In the night’s headliner, Alesha Zappitella and Jéssica Delboni met for a second time with Zappitella’s atomweight belt on the line. The Brazilian Delboni immediately fired a combination, but her aggression allowed Zappitella to drag the fight to the ground. Zappitella controlled the head and fired knees. Delboni reversed the position and looked for a single. Zappitella transitioned to a guillotine attempt, but Delboni escaped and separated. Zappitella tried for an arm-drag, then took Delboni down. Delboni briefly moved to the back of Zappitella as the two jostled for top position. The fight returned to the feet and Delboni landed punches. The second round began with a much more measured pace. Zappitella wasted little time looking for a takedown, but Delboni stayed upright. Another shot from Zappitella was answered with heavy elbows and punches from Delboni. An overhand right from Zappitella surprised Delboni for a moment. The takedown defense of Delboni was the difference as the round progressed. The confidence of Delboni grew in round three, as she unleashed combinations. The dynamics of the fight changed as the action consisted of striking exchanges. The Brazilian hurt Zappitella with a knee late in the frame. The championship rounds started with more strikes from Delboni. Zappitella looked to counter with right hands before shooting for the legs. Delboni punished Zappitella with punches as she remained latched to a leg. Another right hand from Delboni stunned the American, prompting her to grapple once more. The final round began with Delboni having a big lead on the scorecards. Zappitella went for broke with heavy punches. She changed levels and latched onto Delboni’s leg in the center of the cage. Delboni remained calm and continued to deliver hammerfists to the face of Zappitella. Late in the fight, Delboni looked to take Zappitella’s back. Zappitella escaped out the back, but Delboni transitioned to an armbar attempt. Zappitella worked free and gained top position. Delboni kept up her aggressive attack, working for a kneebar. The finish did not come, but there was no doubt on the scorecards as Delboni exacted revenge and claimed atomweight gold.
The co-main event of the evening featured Hong Kong’s Ramona Pascual opposite Shamir Peshewa in a 150-pound catchweight contest. A right hand from Pascual clipped Peshewa right off the opening bell and she followed it with a left straight. Pascual attacked the lead leg of Peshewa with low kicks. A knee from Pascual found the liver of Peshewa, who winced in pain and retreated to the cage. Pascual followed up with punches and the referee stepped in to halt the bout just 60 seconds into the first round.
Texas newcomer Hailey Cowan collided with Hawaii’s Monica Franco in a bantamweight affair. Cowan took the center of the cage and drove her way into the clinch. With double underhooks, Cowan held Franco against the fence. They traded short knees from close quarters, as Cowan looked for a trip takedown. The offense of Franco was negated by the strength of Cowan, who took the fight to the ground late in the round. A left hand from Cowan greeted Franco to open the second frame. The fight returned to the clinch and Cowan powered the fight back to the canvas along the fence. Cowan dropped heavy punches from the top as Franco struggled to escape. Cowan passed to mount, then took Franco’s back. She applied a rear-naked choke and Franco tapped.
Helen Peralta extended her success under the Invicta banner, handing fellow flyweight Elise Pone her first professional defeat. Peralta immediately started firing haymakers. She then threw a hook kick, but Pone was able to evade the flashy attack. Peralta pushed her way to the clinch, pinning Pone against the cage. Peralta delivered a steady stream of right hands from the clinch. Late in the round, Peralta dragged Pone to the ground and rained left hands. Pone was able to survive the onslaught. In round two, the fight quickly returned to the clinch and Peralta put Pone on her back. After a brief grappling exchange, Peralta allowed Pone to return to her feet. Peralta continued her relentless pressure in the clinch, scoring with a trip takedown late in the frame. Peralta opened round three with a powerful right hand that dropped Pone. Moments after Pone regained her footing, Peralta planted her on the canvas. When the fight returned to the feet, Pone connected with a heavy kick. Peralta returned to dominating in the clinch. A desperate Pone delivered an elbow that stunned Peralta, but it was too little, too late. All three judges scored the contest in favor of Peralta.
Atomweights squared off when Canada’s Katie Saull welcomed Tamika Jones to the promotion. The southpaw Saull fired her left hand like a piston. Jones struggled with the boxing prowess of Saull. The pair clinched against the fence and it was Saull who took down the wrestler Jones. Saull took the back of Jones and began to work for a rear-naked choke. Saull squeezed hard, but Jones never panicked and escaped to top position. Saull stayed aggressive, attacking with an armbar and coercing the tap from Jones late in the round.
The night kicked off in the bantamweight division as Sarah Kleczka returned to the Invicta cage to face off with Mexico’s Maria Jose Favela. The pair patiently gauged their range and looked for openings in the opening frame. Midway through the round, Favela connected with a solid right hand. Kleczka looked for a spinning backfist, but was countered by Favela. The Mexican fighter peppered the lead leg of Kleczka with kicks. Round two saw Kleczka flurry forward and pressure Favela. A right hand from Kleczka landed clean and she followed it with a combination along the fence. Favela switched stances to counter the forward advance of Kleczka. The final stanza began with the fight still up for grabs. The bantamweights traded heavy right hands late in the fight. The fight was sent to the judges, who were split in their verdict, rewarding Kleczka the victory.
Jéssica Delboni def. Alesha Zappitella by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) – for atomweight title
Ramona Pascual def. Shamir Peshewa by TKO (knee and punches). Round 1, 1:00
Hailey Cowan def. Monica Franco by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:17
Helen Peralta def. Elise Pone by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Katie Saull def. Tamika Jones by submission (armbar). Round 1, 4:30
Sarah Kleczka def. Maria Jose Favela by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
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 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.