Episode 11: Invicta FC 18 – Grasso vs. Esquibel

Welcome to the latest episode of Invicta FC Radio.

On this episode, Invicta FC matchmaker Julie Kedzie hosted fellow matchmaker Kaitlin Young and Invicta FC Presdient Shannon Knapp to discuss Invicta FC 18: Grasso vs. Esquibel.  The event takes place on Friday, July 29 from the historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo., and streams live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

During the episode Knapp announced two new bouts for the fight card, completing the lineup with nine fights.

At bantamweight, rising star Aspen Ladd (3-0) of California meets Nevada’s Jessica Hoy (1-0), while Texas prospect Tessa Simpson (4-1) welcomes Simona Soukupova (5-3-1) back to the Invicta cage in an atomweight affair.

For all the details and more, listen to the entire episode below.

Simona Soukupova Returns to Invicta FC

Kansas City, Mo. — Atomweight Simona Soukupova (5-3-1) is returning to Invicta FC.

It’s been two years since Soukupova bested Cassie Rodish at Invicta FC 5 via guillotine choke. In the interim, she’s gone on to battle strawweight contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz and stop Iman Darabi by TKO.

“I am super excited to re-sign with Invicta!,” said the fighter. “Since I fought last time for Invicta, I wished to be back. To fight for Invicta means to fight the world’s best female fighters of my weight category. That is what I want and train for.”

Fighting out of Ronin MMA and Fight Zone London, the Czech-born fighter is ready to showcase her evolving skill set.

“Since my last fight for Invicta, I have improved my game and I consider myself to be a well-rounded fighter now,” declared Soukupova.

Look for Soukupova’s return to the Invicta cage in the near future.

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. For more information, visit, follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights) and like Invicta on Facebook (


Stepping in on late notice for an injured Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc, Simona Soukupova will challenge two time Invicta veteran Cassie Rodish at Invicta FC 5 on April 5th.

Originally starting out in Muay Thai, Soukupova has grown into a well-rounded athlete with a record of 3-2-1. Travelling the world to train with the best of the best, Soukupova did not hesitate to step in on short notice and is looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity to fight in front of the Invicta fans on April 5th.

Corey Smith: What first drew you in to the world of mixed martial arts? How long were you training before you took your first fight?

Simona Soukupova: I do not really remember, just one day I decided I wanted to take up martial arts and striking appeared attractive to me at that time. It happened quite late in my life (in my late twenties), when I tried my first Muay Thai class and I loved it.

SS: I used to do sports as a kid but kind of being pushed a bit by my sporty parents into it. It resulted in me stopping all sports at quite an early age. I did not want to do any kind of sport for a long time, until I came across Muay Thai.

SS: I was in day to day training quite soon after taking up Muay Thai and my first fight happened after a few years in training.

CS: You hail from the United Kingdom, where there are several popular MMA promotions, BAMMA, and Cage Warriors to name a few. With MMA becoming a global phenomenon, what is the MMA community like in England?

SS: We kind of all know each other. My instructor James started to do grappling when MMA was at the beginning in the UK. I would say we are quite a close community and support each other in some way.

CS: You have fought in several different countries, including the US and Finland. What are the major differences between fighting in some of the countries you have fought in?

SS: Culture of those countries makes it different each time, how they treat you. It’s so cool to experience it.

CS: Most fighters have a home gym that they spend most of their training camps at, but it is also fairly common to visit other gyms for a few weeks at a time. Where do you spend the majority of your time training? What other gyms have you visited to help you work on one aspect or another?

SS: I have all I need in my home club – KO Gym in London. I tend to go and train with people from different gyms from time to time to improve one or another side of my game but mostly work out at KO Gym.

SS: I went twice for a few months to the US to train at well-known gyms there. I wanted to see how it works there and learn. I also wanted to experience different cultures as I love travelling and I had never been in the US before.

SS: I thought to combine training and travelling would be fun and it was. I trained with Lisa and Eddy Ellis and we also became good friends. I trained with Din Thomas from ATT, at Xtreme Couture Gym, with Cyborg in San Diego (The Arena), I met Marcelo Garcia.

SS: Last year I really enjoyed training with female team in Greg Jackson’s Gym. Actually, I met and rolled with both of the “main event” girls (Jessica Penne and Michelle Waterson) on my trips. They are great competitors (fast, long legs grapplers). If it goes to the ground it will be amazing to watch. It is a very good match. I look forward to this fight J.

CS: Do you believe that having fought in the United States before will better prepare you for fighting on April 5th at Invicta FC 5?

SS: I believe that any of my fights is part of my preparation for fighting at Invicta. To do well is a mental thing in this case. Any experience from the cage counts.

CS: How has your relationship been like thus far with Invicta FC?

SS: I communicate with Invicta through my manager Slade Bittler and it all works pretty well.

CS: Invicta FC has quickly built a reputation around exciting cards from top to bottom. Are you excited to try and contribute to that reputation? Was there any hesitation in taking a short notice fight?

SS: No hesitation, it is an opportunity and I want to be there.

CS: Your opponent at Invicta FC 5, Cassie Roddish brings a four fight win streak into the fight. How familiar are you with her? What do you expect out of the bout?

SS: I watched her fights and I think she is well rounded, as am I, so it should be a good match.

CS: You have generally fought at 115lbs in the past, but will be making the drop to 105lbs for this bout. How are you preparing for the drop in weight class?

SS: Diet! 115 is very close to my actual weight. I put on a bit more over Christmas though. I have to be on a strict diet now. It makes me hungry. And I am not talking about food now!

CS: After weigh ins, what is your favorite food to indulge in?

SS: I am addicted to peanut butter. I will dip into a jar of peanut butter after the fight for sure. Otherwise, after weigh in I do not crave anything. I am thinking off the fight.

CS: What is your mood like on fight night? Do you have any superstitions or routines you stick to on the night of the fight?

SS: I do not think of the fight the day before. On the day of, I like to have a short nap during the day and I do imagine the fight at that time – what I want to do there, etc.

CS: Inside the cage, whose voice do you look to the most? What type of feedback do you look for from your corners?

SS: I listen to my corner (Coach James Duncalf,) and we always watch the fight after and talk about what could have been done differently.

CS: Outside of training, how much MMA do you watch? Are there any fighters here or abroad that you enjoy watching?

SS: I am not into it really. I sometimes do not know big names which can be embarrassing. I like Lisa Ellis’s fighting style. I admire her wrestling!

CS: When you aren’t in the gym, what types of activities do you participate in purely for fun?

SS: Being in the gym is my hobby. I do it for fun.

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

SS: I would like to thank my coach James Duncalf and my MMA team from KO Gym London. And thank you to Slade Bittler for giving me an opportunity to fight on a big stage!

SS:  To my sponsors Rebekka Francis (Lutadora) and Paul Hejduk (Dawgs Forever).

SS:  And thank you for the interview!