DENVER — On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Invicta Fighting Championships returned to the Mile High City, hosting Invicta FC 50 from ReelWorks Denver. The event featured a four-woman, one-night title tournament in the strawweight division.
There’s a new Invicta FC strawweight champion as Valesca Machado edged Karolina Wójcik for 115-pound supremacy. Machado opened the fight by delivering a counter right hand as both fighters looked to establish their striking range. Wójcik shook her head after it landed. The Polish fighter frequently switched stances, giving Machado a new puzzle to solve. The Brazilian again delivered a heavy right hand midway through the round. Both fighters implored one another to engage in a firefight, but neither took the bait. Machado began the middle frame with a pair of right straights. Wójcik barreled into the pocket, but the Brazilian showcased great footwork to avoid damage. Machado’s counter strikes began to land with more regularity as the frame progressed. Wójcik’s frustration was apparent in the fight’s last round. She could not find her way into range and Machado made her pay with punches every time she tried. Wójcik closed the distance late and secured a body lock along the fence. She tried to lace her leg for a trip, but Machado saw it coming and was able to separate. Machado turned up her output near the end of the fight, peppering the face of the Polish athlete. Wójcik’s late clinch work proved to be futile and the fight was sent to the judges. When the scorecards were revealed, it was Machado that claimed the decision, as well as the belt.
Making her second Invicta appearance, former UFC combatant Talita Bernardo took on former Invicta bantamweight title challenger Katharina Lehner. Lehner clipped Bernardo early and quickly invited her back to the feet. The Brazilian responded with a takedown and took Lehner’s back. The German did not panic, but Bernardo was patient in her rear-naked choke attempt. Lehner fought the hands of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt for most of the round, surviving until the bell. In round two, Lehner came forward with punches to back Bernardo against the fence. The grappler switched levels and put Lehner on the ground. She passed to side control and began to attack the right arm of Lehner. Lehner was wise to the submission attempt and was able to recover her half guard. Bernardo was reckless from the top position, eating a big upkick as she tried to pass to side control again. However, she recovered instantly and slapped on a kimura that forced Lehner to quickly tap before the round came to its conclusion.
Competing in her own backyard, Colorado’s Claire Guthrie welcomed karate stylist Brigid Chase to the Invicta cage. Chase immediately went on the offensive, firing multiple kicks. Guthrie grabbed ahold of Chase and powered her to the ground. Chase sprung back to her feet, only to be dragged back to the mat. Guthrie briefly mounted, but could not hold the position. She stuck to Chase like glue to prevent the striker from unleashing offense. Chase broke free and landed a spinning heel kick to Guthrie’s face. Guthrie wasted little time taking the fight back to the ground and mounting Chase. From the dominant position, Guthrie fired elbows and punches. Chase exploded to top position late in the frame. Round two opened with Guthrie dropping Chase with a massive right hand. She followed Chase to the canvas and leaned back for a heel hook. Chase countered with a leg attack of her own. Guthrie transitioned to a toe hold, but it allowed Chase to move to top position. She applied an arm-triangle from the mount which forced Guthrie to defend until the round expired. The right hand of Guthrie found its mark again to open round three and she muscled Chase to the ground. She quickly passed to mount. Guthrie climbed high while raining punches and took Chase’s back. She worked for a rear-naked choke, but Chase fought her hands well. Guthrie moved back to mount and dropped punches and elbows. The top pressure of Guthrie was relentless and she battered Chase along the fence. Guthrie flurried hard for a finish but ultimately settled for a decision win.
Ireland’s Danni McCormack took on Brazilian Maira Mazar in the tournament’s reserve bout. The southpaw McCormack was quick to enter boxing range and deliver a left hand. She rocked Mazar with more punches, dazing her and sending her to the mat. McCormack took Mazar’s back and looked for a choke along the fence. Mazar desperately tried to recover from the early onslaught. McCormack settled for half guard, but continued to deliver punches. Mazar kicked McCormack off and fired a series of upkicks to make it through the round. Mazar started round two with multiple kicks before latching onto McCormack and slamming her to the canvas. She quickly moved to the back of the Irish fighter. McCormack stood and looked to shake the Brazilian off. Mazar responded with a rear-naked choke attempt which McCormack successfully defended. McCormack tried to separate Mazar’s body triangle, but ate a series of punches in the process. She finally separated and absorbed a huge knee on the break. Once back at striking range, McCormack landed multiple left hands to close the middle stanza. In round three, McCormack briefly looked to change levels and keep Mazar guessing. She eventually powered into a takedown and landed in Mazar’s guard. Mazar escaped to her feet and the pair exchanged punches in the middle of the cage. McCormack lost her balance and Mazar turned it into a takedown. The Irish fighter worked backed to her feet and cracked Mazar with heavy punches late. The verdict was left in the hands of the judges, who rendered McCormack the winner.
The second strawweight title tournament semifinal match-up pitted returning Invicta veteran Valesca Machado against her 20-year-old countrywoman Ediana Silva. The two Brazilians gauged range early, looking for openings. A heavy low kick from Machado buckled the lead leg of Silva. Machado missed with a spinning backfist attempt, which allowed Silva to connect with a right hand. Silva charged forward with reckless abandon, throwing heavy punches. After absorbing a pair of rights, Machado closed the distance and pushed Silva to the fence. Machado connected with a series of uppercuts, but Silva just marched right through the strikes. Machado began to counter effectively as the round progressed, which set up a late takedown as the round closed. Machado opened round two with a variety of kicks and a stiff right hand that slowed Silva’s advance for the first time. Machado looked for another takedown, but Silva was able to shrug her off and stay on her feet. A second attempt was successful and Machado looked to take Silva’s back. The younger fighter was resilient, working back to her feet, only to be taken down again. Machado took Silva’s back and secured a rear-naked choke, but could not coerce the tap before the round expired. The last round began with Machado scoring a brief takedown. Silva’s forward march continued, but Machado landed with counters. Machado capitalized on Silva’s aggression, landing a late takedown. The judges were split, but Machado earned the victory and moved onto the final.
In the first half of the strawweight title tournament semifinals, Polish newcomer Karolina Wójcik squared off with UFC veteran Gloria de Paula. Wójcik walked straight into the pocket and fired looping punches when the fight began. De Paula clinched and pinned her to the fence. The pair separated and Wójcik again fired heavy punches before de Paula closed the distance and clinched. Wójcik latched onto a single and looked to drag de Paula to the ground. The Brazilian scrambled well to stay upright. Wójcik changed levels to look for a double, but de Paula was able to separate late in the round. De Paula was the aggressor to open the middle stanza, but it was short lived as Wójcik powered her to the fence. The fight turned into a striking match at range and both fighters connected with heavy shots. The right eyes of both fighters began to swell. Wójcik caught a body kick from de Paula and kicked out her back leg to bring the fight to the mat. De Paula quickly attacked from her guard, but Wójcik scrambled to take her back along the cage. The Polish fighter peppered de Paula with heavy punches from back mount. De Paula defended well to survive the round. Knowing she was down on the scorecards, de Paula came out firing in the third. Wójcik looked to answer, but the taller Brazilian delivered knees. The urgency from de Paula was apparent throughout the round, as she rocked Wójcik with a head kick and flurried hard for a finish. Wójcik displayed her durability to survive the barrage and make it to the scorecards. The early work was enough for Wójcik to advance in the tournament.
The night kicked off in the flyweight division as Elise Pone collided with boxing champion Melissa Oddessa. Pone looked to keep the fight at range by peppering Oddessa with kicks, but Oddessa marched forward undeterred initially. The fight found the fence and Pone delivered knees to the midsection. Oddessa secured a body lock, but it was Pone who drove the fight to the ground. A scramble saw Oddessa gain top position. Pone worked back to her feet and attacked with an arm-in guillotine attempt. She scored with knees before dropping to the mat. The bell saved Oddessa to close the first frame. In round two, Pone clinched Oddessa to the fence and the pair jostled for position. Pone was relentless with knees and elbows, preventing Oddessa from mounting any offense. Round three began with Pone cracking Oddessa with a heavy right hand. Much like the first two stanzas, Pone dominated the clinch. There was no doubt on the scorecards as Pone cruised to the decision win.
Valesca Machado def. Karolina Wójcik by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) – strawweight title tournament final
Talita Bernardo def. Katharina Lehner by submission (kimura). Round 2, 4:26
Claire Guthrie def. Brigid Chase by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Danni McCormack def. Maira Mazar by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27) – strawweight title tournament reserve bout
Valesca Machado def. Ediana Silva by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28) – strawweight title tournament semifinal
Karolina Wójcik def. Gloria de Paula by unanimous decision (29-28 x3) – strawweight title tournament semifinal
Elise Pone def. Melissa Oddessa by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
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.
About Anthem Sports & Entertainment, Inc.
Anthem Sports & Entertainment Inc. is a global multi-platform media company with offices and studios in Los Angeles, Denver, Nashville, New York, Kansas City, Cleveland and Toronto. Anthem’s portfolio includes AXS TV, a leading music, entertainment and lifestyle television channel and digital media company; global film distribution company Gravitas Ventures; Fight Network, the world’s premier combat sports channel; IMPACT Wrestling, one of the world’s leading wrestling organizations specializing in original programming and live events; Invicta Fighting Championships, the world’s premier all-women mixed martial arts promotion; Game+, the leader in Esports and gaming content; GameTV, the home of game shows and competition-based reality series; and HDNet Movies, which features theatrically released films and documentaries. Anthem also has a significant ownership interest in Pursuit Channel, one of the top outdoor channels in the U.S.