Invicta women deliver on all fronts
That might seem odd that considering a fight card comprised solely of women took place Saturday in Kansas City, Kan.; yet Coenen, who headlined the debut of Invicta Fighting Championships, knows of what she speaks.
"We do exactly the same thing as the men," said the 31-year-old Dutch fighter. "We fight the same rules, same rounds. By calling it 'women's MMA' it separates us from like real MMA. So I tell the journalists, please don't call it 'women's MMA' because it makes it look less than what we are."
She's right, you know. In the cage, women aren't doing anything differently than their male counterparts. I realized just that June 14, 2000. As it happened, the first fight card I covered was International Fighting Championship's Warrior Challenge 8 in Friant, Calif., for the pioneering MMA periodical "Full Contact Fighter."
Follow us on Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the latest MMA coverage from around the world. Follow us on Twitter and stay informed. Join »
Bjornstad finished Nolan in 121 seconds, which was long enough to move beyond any sense of discomfort over seeing women beating each other up in a cage. Though the bout was short, it was nonetheless clear to me that women possessed skill and tenacity equal to men. (Actually, from what I've seen over the years, women tend to fight harder.) So it was no surprise here that Invicta FC's first event produced a solid night of fights.
That's the constant in this equation. Women deliver entertaining bouts when given the chance. If Invicta has anything to say about it, women who want to fight won't have a difficult time finding one.
While Strikeforce is still in the business of promoting women, it's only doing so in one weight division. Invicta, meanwhile, offered three contests in the "atom weight" division alone. From 105 pounds to 145 (technically 149.5 since Randy Miller missed weight), there will be slots to fill as the year plays out.
Invicta already revealed the main event for its second offering July 28, as bantamweight Sara McMann fights Shayna Baszler.
But before we attempt to peer too far off into the future, let's take one last look at Saturday's bouts.
Invicta FC grades
Matchmakers did a fine job of keeping things competitive, save for Liz Carmouche's dismantling of Ashleigh Curry. Carmouche, a former contender for Strikeforce in the bantamweight division with a record of 6-2, tore Curry (1-1) apart before referee Greg Franklin jumped in to put a stop to the contest at 1:58 of the opening period. Carmouche is physical and aggressive. The 28-year-old mauler will be heard from again.
The evening's co-feature put Jessica Penne in the cage against Lisa Ellis (14-8). Penne (9-1) inflicted damage on Ellis before a third-round stoppage sealed her victory. There were some terrific grappling sequences between the 105-pounders, which allowed Penne, 28, to showcase her dangerous guard and impressive flexibility.
Kaitlin Young, Leslie Smith
It's best to include these two in one block of text. They went to war for 15 minutes, earning fight of the night bonuses and a split draw from the judges. Smith, 29, gave almost as good as she got. In the end she was just a small step behind Kaitlin Young, and it cost Smith the decision. More important than the result, perhaps, is the potential rematch of a fight that had fans buzzing online. Young, 26, needs a major resurgence if she's going to have any sort of impact at 135 pounds.
Marloes Coenen (20-5) earned praise for her first effort at 145 pounds. She appeared stronger than France's Romy Ruyssen, which paid off as she mostly worked over her opponent against the fence. Coenen finished Ruyssen (5-2) in 2008 with a rear-naked choke; however, she didn't come close to finding a finish this time around. Afterward, Coenen called out Strikeforce champion Ronda Rousey. It was a nice sentiment but Coenen, remember, lost her title to Miesha Tate, who in turn gave it up to Rousey. The odds of Coenen getting her wish are slim at the moment.
Give her time and Miller, a 2008 bronze-medalist wrestler for the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics, could be a true force. She's maniacally determined and throws down with some of the most serious ground-and-pound I've ever seen from a woman. At the age of 28, Miller (1-0) believes she has plenty of time to improve and make something out of this next phase of her competitive life. Don't put anything past "Bam Bam" at this stage. Underestimating the 5-foot-2 powerhouse would be a serious mistake.
MORE MMA HEADLINES
- Evans, Henderson now main event at UFC 161
- Belfort drops Rockhold with spinning kick in 1st
- Nate Diaz banned for slur against Caraway
- Healy tests positive for pot, gets 90-day ban