def. Jenny Liou Shriver by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Kelly McGill def. Maegan Goodwin by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Fighting Words: Barb Honchak

Fighting before a hometown crowd for the first time in her career, Invicta FC Flyweight Champion Barb Honchak looks to defend her title for a second time. Her Invicta FC 9 challenger; Japan’s Takayo Hashi.



Corey Smith: November 1st will mark the fifth time you have fought for Invicta FC, making you one of the longest tenured athletes in the promotion. Are your comfortable being one of the most well known Invicta FC athletes? How has your relationship been with the company?

Barb Honchak: InvictaFC has been good to me.  They are always accessible to their athletes and have always been honest and upfront with me.



CS: What were your thoughts when you first learned of the Inivcta FightPass deal?

BH: Job Security!  I had faith in InvictaFC’s longevity from the beginning, but the hiatus over the last year was a little unnerving.



CS: The UFC now has two female weight divisions, below and above your current weight class. Have you given any thought to potentially fighting for the UFC?

BH: Yes, I have thought about fighting for the UFC.  I think any and all fighters look for that opportunity.  I would certainly consider an offer from the UFC.



CS: You have a degree in Molecular Biology, along with a Masters degree in Ecology and Genetics. What job does one utilize those degrees in?

BH: The last job I held utilizing my degree was as a laboratory manager at Washington University in St. Louis.  I have held several positions as a lab technician.   The degrees are wide reaching in that the skills I acquired allowed me to have options of working in natural science or medical science.



CS: Your fighting career is very unique for the science field. Are your colleagues aware of your fighting career? What type of feedback do you receive from them?

BH: I no longer work in the field.  But when I did, I certainly had some awkward weeks trying to explain my black eyes, cuts or staph infections to people.   I got pretty talented with my makeup application but of course I had many mixed reactions regarding my injuries.  I initially did not tell anyone what I did, but as the injuries built up; more and more people became privy to what I did outside of the University.



CS: This will be the first time you fight before what will essentially be a hometown crowd. What advantages do you believe that brings? Any disadvantages?

BH: So far, I see no disadvantages.  I feel like my hometown crowd will provide amazing and exciting energy for me during the fight. I can cook in my own kitchen for my entire weight cut and will not have to find dog sitters!  I am very excited that after the fight, I will be sleeping in my own bed and will have no airport time to make the next morning.



CS: Your opponent on November 1st. Takayo Hashi, has won titles in two Japanese promotions, along with challenging for the Strikeforce title. Do you believe her championship experience will add to her in ring skills?

BH: Yes, having experience of championship rounds and how you perform during those rounds is an advantage that I am not sure all of my opponents have had.  She has been there so there is less fear of it for her.



CS: Backstage before your bout, how would you describe your mindest? We see some fighters quiet and nervous until they are in the cage, while others are loud and boisterous the entire night.

BH: Every fight is different, but I am usually pretty relaxed and quiet.



CS: What types of activities do you enjoy to help you recharge or keep focus during training camp?

BH: I like joking around with my friends and team but mostly I am a homebody and enjoy time with my husband and pets.



CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?

BH: I have so many great teammates at MFS and could not be where I am with out them.  My coach Junior Hernandez gets the most credit for my success along with Josh Howatt, Pat Miletich, Nate Schroeder and Jens Pulver.


Invicta FC 9 takes place November 1st live from the  RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa.

Tickets are on sale via the Ticketmaster link below.

The full card will air live via UFC Fight PassClick below to subscribe to UFC FightPass.










Barb Honchak: A Champion’s Legacy

Ascending to the top of one’s sport is no easy task. For a select few, natural talent provides a shortcut to the upper echelon, but it’s hard work that defines champions.

Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak is the embodiment of the sacrifice and dedication it takes to stand atop the world.

Most fighters have spent years in the wrestling room or competing in a traditional martial art before they ever consider stepping into a cage, but not all of them.

“I was never a super athletic person. I wasn’t the all-star in high school. I wasn’t anything like that,” admitted Honchak. “It was just hard work and grinding that has gotten me here. There’s no magic pill. There’s nothing special or unique about me that got me where I am. I want people to know that anybody can be here if they’re willing to make the sacrifices and willing to put the work in. You can be a champion in your sport.”

Honchak’s assessment of what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the sport may appear understated, but her path to the top of the flyweight ranks has been anything but typical. Most fighters do their best to avoid distractions leading up to their fights, yet Honchak’s resume includes fighting just one week prior to getting married.

“Not only was it the week before my wedding, but it was the first fight I ever did,” recalled the 35-year-old. “The only thing that was kind of rough was that I didn’t tell anybody that I was fighting. My husband knew—or fiancé at the time—but my mom didn’t know, nobody else knew.

“I was pretty unscathed for my wedding. [My opponent] poked me in the eye and my eyeball was still red during the wedding. When I was putting makeup on, my mom saw the spot in my eye and asked me what happened. At the time, I knew she would not take it well. So I told her I’d tell her after the wedding.”

The Illinois native’s desire to keep her newfound passion a secret might come as a surprise to those familiar with her recent successes under the Invicta banner. However, at the time, Honchak was uncertain about even stepping into the cage.

“When I took that fight, it was just more of, can I do this? Can I get in a fight? I never knew. It kind of scared me and I wanted to know if I could,” explained the fighter. “That was the first fight I had ever been in, period. I’ve never been in a street fight or anything like that. I wasn’t the type of kid that said ‘Hey, you and me at the playground after school.’ I never did anything like that unless you count slapping fights with my sister when I was little.”

Honchak’s first foray into the world of MMA was a success, and her initial taste left her hungry for more.

“As soon as the fight was over, I looked at my coach and said, ‘When’s the next one?’” remembered Honchak. “I knew I wanted to do it again, but I had ZERO expectations about making it a career at that point. It was just a hobby.”

Nearly a decade ago, MMA—especially the women’s side of the sport—lacked stability. At the time, Honchak was putting her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and her master’s degrees in ecology and genetics to use at a regular job in St. Louis.

In her off time, Honchak trained under the tutelage of UFC veteran Steve Berger. It was under Berger’s wing that Honchak honed her skills on the grappling mat and picked up a moniker along the way.

“Steve’s a roofer and did construction type work throughout his life. He would bring guys in who were big and burly and have them roll with me,” said Honchak. “I would sub them and Steve would say, ‘She’s a little warrior.’ It was kind of a pet name at first, but it just stuck.”

The more time Honchak spent training and fighting, the more her hobby began spilling over into her day job. She faced a crossroads in her young career.

“I was working as a lab manager for Washington University in St. Louis. I had a great boss there. He would deal with me coming in with black eyes, cuts and staph infections, things like that. He was extremely accommodating,” stated Honchak.

“My husband was actually the one who really encouraged me to drop my job and try it full-time. I started so late in the game. I wasn’t getting any younger. It’s not like I had a ton of time to make a decision on it. He was constantly telling me, ‘If you don’t make a real run at it, you’re going to regret it.’ It started resonating in my own head that he’s right. It was terrifying to leave a solid position with a regular salary and health benefits, that security.”

Given the volatile nature of the women’s side of the sport at that point in time, Honchak’s decision to become a full-time fighter was even tougher.

“At the time, Invicta didn’t even exist. We watched promotion after promotion for women go under. It wasn’t a real smart move at the time to drop my good, secure job to try to fight,” said Honchak with a laugh. “I thought I’d give it a year and see where it went. That’s what we did and luckily Invicta came along.”

In the years before Honchak would join the Invicta roster, she faced a gauntlet of fights unlike what most fighters experience early in their career. Among her opponents were current or former UFC fighters Roxanne Modafferi, Nina Ansaroff, Felice Herrig and Angela Magana.

Yet, it wasn’t any of those notables that left the biggest impression on the fighter.

“I always go back to my fight against Cat Zingano. That fight will always be my most meaningful fight. It was a great fight. Cat’s a monster. She was by far the toughest fight,” declared Honchak of the current UFC bantamweight No. 1 contender.

“Up until Cat, it all felt like a sport. When I fought Cat, it felt like life and death. That is how she fights. That’s how she looks at it. She’s going to kill you if she can. Not only was that fight important in realizing what I had to do and changes I needed to make in my training, but she’s one of my best friends now. She’s become a critical person in my life. I learned so much about fighting, and the relationship I gained with her changed my fight career and me as a person completely.”

The bout with Zingano in early 2010 was the catalyst for numerous significant changes in Honchak’s life and career.

“When I started this, I didn’t know where exactly I was going with it. I was still working a full-time job at that point. I was still training like it was a hobby instead of a career. I don’t even think I’d put in a conditioning regime up until that point,” revealed the Little Warrior.

“It was after I fought Cat that I realized I either needed to drop to 115 [pounds] or start beefing up. Cat asked me to come out and be a training partner for her next fight. So I got to see how she did it. They introduced me to things like supplements and how taking your protein is important.

“It was an eye-opener. I started seeing it as a profession, not just a hobby. I saw how to train, how to do it right. Cat just fought; that’s all she did and that’s why she’s so good. It can be a career.”

The first major change for Honchak was to leave Missouri. Along with her husband, Timm, she headed to the Quad Cities and settled down to train at Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS) in Bettendorf, Iowa.

“My learning curve skyrocketed when I came over here,” declared Honchak. “There was a whole different knowledge base. Steve [Berger] had a lot to offer, but I got a whole different perspective on fighting once I came here.”

The new perspective was in large part due to the history surrounding the gym. In addition to the gym’s founder, Pat Miletich, MFS had produced a long list of top fighters through the years, including Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Tim Sylvia, Jeremy Horn and Robbie Lawler. Honchak now had a championship tradition to follow.

“Miletich was huge back in the day, but then it sort of fell off the planet for a while,” said Honchak. “Right around the time that I moved here, there were two men [Michael Reddish and Eli Shetler] who bought the gym and committed to bringing Miletich back, having champions, having fighters in the UFC. That was their whole goal.

“One of those men [Reddish], in the last year, died of cancer. But I got that belt before he left. So, for me, there was a huge emotional component to it. He not only got to see me get the belt, but he saw me defend it, too. I felt like I helped them bring their goals to light. They had a world champion in the gym again. That meant a lot to me to give him that.”

Capturing Invicta gold is something that Honchak hopes is just the tip of the iceberg for MFS. The environment has helped her climb to the top of the flyweight division, but she believes others will follow suit.

“We have some serious up-and-comers in the gym. They just need some fights to get their face out there. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the team is right behind me getting their titles and getting on the big shows,” she proclaimed. “Our coach, Junior [Hernandez], is so knowledgeable. We still have Pat in the gym helping people. Jens Pulver has recently come back and started coaching again. I’m watching our owners’ dream come to light and it’s pretty awesome. I think it’s just a matter of time before Miletich’s name is back in the mainstream of the MMA world and not as a commentator, but as a team.”

In addition to the knowledge base at her disposal, Honchak credits the gym for helping her find the competitive edge she once saw firsthand in Zingano.

“After I made the switch over to Pat’s gym, I got meaner! It made me meaner. Instead of worrying about hurting people, it was time to worry about finishing people. This whole team is meaner than my previous team.

“I’ve just gotten meaner and meaner—in the cage, not outside the cage,” she quipped with a laugh.

The mean streak that Honchak developed at MFS was instrumental in earning her a spot on the Invicta roster, as well as in her march to the top. After stopping Bethany Marshall at Invicta FC 2 with strikes and besting Aisling Daly at Invicta FC 3, Honchak was matched against Vanessa Porto for the promotion’s inaugural flyweight belt. Honchak cruised past the Brazilian to capture the title and then followed it up with a dominant win over Leslie Smith in December.

Riding an eight-fight winning streak and already established as the best in the world at 125 pounds, Honchak wants to keep it that way. In fact, she’s aiming to be an example for the other fighters in her weight class.

“I feel like I need to set the bar for ’25ers, and I want to set that bar pretty high,” she declared. “I have a bull’s eye on my back. I’m No. 1. I’ve got the title.

“I expect girls to come at me. That’s what I want. I want them to come up trying to take my head off. That’s their job. That’s what they should be doing. When girls are training, they’re looking at me as the person they need to be training for. If and when somebody takes that title from me, that girl’s going to be a monster.”

With so much on her shoulders, it would be easy for Honchak to crumble under the weight. Yet, the 35-year-old isn’t about to let that happen.

“Pressure is only what you let it be,” she explained. “The idea of pressure is something that people put on themselves. It’s something that people make in their own head; it’s not real.

“There are expectations of you, but they don’t really matter. The only expectations that matter are your own. To me, if you let everything else go, then the pressure’s not all that much. My team’s going to love me no matter what. My family’s going to love me no matter what. The people that matter to me are still going to be there when the smoke clears, regardless of the results. I really try to not let pressure be a factor. It’s not real unless I let it be real.

“I don’t feel a ton of pressure in any of my fights.”

The harness that Honchak has over pre-fight pressure is going to serve her well as she prepares for her second title defense on Saturday, Nov. 1, against Japan’s Takayo Hashi, live on UFC Fight Pass. For the first time in promotional history, Invicta will travel outside of its base in Kansas City and visit the River Center in Davenport, Iowa—just outside Honchak’s gym in Bettendorf.

“It’s pretty awesome!” an excited Honchak proclaimed. “I feel like the Quad Cities is such a historic, meaningful place [in MMA] being that Miletich started there and helped develop the sport. It’s historic since it’s the first place Invicta is going outside of Kansas City.

“I have a good feel for that venue and the area. I feel like my energy is already there. It’s a venue that our guys have fought in a ton of times. I’ve been there a lot. It’s going to be my crowd.”

Admittedly, Honchak wasn’t always excited by the idea of fighting in front of family and friends. It was just one of the hurdles she had to overcome in her fighting career.

“In my pro career, I’ve only fought in my hometown one other time,” explained the fighter. “As an amateur, I fought in Sullivan, Mo., which is an hour outside St. Louis, but it’s pretty rare that I’ve gotten to fight where I train and where I live.

“When I was younger in the sport, I wouldn’t tell anybody where I was fighting because I didn’t like the crowd. I didn’t want my mom to see me get punched in the face. So I used to not like to fight at home.

“The more I did it, the energy, the cheering, hearing familiar voices and it’s like, alright, I’ve got to go. Everybody I know is going to see, whether it’s on pay-per-view or some other way. Now I just take the positive part of it. It helps.”

With her dominant performances against Porto and Smith inside the Invicta cage, Honchak has already cemented herself as one of the best female fighters in the world. However, as she prepares to headline her second Invicta event in her hometown, she’s out to make a statement.

“I think it’s super exciting to be the main event on UFC Fight Pass. I want to put on an exciting fight so fans can see what we can do, what we are. I want to represent Invicta well and put on a show,” said the champion.

Honchak shouldn’t have much trouble achieving her goal of an exciting fight when she squares off with Hashi. The Japanese fighter has been in the cage with many of the sport’s elite, including the aforementioned Zingano and Modafferi, as well as Sarah Kaufman and Tara LaRosa. In 18 career fights, Zingano is one of only two women to stop Hashi.

“I did talk to Cat about Takayo and she told me she’s extremely resilient,” said Honchak. “[They had a] very tough fight. Cat hasn’t had too many fights go the distance, and they went into the third round. I’m expecting her to be tough.”

Given Honchak’s close relationship with Zingano and Zingano’s familiarity with Hashi in the cage, it would easy for Honchak to adjust her strategy for the fight, but she insists that’s not the case.

“I talked to Cat about what she thought of her, but I’m just going to go in there and fight another fight,” Honchak declared. “I don’t know that I really game-plan. I’m more worried about what I’m going to do to her, not what she’s going to do to me.

“I’ve heard champion and champion and champion say that they just train to make themselves better. I pretty much do the same thing. If you worry about them, then you worry about them. If you just worry about yourself, you execute what you want to do.”

Six of Honchak’s nine career wins have come on the scorecards, and 10 of Hashi’s 14 career wins have gone the distance. From a pure numbers standpoint, there’s a strong chance the pair will be battling for the full 25 minutes on Nov. 1, but that doesn’t mean Honchak is content with needing the judges.

“I’m always looking to finish,” she said with emphasis. “I don’t want it to go five rounds, but I’m fighting the best in the world, the top contenders. They want my title and they’re not going down easy. They’re not giving up, not giving in, not breaking.

“I expect that again with Takayo. I’m ready for five rounds.”

After close to a decade in the sport, Honchak has done much more than turn a hobby into a career. Although she’s already captured Invicta gold and is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, neither is her ultimate goal.

“I just want to be remembered. That’s really all I can ask for,” admitted Honchak. “I want to be remembered as one of the pioneering women in the sport. I think about the people like Robbie Lawler, Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, all these guys. Those are legacies. Those are people who will never be forgotten in the sport because they were the originals. That’s what I want to be remembered as.”

Without question, Honchak has already made her mark on the sport. An impressive win over Hashi on Nov. 1 will be another building block towards the legacy that she desires.

Honchak would like to thank Invicta, her teammates and coaches at Miletich Fighting Systems, and Big Five Strength and Conditioning.

Barb Honchak vs. Takayo Hashi Headlines Invicta FC 9 on November 1

Invicta Fighting Championships is headed to Iowa.

The all-women’s promotion will visit the RiverCenter in Davenport on Saturday, Nov. 1, for its ninth event. It will mark the first time the promotion has ventured outside its home of Kansas City, Mo.

In the night’s headlining affair, the promotion’s flyweight champion, Barb Honchak, will look to make the second defense of her 125-pound title as she takes on Japan’s Takayo Hashi.

Honchak captured Invicta gold at Invicta FC 5 in April 2013 with a dominant performance against Brazil’s Vanessa Porto. The 35-year-old then extended her current winning streak to eight with another one-sided performance against current UFC fighter Leslie Smith in December. The win marked Honchak’s fourth victory under the Invicta banner. In addition to her wins over Porto and Smith, Honchak also holds notable victories over The Ultimate Fighter 20 cast members Aisling Daly and Felice Herrig.

Hashi, a former Strikeforce title challenger, will be making her Invicta FC debut. The 36-year-old is unbeaten in her last three fights, topping veterans Roxanne Modafferi and Shizuka Sugiyama along the way. Hashi previously competed at bantamweight and has faced notables Cat Zingano, Tara LaRosa and Sarah Kaufman. Hashi has gone five rounds twice in her 20-fight career. She has appeared under the Smackgirl, Jewels and Deep Jewels banners in a career that spans an entire decade.

Invicta FC 9 will stream live via the UFC’s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. No additional fights for the event have been revealed at this point in time, but more announcements from the promotion are expected in the coming weeks.


Barb Honchak defends her Invicta FC Would Flyweight Championship for the first time on December 7th when she faces off against exciting fan favorite Leslie Smith at Invicta FC 7.

A product of the world famous Miletich Fighting Systems,  Honchak believes her well rounded game plan will have her ready for anything Smith can throw at her when they are locked in the cage December 7th.

Corey Smith: You have risen to pinnacle of the sport, winning the Invicta FC Flyweight World Championship in April of this year. When did you first start the climb up the mountain? What were those first few years like for you?

Barb Honchak: It’s been a trying and exciting few years which has taken a lot of discipline; but fun along the way.  Not only for me, woman’s MMA and Invicta.

CS: You train out of famed Miletich Fighting Systems in Iowa. What does a typical training day look like for you? How do you guard against injury during training?

BH:  Every day there’s some type of conditioning, technique and sparing everyday.  The room is filled with elite level fighters that know how to take care of each other.

CS: You will be defending your title for the first time against Leslie Smith on December 7th. How has your mental attitude changed for a title defense versus being the challenger?

BH: My mental attitude hasn’t change, it’s just another fight, just another girl so really no change.

CS: What do you believe is the key to the matchup against Leslie Smith at Invicta FC 7?

BH: I’m a well rounded fighter and I feel I can win in any aspect of the fight.

CS: What is your mood on fight night? Do you have any routines or superstitions that you have to perform?

BH: I like to stay focused, calm and to conserve as much energy as possible for the fight.

CS: Who generally accompanies you to the cage? What type of feedback and coaching do you prefer from your corners?

BH: My husband and Jr Hernandez are my 2 corners.  I like my corners to be honest and direct with me at all times.

CS: For those that have not experienced it, how would you describe the walk out to the cage?

BH:  It’s exciting; especially in Kansas City I always have a lot of friends, family and teammates there to fire me up.

CS: Aside from fight preparation, how much MMA do you watch purely for enjoyment?

BH:  I watch a lot of the UFC and of course Invicta fights. Pat Miletich, one of my coaches is the commentator for AXStv, so I like to hear him call fights.

CS: Your coach orders you to take a day off from training and bars you from the gym. How are you spending that day?

BH:  First off that never happens, but if it did I would spend the day running my dogs and being a home body.

CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?

BH:  Josh Howatt @ Big 5 Strength and Conditioning.

BH: And All of my coaches and teammates and Miletech fighting systems.



Still humble despite winning the inaugural Invicta Flyweight Championship, Barb Honchak looks back at her career defining win at Invicta FC 5 this past April, while simultaneously looking forward at the future of a division in our exclusive interview.

CS: It has been a few weeks since you won the very first Invicta Flyweight Championship. Has it sunk in yet that no matter who holds the title years down the road, you will always remain the first athlete to have ever held the title?

BH: I am not sure I will fully understand what this means to me until I am well into my retirement.  I am very happy to hold this title from Invicta, as I feel it is a very legitimate world title.

CS: What types of changes have there been since you won the title on April 5th?

BH: I cannot say that there really have been any changes. I expect Invicta to continue to challenge me with the best women in the sport. I will continue striving to change and improve as I always have.

CS: What did it mean for you to bring a title back to Miletich Fighting Systems, with the long list of champions that have trained there?

BH: I think of all the emotions I experienced from this fight, the most intense were with regard to this topic. There is such a huge history with MFS producing champions and at one point it was said they would never produce another.

BH: I love to prove people wrong when they throw absolute words around like ‘can’t’ or ‘never.’  There is still a huge knowledge base there. The team weaned down a bit for a while but it is on the rise again, and I will not be the last champion from MFS.  I just got the ball rolling again with the help of my coach Junior Hernandez and our personal Yoda, Pat Miletich.

CS: What did it mean to have Pat Miletich corner you for the bout?

BH: Having Pat in my corner was incredible. He understood what this fight meant to the gym and I. Junior is a great knowledgeable corner, but having Pat there was like having an extra security blanket. I knew he would see things I didn’t, and when either of them yell something at me, I know I do not have to second guess them. I know they are right about what they are asking me to do.

CS: What was the reaction at your gym when you brought the title in for the first time?

BH: The first time I brought it up was for my BJJ coach Pedro Silveira, who was visiting from Brazil. He and a few of the other guys took pictures with the belt and I. I know they are proud for me, and with me. All of them helped earn that title. It belongs to the team, not just me.

CS: Vanessa Porto posed a stiff challenge in route to your victory to claim the title. How did you see the fight going beforehand? And how much did that differ from how it actually went?

BH: I did expect a more intense fight than what we had. I expected more exchanges and even more clinch and ground work. However, when I tried to visualize our fight before hand, I always ended up focused on standing with her. So I suppose I really did expect it to stay on our feet. I assumed she would look at me in a similar manner as she saw Tara, so I was not very surprised that she kept the same game plan.

CS: How confident were you that you had won the decision when the final bell rang?

BH: I am used to feeling more dominant than I did in that fight. I knew I had landed more strikes and I knew I pushed the pace for the majority of the fight. But you never know what the judges do or do not see, or what they were looking for.

BH: I did not feel like I made major statements in all the rounds. So at the end of the fifth round I looked at Pat and asked him if we had it. When he confidently said yes, I knew it was ours.

CS: Looking at the Invicta Flyweight division, what are your thoughts?

BH: I think there is still a lot of talent out there that I have not fought yet. I also see a good number of 135lb girls potentially dropping to the 125lb division.  I believe I have already fought some of the best, but many up and coming fighters are looking quite impressive and I believe I have plenty of challenges ahead of me.

CS: It was recently announced that Leslie Smith would drop to Flyweight and face Jennifer Maia in July at Invicta FC 6. The winner will earn the right to challenge you at a future event. What are your impressions of both fighters?

BH: This is the first I have heard of the match and of Smith dropping. I think that will be a great fight.  It seems to be a bit of the classic striker versus grappler type of fight.  Smith will have the reach advantage on Maia, but Maia has a lot of experience and will have a plan for that, no doubt. Either fighter would be a great opponent for my next fight.  I look forward to watching.

CS: Where do you keep the title belt now? Do you take it to dinner with you or sleep with it like other champions?

 BH: I think at the moment it is in my bedroom. So, in a way, I guess I do sleep with it.  The only trip it has made with me so far is to the gym, but I suspect it will be making more outings.

CS: Are there any perks to being the champion that you didn’t realize before? Do you get a closer parking spot at the gym?

BH: Haha! Not really. I hope it brings me a few more sponsors and fans, but nothing has really changed. I am still working hard and I still have a lot to learn.

CS: Now that you have won the championship, what are your goals moving forward?

BH: Now that I have it, I want to defend it, a lot. I have been told it is easy to obtain a title, the hard part is holding on to it. To prove yourself a true champion, I believe you have to repetitively defend your title as people constantly come for it.

CS: Lastly, as you mentioned, it took a team to win the inaugural Invicta Flyweight Championship, who would you like to thank?

BH:  I want to thank my team and coaches at Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa. My conditioning coach Josh Howat with Big Five Strength and Conditioning.

BH: Thank you to my husband Tim Beeman, my family and all my fans.

BH:  Thank you to all of my sponsors for Invicta FC5: POLANTI, ONE Coconut, Outlaw Fightgear, VII AD, KLENCH Mouthguards, Combatives Gear, Fight Soap, Throat Punch and SWOLE.


Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak will enter the Invicta cage on April 5th against Brazilian veteran Vanessa Porto to crown the first Invicta Flyweight Champion.

A well rounded and tough fighter out of the famed Milletich Fighting Systems in Iowa, Honchak is currently riding a six fight win streak into her showdown with Porto at Invicta FC 5. Honchak earned wins at both Invicta FC 2 and 3, and is looking forward to becoming the first flyweight champion in Invicta history on April 5th.

Corey Smith: You have quite the extensive amateur MMA record, even taking on Jessica Eye early on in both your careers. Was it important to you to have a certain amount of experience before turning pro?

 Barb Honchak: I wasn’t counting the number of fights I had or anything along those lines.  I think there is a point in one’s amateur career when it just becomes difficult to find fights.  That is what really determined when I turned pro.

 CS: You moved to the Quad Cities area when your husband received a job offer, and it turned out to be a double blessing when you joined Miletich Fighting Systems in Iowa. What is the atmosphere like at such a famed gym?

 BH: The atmosphere is great.  There are many up and coming fighters at the gym as well as veterans with a strong team atmosphere.

CS: You have spoken about the new skills you have learned at MFS. Can you expand on that a bit and tell us what you have learned there?

BH: There are quite a few fighters at MFS with extensive experience, which brings a lot of knowledge.  I have learned a lot of new techniques and philosophies about fighting from them.  Sometimes its just small details that make a huge difference, and that is one thing only experience can provide.

CS: You also mentioned in the past that there are several women in your weight class at MFS for you to train with and how big of an advantage that is for you. What makes training with another woman better than with a male fighter?

BH: Women are smaller, more flexible and quick.  They rely on skill and technique rather than strength. So training with them has an entirely different feel than training with men.  I wouldn’t say that it is better or worse, just different.

CS: You declined an invite to fight at the inaugural Invicta show because of the same move that brought you to MFS. How important to you was it to be comfortable with your new coaches before taking a fight? Do you still feel it was the right decision?

BH: I feel it is important to know my coaches and team, but also for them to know me.  I want my corners to know what I am capable of.   Yes, it was the right decision.

CS: When preparing for their opponents, most female athletes have spoken on the fact that there usually is not much video of their opponents fights. Is that still fairly common or has that improved?

BH: It changes for each opponent.  For my first fight with Invicta against Bethany Marshall, I had very little video.  But when I fought Aisling Daly, I had plenty of footage.

CS: You picked up wins at Invicta 2 and 3. After each win you also picked up more fans and attention. What has that part of your career been like?

BH: The fans are amazing and I am grateful for them.  I wouldn’t have a job without them.  I haven’t really noticed much difference in the amount of attention I get.  I suppose I don’t really look into that very much.

CS: What do you think a promotion like Invicta FC means for the sport?

BH: I believe Invicta FC saved the sport for women.  I felt like the shows supporting us were really on the outs before them.  Now Invicta is women’s MMA.  This is the show females should aspire to be on.

CS: At Invicta FC 5 you are fighting Vanessa Porto for the inaugural Flyweight title. What would a win mean to you?

BH: The title would be amazing.  What more could a competitor ask for than being recognized at the best?  It is what I aspire to be.

CS: Your opponent, Vanessa Porto brings a wealth of experience against high level opponents into the cage with here. What do you think will be your biggest challenge in that fight?

BH: Vanessa is a very well rounded opponent and I expect her to be very strong physically.   I believe Vanessa has many tools on her feet and on the ground and I expect our fight to be an absolute battle.

CS: I read that you are a big fan of the Silent Hill video games. Are you a big video game fan in general or only with select titles? What else do you do to unwind after a long day of training camp?

BH: Ha, yes that is a phase I went through.  I really don’t play that many games.  I tend to be a bit of a homebody.  My husband and I started to learn to sail last summer and I spend a lot of time with my dogs, hiking or playing outside.

CS: Most fighters list the weight cut as the hardest part of MMA. Aside from that, what do you consider the hardest part?

BH: The time away from friends and family would be the hardest part.  There are many times I would like to do things with or for them, but can not because of training.

CS: Lastly, MMA is equally a team sports as it is an individual sport. Who would you like to thank?

BH: I have so many people to thank:

Mike Reddish, Eli Shetler, Junior Hernandez, Pat Miletich, all my teammates and coaches at MFS, Josh Howat and Brandon Adamson from BPS, Steve Berger and all my former coaches and teammates from Berger MMA, Jay Damato, Brett Atchley and Addison Sports Management, Sam Wilson, Slade Bittler, Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, Cat Zingano, all of my sponsors and last but certainly not least, my husband Timm Beeman.