Cris "Cyborg" Justino left no doubt who was the premiere 145-pound woman fighter in the world by completely dominating Marloes Coenen for four rounds before the fight was stopped by referee John McCarthy, making her the first Invicta featherweight champion.
Saturday night's bout to crown the first champion, featured the two best known active women fighters not under a UFC contract. Cyborg vs. Coenen headlined the first all-women's MMA pay-per-view show in North American history, emanating from the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Mo.
Cyborg (12-1, 1 no-contest), who has never been in any real trouble in a fight since she arrived on the U.S. scene five years ago, was simply too physically strong for the Dutch MMA pioneer. Coenen's new strength and conditioning program that she talked about prior to the fight made her physically larger, but didn't give her the power to compete with Cyborg, as she was on the defensive virtually the entire fight.
Much of the first three rounds consisted of Coenen (21-6) attempting takedowns, but winding up on her back, or Cyborg throwing quick Greco-Roman back suplex type takedowns. Cyborg in the early rounds would get in a few punches on the ground, before backing off and letting Coenen up, where she would repeat the procedure.
Cyborg, not quite as muscular as she had been in the past, showed a lot more patience in her attack, but her striking remained quick and powerful. Coenen, with years of kickboxing, was able to land in exchanges but simply couldn't match her opponent's power.
Cyborg landed 11 takedowns to none for Coenen, as well as knockdowns in the first and fourth round.
The finishing sequence started when Cyborg knocked Coenen with a right and began pounding on her. After abarrage of punches and elbows on the ground, McCarthy waved it off at 4:02 of the round.
Cyborg, who had defeated Coenen in 2010 in a battle for the Strikeforce title via third-round stoppage, would figure to be the ultimate adversary for Ronda Rousey, or whoever the UFC champion winds up being, if she can make the cut to 135 pounds.
The co-main eventl was similar. In a battle for the next title shot at strawweight (115 pound) champion Carla Esparza, who missed the show with a knee injury, Brazil's Claudia Gadelha (11-0) proved to be too strong for Japan's Ayaka Hamasaki (9-1), the champion of the Jewels promotion.
Gadelha dominated most of the way, winning when referee Greg Franklin stopped the fight due to punches from the mount at 3:58 of the third round.
Much of the undercard was more competitive, with plenty of high action fights in front of a largely quiet crowd.
Lauren Taylor (7-0) was lucky to get a unanimous decision over Sarah D'Alelio (7-4) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a fight where all three rounds were very close. In particular, the third round saw both women go back and forth with punches, really turning on the gas at the end of the round.
Leslie Smith (6-3-1), coming off a close loss to UFC star Sarah Kaufman at bantamweight, dropped to flyweight and became the top contender for champion Barb Honchak with a unanimous decision win over Jennifer Maia (7-3-1). This was an outstanding fast-paced fight, with Smith getting the better of the stand-up,and Maia getting a number of takedowns.
Smith, a Cesar Gracie student from Northern California, fought much like the Diaz brothers, with constant punches without tiring, but she also threw some kicks in.
Scotland's Joanne Calderwood (7-0) took a decision over Greg Jackson protege Norma Ruela Center (2-1) on scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 in a strawweight fight. This match saw a stand-up ordered in the third round while Calderwood was working for an armbar, although she was not close to completing the move.
A thrilling three-round strawweight battle that could have gone either way saw 18-year-old Mizuki Inoue (6-1) take a straight 29-28 decision over crowd favorite "Rowdy" Bec Hyatt of Australia (5-3). Inoue, a champion in the Japanese sport of shoot boxing, which combines kickboxing, takedowns and standing submissions, but no ground work, had her hands full with Hyatt's fast paced punching.
Inoue showed great boxing technique in particular, and given her age, looks to have superstar potential.
No return date was announced by the promotion during the broadcast.