Sara McMann kept her perfect record intact after an intense three-round battle with Shayna Baszler at Invicta FC 2, but it didn’t come easy. The judges awarded the former Olympic silver medalist wrestler a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 30-27, 29-28), but Baszler made her earn it after staggering McMann with a hook in the final seconds and stinging her with sharp counter-punching throughout the fight.
"That was by far the toughest and most skilled fighter I have ever fought," McMann said after the judges handed her the win. For anyone who saw Baszler nearly drop her in the waning moments of the bout, it wasn’t hard to believe.
Baszler appeared to be the more effective striker early on in the bout. While McMann leapt in with powerful flurries, Baszler was content to wait in the center of the cage and fire back with straight shots. It wasn’t until the second frame that McMann put her superior wrestling to work, though after putting Baszler on her back midway through the round she was nearly caught in a kneebar before rolling to escape and ending up stuck on bottom after a brief scramble.
McMann seemed to be firmly in control in the third and final round after taking Baszler down several times and out-muscling her in the clinch. But after a restart by referee John McCarthy in the final minute, Baszler connected with a short hook that had McMann on wobbly legs in the closing seconds. McMann staggered forward looking for a clinch as Baszler turned up the pressure, but McMann made it to the bell and claimed the victory on the scorecards after a thrilling display.
"I felt like I did enough to win, but I’m not sour and I’m not taking anything away from Sara McMann," Baszler said. "...That’s what happens when you leave it to the judges."
The win improved McMann’s record to a flawless 6-0, while Baszler dropped to 14-7 after a performance that earned both fighters ‘Fight of the Night’ honors, according to Invicta president Shannon Knapp. Two ‘Submission of the Night’ bonuses went to Alexis Davis, who locked up a rear-naked choke in the second round of her bout with Hitomi Akano, and Sarah D’Alelio, who put Vanessa Porto away with a first-round armbar.
Full results from Saturday night’s Invicta FC 2 event are below:
Sara McMann def. Shayna Baszler via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Alexis Davis def. Hitomi Akano via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:41 of round two
Liz Carmouche def. Kaitlin Young via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:34 of round two
Ayaka Hamasaki def. Lacey Schuckman via submission (armbar) at 4:45 of round three
Amanda Nunes def. Raquel Pa'Aluhi via technical submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:24 of round one
Sarah D'Alelio def. Vanessa Porto via submission (armbar) at 3:16 of round one
Barb Honchak def. Bethany Marshall via TKO (punches) at 1:22 of round two
Julia Budd def. Elina Nilsson via TKO (elbows) at 3:49 of round one
Carla Esparza def. Sarah Schneider via TKO (punches) at 4:28 of round two
Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc def. Angelica Chavez via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Raquel Pennington def. Sarah Moras via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Jessamyn Duke def. Suzie Montero via TKO (elbows) at 2:32 of round three
Jocelyn Lybarger def. Cheryl Chan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Liz McCarthy def. Jessica Philippus via TKO (doctor stoppage) at the end of round one