DENVER — On Wednesday, March 15, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted Invicta FC 52: Machado vs. McCormack from ReelWorks Denver.
The strawweight belt is now around the waist of Ireland’s Danni McCormack after dethroning Brazilian Valesca Machado after five rounds. McCormack flicked her jab to start, but was immediately dropped by a right hand from Machado. A left straight from McCormack connected and was answered by a short left hook from the Brazilian. The nose of McCormack bled from the early power shot. A devastating right hand from Machado dropped McCormack again and the Brazilian smelled blood in the waters. She rained punches as McCormack desperately tried to recover. Machado took the back and slapped on a body triangle. She worked for a choke attempt, but McCormack was able to scramble back to her feet. McCormack tried to change levels to no avail. The clinch position allowed her to recover further from the damage and survive the round. McCormack’s strategy shifted toward closing the distance in round two. Machado sought a takedown and was easily stuffed by the Irish fighter. McCormack secured double under hooks along the fence and hung on the Brazilian. Machado looked for slicing elbows, but was largely forced to jostle for position throughout the round. A right hand from Machado caught McCormack in the jaw to start round three. She was able to walk through it and clinch. The punches of Machado landed with more regularity and McCormack fought hard to clinch. Both fighters connected in the center of the cage, but McCormack did not change her clinching strategy. She powered into a double-leg attempt, which Machado stopped. The championship rounds featured a more patient counterstriking attack from Machado and a few crisp shots prompted McCormack to clinch. Machado failed at a takedown attempt before McCormack pressed her to the cage yet again. The pair traded more punches and McCormack responded with a takedown off her own. She tried to mount the Brazilian, who quickly countered with a leg lock from the bottom. McCormack escaped as the round expired. After a pair of right hands from Macahdo, McCormack looked to grapple. She muscled Machado to the mat. The Brazilian struggled to find any space against the relentless clutch of McCormack. Machado slapped on an armbar from her back that McCormack defended well. McCormack applied offense until the final horn and was rewarded for her efforts by the judges, becoming the first Irish champion in Invicta history.
In the night’s co-main event, strawweights Karolina Wójcik and Ediana Silva battled in an effort to establish themselves as contenders. The pair gauged their range in the fight’s opening minutes. The stalemate was briefly interrupted by a right hand from Silva. Wójcik fired a calf kick. The referee paused the action and implored the fighters to engage. Wójcik continued to circle on the outside and Silva struggled to cut her off. Wójcik landed a heavy right hand to open round two, but quickly returned to circling Silva. When the two entered boxing range, each was able to evade the other’s strikes. Silva found a home for her right body kick as she tried to stop the orbit of the Polish fighter. With a minute left in round two, Silva secured a body lock and pushed Wójcik to the cage, but could not secure a takedown. Wójcik inadvertently poked Silva in the eye early in the third round. The Brazilian quickly recovered and the bout was able to continue. Neither fighter was able to find much offense as both were quick to evade one another. The closely contested bout went to the judges. They were split in their verdict, with Wójcik eking out the win.
Undefeated Irish fighter Shauna Bannon welcomed former atomweight title challenger Minna Grusanader to the strawweight division. Bannon pressured forward, looking to find her range. Grusander sat back and hoped for openings to flurry. She cracked the Irishwoman with a big hook at the end of an exchange. Bannon fired back with a combination of her own before the Finnish fighter took the fight to the ground. Grusander was heavy from the top position, but could not keep Bannon on the mat. Bannon’s left leg became a weapon, repeatedly landing to the body of Grusander. The Finn was unfazed and fired back with punches. Grusander looked for a takedown late, but was countered by Bannon, who finished the round on top. Bannon went to the well one too many times with her left kick in round two, allowing Grusander to power into the clinch along the fence. Bannon’s takedown defense held true and she muscled her way to the top. Grusander looked for a kneebar but absorbed heavy punches in the process. Bannon began to look for an arm-triangle with Grusander quickly locking her down. Bannon moved to the crucifix and dropped elbows. Grusander tried to spin to her belly and Bannon repeatedly punched her in the back of the head, forcing the referee to intervene and take away the position. Round three started with an onslaught of left-leg side kicks from Bannon. Grusander tried to drag Bannon into a brawl with looping combinations. Bannon did well to keep the fight at range and score with her kicks. A push kick to the midsection of Grusander sent her to the mat and Bannon followed her down. Grusander latched onto a deep kneebar. Bannon did not panic, battering the body of Grusander with punches to eventually escape the submission attempt. Once free, Bannon moved to half guard and landed punches. The fight saw the scorecards and Bannon’s undefeated record remained intact.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Mayra Cantuária picked up submission win over veteran Calie Cutler in their bantamweight clash. Cantuária flung looping hooks immediately, forcing Cutler to circle away from range. A left straight from the Brazilian caught Cutler flush and she retreated. Cutler recovered quickly and looked to clinch. Cantuária shrugged her off before powering into a double-leg takedown. She allowed Cutler to stand and returned to landing heavy punches. Blood began to trickle from the nose of Cutler and Cantuária brought her to the canvas. She took her back before Cutler spun free into her guard. Once on top, Cutler was able to pass to side control. Cantuária dropped back for a leg lock as the round came to a close. The left straight of Cantuária continued to find the mark in round two, but Cutler repeatedly walked through it. A takedown attempt from Cutler was stuffed by the Brazilian, who spun to Cutler’s back and dragged her to the ground. She moved to the back once more and locked in a rear-naked choke to coerce the tap.
Undefeated strawweight sensation Fatima Kline gave Olympic judo bronze medalist Natalia Kuziutina a rude welcome to the Invicta cage. Kline marched forward with kicks and closed the distance. She avoided a throw from the judoka and looked to take her back. Kuziutina broke free and returned to striking range. Kline caught a kick and tried to take Kuziutina to the ground, but went for a ride, summersaulting all the way back to standing. Kuziutina scored with a head-and-arm throw and began to crank on Kline from the scarf hold position. Kline was patient and was able to transition to Kuziutina’s back. The fight found its way back to the feet, but only momentarily as Kuziutina looked for another takedown. Kline countered and finished the round strong. The second round featured some wild techniques from Kuziutina and Kline capitalized with a heavy body kick and takedown. She tried to posture up from the half guard, but Kuziutina neutralized her from the bottom. Kline looked to pass to mount and Kuziutina scrambled, giving up her back in the process. Kline slapped on a body triangle and went searching for a rear-naked choke. She abandoned the choke in favor of heavy punches. Kline finished the round in the advantageous position. The aggression of the Russian fighter did not stop in the last stanza. She pressed forward and was punished for it by Kline’s counterstrikes. Kuziutina again secured the head-and-arm position along the fence, but Kline did not succumb to a throw. A deep single from Kuziutina was finished with a trip. Kline did not panic and moved to top position. A thunderous overhand right dropped Kuziutina with 90 seconds left in the contest. Kline flurried for the finish, firing heavy punches. Kline took the back and sunk in a rear-naked choke. She squeezed hard for the submission, but was ultimately forced to settle for the decision win.
Colombian Sayury Cañon and knockout artist Amanda Macioce engaged in a three-round war in their strawweight match-up. Macioce quickly went on the attack, but Cañon countered with a right hand. Macioce stuck with it and briefly stunned the Colombian fighter. She changed levels for a takedown, which Cañon stuffed. Blood poured from the nose of Cañon from the heavy hands of Macioce, but she was undeterred in her clinch work. Macioce powered Cañon against the fence and landed a big knee. A powerful low kick sent Cañon to her back for a moment. Cañon caught a kick from Macioce and slammed her violently to the mat. Macioce was unfazed and bounced straight back to her feet. Round two began with a trade of low kicks. Macioce connected with a body kick as Cañon came forward. The nose of Macioce also began to leak. Cañon pinned Macioce to the fence and jostled for under hooks. Cañon changed levels and secured a perfectly timed double leg takedown. She could not hold Macioce down, but continued to impose her will. A big flurry from Cañon had Macioce retreating late in the round. The last five minutes opened with a quick clinch battle. Cañon punished Macioce with a knee square to her already bloodied nose. The lead leg of Cañon turned purple from the heavy kicks of Macioce and she was forced to switch stances. Cañon latched onto a single in the middle of the cage and put Macioce on her back. She delivered a series of punches as Macioce worked back to her feet. Cañon slammed Macioce to the ground once more in the closing moments of the bout to seal the decision win and remain undefeated.
The action began with a 120-pound catchweight affair between newcomers Diana Sanchez and Kendra McIntyre. McIntyre was aggressive to start, firing kicks and pushing Sanchez to the cage. Sanchez clinched and spun the fight to the fence. She muscled McIntyre to the mat, but only for a moment. Sanchez changed levels and locked her hands to score another brief takedown. McIntyre forced Sanchez to her back and rained hammerfists before letting her return to her feet. A massive right hand from the former IKF champion rocked Sanchez late in the round, but she was able to stay upright. With seconds left in the round, Sanchez delivered another takedown. McIntyre stalked Sanchez to start the second stanza, but was taken to the mat with a single-leg. She worked hard to get back to her feet with Sanchez sticking to her like glue. The pair separated and traded strikes from range. A late exchange saw both fighters land, prompting Sanchez to secure another takedown. In the final frame, McIntyre delivered a heavy right hand and followed with a body kick. She caught a kick from Sanchez and kicked out her back leg. The pair traded heavy knees in the center of the cage and then scrambled for position. Sanchez looked to take McIntyre’s back, but McIntyre was able to spin to the top. A thunderous elbow greeted Sanchez as she worked back to her feet. With only a minute left, Sanchez looked for a desperation leg lock. McIntyre was wise to it and defended. The fight saw the scorecards and McIntyre walked away with a victory in her professional debut.
Danni McCormack def. Valesca Machado by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) – for strawweight title
Karolina Wójcik def. Ediana Silva by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Shauna Bannon def. Minna Grusander by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Mayra Cantuária def. Calie Cutler by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 2:16
Fatima Kline def. Natalia Kuziutina by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Sayury Cañon def. Amanda Macioce by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Kendra McIntyre def. Diana Sanchez 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.