Fight fans who are waiting for UFC 184 will get a treat tomorrow night as Invicta Fighting Championships hosts its 11th event in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium. The card features eight action-packed bouts, including the featherweight title match between Cris “Cyborg” Justino and Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet.
Aspen Ladd (0-0) vs. Ana Carolina Vidal (0-0)
Invicta FC has been a platform for women to make their professional debut and the card kicks off with a couple of fighters new the major leagues.
Aspen Ladd, who is only 19 years old, comes into the cage after a successful amatuer run of 8 wins, one loss and few regional titles. She’s finished the majority of her fights, (four submission and two KO/TKOs). On the opposite end of the cage you have Vidal, whose amateur run consisted of one submission win. Despite her lack of experience in the cage, Vidal is a highly decorated Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor and dangerous on the ground.
Vidal took this fight on a short notice after Ladd’s original opponent Kristi Lopez withdrew from the fight. A lack of quality time and preparation might have an affect on her performance.
Both fighters will look to make a statement in their professional debuts so this would be quite the barn burner.
Laura Salazar (3-0) vs. Christine Stanley (3-1)
Laura Salazar is making her Invicta FC debut sooner than she thought.
Salazar steps in for Rachel Cummins to face Christine Stanley on two days notice. This is the second opponent change for Stanley, who was originally scheduled to face Emily Corso when the card was first announced.
Salazar is making a name for herself as a knockout artist, with all three of her wins coming in the first round. Stanley also has powerful hands and three first-round finishes, one of which ended in five seconds.
While fighting on short notice might affect Salazar, it might also affect Stanley, who has probably had to switch up her game plan leading up to the fight. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if this fight doesn’t go past the first round.
J.J. Aldrich (1-0) vs. Jamie Moyle (1-0)
This is a showcase of a couple of stars who could make waves in the Invicta FC’s strawweight division.
Both J.J. Aldrich and Jamie Moyle come into the fight off of their Invicta FC debuts in 2014. Both fighters made a name for themselves in the amateur rankings.
Aldrich is no stranger to big opponents, having fought veterans such as Kailin Curran and Raquel Pennington. Although Moyle’s fight resume has lesser known faces, she had just as tough of a road to Invicta, having won a TUFF-N-UFF tournament to get a Invicta FC contract.
While the winner of this fight will probably not get the next shot at the Invicta FC 115-pound title, it will move her up the rankings.
Amy Montenegro (5-1) vs. Brianna Van Buren (3-1)
Amy “Resurrection” Montenegro vs. Brianna Van Buren will be a classic striker vs. grappler bout.
Van Buren, known as “The Bull,” is currently 3-1 with two wins coming by knockout. She also has a decision win over Bellator veteran Patricia Vidonic. Van Buren also trains at American Kickboxing Academy and has worked with several world champions.
Montenegro has a little more experience under her belt, along with three submission wins.
Both Montenegro and Van Buren are making their debuts in the Invicta FC cage and will look to put the promotion’s 115-pound weight class on notice.
Irene Aldana (4-1) vs. Colleen Schneider (6-5)
Journeywoman fighter Colleen Schneider has had a long road to Invicta Fighting Championships and her first stop is prospect Irene “Robles” Aldana.
Despite no experience in the Invicta FC cage, Schneider, known as the “Thoroughbred,” has made a name for herself through different organizations in the United States and Asia. She is coming off a big decision win over Brenda Gonzales for her second Super Fight League title.
Schneider has a killer instinct and the ability to finish her fights. She’s been training with former UFC and Pancrase champion Josh Barnett so it will be interesting to see what she has added to her skillset.
Aldana is coming off an impressive submission win over veteran Peggy Morgan. Besides her evolving ground game, Aldana has lethal hands and knocked out her first three opponents in under a minute.
This is a classic prospect vs. veteran bout with a crowd that will probably have Schneider’s back.
Norma Rueda Center (3-1) vs. DeAnna Bennett (6-0)
DeAnna Bennett is on the quest to be a contender for the Invicta FC flyweight title and Norma Rueda Center is her latest obstacle.
Bennett is coming off a great year, going 4-0 with back-to-back wins over Michelle Ould and Jennifer Maia in the Invicta cage. She was originally supposed to face Lynn Alvarez, who withdrew due from the fight due to injury. Bennett has a well-rounded game and is used to facing tough competition.
On the other side you have Center, who returns after a win over Michelle Nicolini at Legacy Fighting Championships 36. She’s got good submission skills and may give Bennett some trouble if the fight goes to the ground.
Alexa Grasso (6-0) vs. Mizuki Inoue (8-3)
Mexican prospect Alexa Grasso puts her undefeated 6-0 on the line when she faces Japanese combat sports veteran Mizuki Inoue in the co-headliner.
Grasso was impressive in her first two fights in the Invicta cage. She pulled off a decision over Ashley Cummins in a “Fight of the Year” candidate then followed it up with a first-round TKO over Alida Gray. She has incredible knockout – Grasso has three knockout wins that were under a minute – and an ever improving ground game.
Inoue also has a strong standup game herself. The standout from the Land of the Rising Sun has an 11-2 kickboxing record and is a two-time grand prix champion. She comes into this fight after a razor-thin split-decision loss against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at Invicta FC 9. Despite the defeat, Inoue has made a name for herself with wins over UFC fight Bec Rawlings and veteran Emi Tomimatsu.
Whoever wins this match could face Katja Kankaanpää for the strawweight championship in the future.
Invicta FC Featherweight Championship bout
Cristiane Justino (12-1, 1NC) vs. Charmaine Tweet (6-4)
Like many before her, Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet has a gargantuan task ahead of her when she steps into the cage to face Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino for the featherweight title.
Tweet has looked impressive in her last couple of fights. Back in September she finished hard-hitting prospect Veronica Rothenhausler late in the first round. Four months prior, she avenged her loss to Anna Barone after submitting her with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Justino’s explosiveness and power is among the most devastating in combat sports and Tweet, who is well-rounded, is going to have to find a way to not only withstand the Cyborg’s first wave of punches, but also fight back. She may have a chance if she can get Justino to the ground and keep her there, but that is easier said than done.
One interesting factor of this fight is Justino’s mindset. Although she’s defending her title, she’s also in the same city as rival and UFC women’s bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Will that take Justino’s mind off of the fight or will it make her more focused on dispatching Tweet early and making a statement – or at least an interesting post-fight interview.