Kansas City, Kan. — On Friday, Nov. 1, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted Invicta FC 38: Murata vs. Ducote from Memorial Hall. The entire fight card aired exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
There’s a new strawweight champion as Japan’s Kanako Murata edged Oklahoma’s Emily Ducote over the course of five rounds. Ducote opened the title match-up with low kicks to the calf of Murata. The Japanese fighter faked a superwoman punch and secured a body lock, but Ducote remained upright. Murata then ducked under a punch and powered the fight to the ground. Ducote quickly latched onto an arm and forced Murata to defend the armbar. Ducote worked back to her feet, but it was short lived as Murata dragged her back to the mat late in the round. The low kick of Ducote continued to land in round two, frustrating Murata. A deep single-leg attempt by Murata was shrugged off by Ducote. The Oklahoma fighter used her reach to land punches to Murata’s midsection. Murata powered into a takedown as the round neared its end, but Ducote again forced her to defend an armbar attempt. In the third round, Ducote was able to land straight punches with regularity. Murata landed a nice combination from boxing range, but struggled to get inside with any consistency. Ducote shrugged off multiple takedown attempts, but Murata got her to the canvas late in the round. Ducote pushed forward in round four, driving Murata against the fence with her punches. A lead-leg head kick from Ducote caught Murata flush. She followed it with a second head kick that appeared to stun Murata. Ducote attacked with more punches, forcing Murata to look for a takedown. She latched onto Ducote’s arm and pulled her to the ground. Ducote locked onto an arm, but Murata escaped. Murata tried to cartwheel past Ducote’s guard as the round expired. Ducote peppered the face of Murata with punches in the final round. Murata scored with a takedown midway through the round, but found herself in another armbar attempt. The fight was sent to the judges for the decision, who were split in favor of Murata.
In what was originally scheduled to be the night’s headliner, flyweight champion Vanessa Porto took on Mexico’s Karina Rodríguez in an all-out war. Unfortunately, Rodríguez missed weight for the bout and fight became a non-title affair. The reach advantage of Rodríguez came into play early, as she was able to connect with Porto from range. The Brazilian answered with a strong right hand and then changed levels for a big slam. Rodríguez showed great scrambling ability to get back to her feet, but Porto was able to secure more takedowns. The latter part of the round was controlled by Porto and her wrestling. The left eye of Rodríguez swelled badly to open round two. The Mexican fighter was unfazed, securing the clinch and kneeing Porto multiple times in the face. Blood poured from Porto’s nose, but she moved forward aggressively. A right hand from Porto damaged Rodríguez’s nose midway through the frame. Another big knee from Rodríguez landed, prompting a late takedown from Porto. Both fighters wore plenty of damage entering the final round. Rodríguez became more confident, moving forward and firing punches. Porto tried repeatedly to bring the fight to the ground, but was met with more knees. The nose of Porto leaked blood and her right eye swelled, but she was able to secure a late takedown. The fight was sent to the judges for a verdict and it was Porto who walked away with the victory.
Strawweight Mallory Martin continued her winning ways, defeating Cynthia Arceo on the scorecards. Arceo scored with a short left hand early as she bounced on her feet. Martin closed the distance and secured a takedown with an outside trip. After a series of left hands, Arceo worked back to her feet. The Texas fighter used her kicking arsenal to control the range late in the round. The second round started well for Arceo as she cracked Martin with a straight right hand. However, she threw a kick that Martin caught and was planted on the ground once again. Martin patiently passed to side control and eventually the mount. Once in mount, Martin delivered heavy ground and pound, battering the promotional newcomer with elbows and punches. Arceo showed heart to survive the round. Arceo found success early in round three by using her kicks to stay on the outside. Martin countered with her lead hook, but eventually changed levels and returned the fight to the mat. She again earned the mount and rained more elbows, but could not find the finish. Martin moved to 6-2 with the decision win.
Flyweights Shanna Young and Maiju Suotama met for a second time, with Young again coming out victorious. The opening round was a flashback to the pair’s previous bout at Phoenix Rising 2, as Finland’s Suotama was able to get Young to the canvas and take her back. Suotama tried to soften up Young with punches and looked for a rear-naked choke. Young was able to survive and the fight went to a second round. Young took control with her striking, dropping Suotama with a massive left hand. She continued to damage Suotama with punches, bloodying her nose. Suotama tried to get the fight back to the ground, but Young showcased a great sprawl. Young gained top position late in the round and delivered heavy punishment. Suotama pulled guard early in round three, attacking with an armbar. Young punched her way free and pounded on the Finn from side control. Late in the round, Young moved to mount and unleashed punch after punch. Suotama made it to the final bell, but Young walked away with the decision nod.
Bantamweight Lisa Verzosa remained unbeaten after a three-round war with New Hampshire’s Kerri Kenneson. Verzosa pressured forward from the opening bell, delivering a right hand along the cage. She looked to follow it up with more punches, but Kenneson caught her with a clean right hand that sent her crashing to the canvas. Verzosa recovered and continued to march forward. Kenneson scored with a left hook to the body and closed the round with a takedown attempt. The pair exchanged early in round two, with Verzosa attacking the body of Kenneson in the clinch. Kenneson threw a variety of kicks, trying to slow the unrelenting advance of Verzosa. In the last five minutes, both fighters had their moments. Verzosa stayed in the face of Kenneson, causing her nose to bleed with punches. A left hook to right straight combination from Verzosa forced Kenneson to shoot for a takedown, but Verzosa countered with a guillotine choke attempt. The back-and-forth battle went the distance, with Verzosa claiming victory.
Auttumn Norton picked up her first career win after battering Shaianna Rincón over three rounds in their featherweight match-up. After taking turns landing heavy shots in the fight’s first stanza, Norton stunned Rincón with a right hand. The fight swung heavily in Norton’s favor in round two as Norton caught a kick and dumped Rincón to the ground. Once on top, Norton unleashed a barrage of punches and elbows that split open Rincón. Despite the onslaught, Rincón survived the round. Round three was largely a carbon copy of the second, as Norton put Rincón on the mat and landed more ground and pound. The fight saw the final bell, but it was a clean sweep for Norton on the scorecards.
The night kicked off with a clash of bantamweight newcomers as New York’s Taneisha Tennant met Las Vegas-based Serena DeJesus. After a brief feeling-out process, Tennant dropped DeJesus with right hand. DeJesus would survive and fire back with kicks. In round two, DeJesus turned the tables, stunning Tennant with a left hand and landing numerous low kicks. With the fight in the balance in the final frame, Tennant bloodied the nose of DeJesus with a big left hook. She finished strong with a right hand that hurt DeJesus. All three judges rewarded Tennant the decision victory.
Kanako Murata def. Emily Ducote by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46) – for strawweight title
Vanessa Porto def. Karina Rodríguez by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Mallory Martin def. Cynthia Arceo by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Shanna Young def. Maiju Suotama by unanimous decision (29-27, 28-27, 28-26)
Lisa Verzosa def. Kerri Kenneson by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Auttumn Norton def. Shaianna Rincón by unanimous decision (30-26 x3)
Taneisha Tennant def. Serena DeJesus by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
About Invicta FC:
Invicta Fighting Championships 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 (Facebook.com/InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.