But Saturday was Penne's night to shine. The Laguna Hills, Calif. native dominated her main event bout Sugiyama at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. before winning in the second round via triangle choke.
"I'm up in the clouds right now," said Penne (10-1).
Sugiyama (8-1), the champion of the Japanese Jewels promotion, entered with a reputation for her powerful right hand. But Penne managed to mostly avoid it. Penne dropped Sugiyama in the first round and spent the next couple minutes in top position. Though she won the round, she didn't come close to finishing the fight, as Sugiyama's ground defense was sound.
That changed in round two. Penne landed several knees in the Thai clinch. When they hit the ground, Sugiyama had top position, but it didn't take long for Penne to expertly weave her way into position for the triangle, forcing Sugiyama to tap.
The victory made Penne both Invicta's first 105-pound champion and the company's first champion in any weight class.
"I was just trying to stay focused and not let it get to me," Penne said. "I train with the best and I just came in and stayed really focused."
In the co-main event, bantamweight Shayna Baszler scored an impressive victory over Sarah D'Alelio. Baszler (15-7) dominated round one, getting an early takedown and staying on D'Alelio's back for the bulk of the round.
While D'Alelio (6-3) managed to fend off the Sioux Falls native in the opening stanza, she had no answer in round two. Baszler dropped her early with a right hand, unleashed a ground-and-pound flurry, and swiftly worked her way into a rear-naked choke for the submission.
"I saw the choke was there so I got it," said Baszler. "Hat's off to Sarah, she's tough. If you come in to this ring and underestimate Sarah D'Alelio, she'll get you. So don't you dare do that."
The Josh Barnett-trained Baszler, who dropped a unanimous decision to Sara McMann at Invicta 2, said she's ready for any and all comers.
"I've been doing this for over 10 years, it's a long time," she said. "I feel like I'm just now hitting my stride. I'm in a groove, no one can beat me, I don't feel like my last fight was really a loss. I'm just hitting my stride, so everyone else should be shaking in their boots."
In a bantamweight rematch, Leslie Smith defeated Kaitlin Young via second-round TKO. Smith, substituting for an injured Sarah Kaufman, got the best of Young in a back-and-forth bout by working her into a textbook crucifix position and raining down punches until the referee stopped the bout. Their first fight, at Invicta I, resulted in a split draw.
In other results of note, Cat Zingano, who had her Strikeforce debut scuttled when the company's Sept. 29 card was canceled, improved to 7-0 when she defeated Raquel Pennington via second round rear-naked choke; and Jackson's MMA fighter Michelle "Karate Hottie" Waterson won a split decision against Lacey Schuckman after an action-packed, back-and-forth bout.
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