After being sidelined for more than a year, former Strikeforce featherweight champion Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos didn't skip a beat in dominating a game, but overmatched Fiona Muxlow on Friday night at Invicta FC 5 in Kansas City, Mo.
Santos connected with hard right and left hands and made matters worse for Muxlow by dropping in a few kicks to the ribs before referee John McCarthy mercifully stopped the fight at 3:46 of the first round.
With the matter in which Santos dominated Muxlow, the only issue became how long McCarthy would allow the assault to continue because, despite taking a beating, Muxlow (6-3) refused to quit.
She threw a few token punches but none discouraged Santos. After the stoppage, Santos (11-1 with one no-contest) fell to the canvas as her emotions were running high.
Santos, who is scheduled to fight Marloes Coenen for the Invicta FC featherweight championship, stepped in the cage for the first since Dec. 2011 when she knocked out Hiroko Yamanaka in the first round.
The outcome of that fight was later overturned and deemed a no-contest after Santos tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. She was suspended one year by the California State Athletic Commission.
"I'm very excited to fight Marloes Coenen," Santos said.
Santos and Coenen fought once before in Jan. 2010, with Santos winning by third-round TKO under the Strikeforce banner.
Waterson claims 105-pound title by submission
Making the first defense of her atomweight title, Jessica Penne felt comfortable competing on the ground against Michelle Waterson. But that decision would ultimately result in her downfall during the card's main event.
Waterson caught Penne in an armbar at 2:31 of the fourth round to lift the 105-pound title.
While both Waterson and Penne possess strong technique on their feet, the fight was contested mostly on the ground with Penne dictating the action.
Using her superior strength, Penne was able to gain top position during a majority of the ground scrambles. But Waterson countered with elusiveness and speed to escape several awkward situations.
Penne nearly finished Waterson in the third round with an armbar, but the challenger refused to tap and escaped.
In the fourth, Waterson used her footwork and striking to stay on her feet momentarily, but Penne again was able to take her down. Waterson, however, latched on to an exposed arm and forced Penne to tap.
Waterson was a heavy underdog heading into the fight, but that did not prevent her from smiling confidently before the opening horn.
"You just can't quit, even when you can't go on," Waterson said after improving to 11-3. "She's an awesome fighter. [Penne] has so much heart. It's a dream come true. You have to believe in yourself and let nobody take that away from you."
Penne (10-2) had her win streak snapped at three.
Honchak defeats Porto to claim flyweight title
The fight was closely contested with Honchak (8-2) being the more active fighter. But Porto landed the harder strikes -- she just wasn't busy enough to satisfy the judges.
Honchak took home the victory with scores of 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47. ESPN.com scored it 49-46 for Honchak.
Porto (15-6) landed a kick to the head in the fourth round that sent Honchak to the canvas, but her stay on the ground was brief as the fight was contested primarily on the feet.
"I just came to fight Vanessa," Honchak said. "I knew she was tough in the standup and on the ground. I was ready to fight wherever it went."
Kaufman survives hard-fought debut
After three hard rounds that saw each fighter deliver heavy strikes, Kaufman came out with a split decision.
Two judges scored it 29-28 for Kaufman. The third had Smith winning 29-28. ESPN.com gave the edge to Kaufman 29-28.
Each round was closely contested. In the second, Smith landed a left kick to the head that sent Kaufman to the ground. Smith eventually allowed Kaufman to return to her feet to the delight of the crowd.
"I knew Leslie was going to be a tough opponent," said Kaufman, who improved to 16-2. "It was an exciting fight for the fans. Thankfully, I was in great shape and came back from the knockdown."
Despite putting on a terrific showing against the former Strikeforce 135-pound champion, Smith (5-3-1) was disappointed with the outcome. She was in no mood to celebrate a memorable effort.
"It doesn't matter how I feel right now," Smith said. "The judges decided that she won."
Maia pins second straight loss on Gurgel
The tactic worked to near perfection as Gurgel rarely got an opportunity to utilize her speed in the center of the cage and the stronger Maia earned a unanimous decision.
The judges scored the fight 30-26, 29-28 and 29-28. ESPN.com scored it 30-27 for Maia (7-2-1), who was making her Invicta FC debut.
Despite being pinned against the cage for most of this fight, Gurgel never stopped fighting hard. She threw several punches and kicks, but none did any damage to Maia.
Gurgel (12-3) has lost two in a row.
Taylor outworks Young to earn unanimous decision
Veteran Kaitlin Young entered her bantamweight bout against upstart Lauren Taylor in dire need of a win. And during the first three minutes of the opening round it appeared Young might halt her recent slide.
She pushed Taylor backward with hard strikes. But cardio again worked against Young as she was unable to keep up pace and came out on the short end of a unanimous decision.
All three judges scored it 29-28. ESPN.com also had Taylor winning 29-28.
Taylor was able to mount Young during the final minute of the first round and land punches. It was a scenario that would play itself out in the second and third rounds.
An exhausted Young (7-8-1) could not stop Taylor's assault and ate punches and knees.
Taylor, who had never ventured into the third round, improves to 6-0. Young is now winless in her four most recent bouts, going 0-3-1 during that span.
Budd submits Estes to extend win streak
The win was Budd's third in a row as she earned her first submission victory as a mixed martial artist.
Budd (5-2) dominated the fight on the ground throughout. She used her superior strength to get Estes off her feet in each round and deliver hard punches.
Budd has not tasted defeat since suffering a first-round submission loss to Ronda Rousey on a Strikeforce card in Nov. 2011. Estes dropped to 1-2.
Hyatt hands Cive her first pro loss
Hyatt (5-2) put Cive on the defensive seconds into the fight with punches to the head. She then took Cive to the ground, secured a full mount and began landing punches to the head.
As Cive (5-1) attempted to maneuver, Hyatt was able to lock in an armbar. Cive tapped out at the 3:30 mark.
Hyatt and Cive expressed bad blood toward one another during the weigh-in and refused to touch gloves to start their fight. After refusing to accept Cive's congratulatory handshake after the bout, Hyatt eventually hugged her.