The all-women Invicta Fighting Championships on Friday announced a match to create the company's first strawweight (115 pound) champion between Carla Esparza (8-2) and Claudio Gadelha (9-0). The bout headlines a Jan. 5 show at the company's home base, Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan.
The 23-year-old Gadelha - from Mossoro, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil - is a three-time world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. She's used that as her base in winning six of her first nine fights via submission, all in less than 2:08.
Esparza, two years older, wrestled in both high school and college. The Redondo Beach, Calif., native was an All-American at Menlo College in Menlo Park, Calif, and has beaten Sarah Schneider and Lynn Alvarez via TKO in her previous bouts with the promotion. Esparza's lone career losses are a split decision to highly-ranked Jessica Aguilar, and an armbar loss two years ago to Megumi Fujii, one of the most skilled women fighters in the history of the sport.
The co-main event will pit Shayna Baszler (15-7) against Alexis Davis (12-5) in a bantamweight fight. Baszler, who has 14 submission wins to her credit, finished Sarah D'Alelio via choke on Invicta's last show on Oct. 6. Davis last fought on July 28, submitting Hitomi Akano. Before that, she lost the decision in a war with Sarah Kaufman on March 3, in Columbus, Ohio, that was one of the best fights, male or female, held this year in the Strikeforce cage.
D'Alelio (6-3), an early victim of Ronda Rousey, will face another former Strikeforce fighter, power-puncher Amanda Nunes (7-2) in a bantamweight bout.
Hiroko Yamanaka (12-2), the former Smackgirl champion who was ranked No. 2 in the world as a featherweight one year ago, faces American Top Team member Ediane Gomes (8-2). Yamanaka was the victim of Cris "Cyborg" Santos in the fight where Santos tested positive for Stanazolol.
Also announced for the main card were strawweight fighters Joanne Calderwood of Glasgow, Scotland (4-0) against Bec Hyatt of Brisbane, Australia (4-1). Calderwood started as a Muay Thai champion in Scotland. She earned knockout of the night honors at the Oct. 6 Invicta show for her win over Ashley Cummins.
The final main card bout will have Leslie Smith (4-2-1) in a bantamweight match against an opponent to be named.
The top prelim bout features Stephanie Frausto (4-4), the younger sister of Bellator champion Zoila Frausto Gurgel), against Cassie Rodish (3-3), at atomweight (105 pounds).
Other fights on the show announced were Tamikka Brents (1-0) vs. Amanda Bell (0-0) at featherweight; Jodie Esquibel (2-0) vs. Liz McCarthy (1-0) at atomweight; Emily Kagan (2-0) vs. Rose Namajunas (0-0) at strawweight; and Paige Van Zant (2-0) vs. Tecia Torres (1-0-0) at strawweight.