Invicta FC returns to the UFC's Fight Pass with a move out of their old digs for the famous MMA ground of Davenport, Iowa. In addition, flyweight champion Barb Honchak puts her title up for grabs while top prospects Mizuki Inoue and Karolina Kowalkiewicz look to establish themselves as the next big thing in the women's strawweight division.
What: Invicta FC 9: Honchak vs. Hashi
Where: RiverCenter, Davenport, Iowa
When: 9 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass
Honchak should absolutely have her way with Hashi. The Japanese fighter isn't bad by any stretch, but a) it's not clear what she does better than Honchak and b) the American is uniquely strong for the weight class. Hashi actually has good defensive abilities in all phases of the game, so this may go long. But in the end, what do I see her doing to Honchak in any kind of sustained way? Short of an accident or fluke, nothing.
Mizuki Inoue vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
This is a very tough fight with two rising talents that are, in some ways, mirror images of each other. Both have proactive offense, a consistent level of intensity in their combinations, high percentage submissions and more. The difference, though, is Inoue has a wider array of skills. I worry that the Polish strawweight is more physical and bigger (Inoue seems a bit smallish for the weight class), but her ability to mix it up and prevent Kowalkiewicz from gathering momentum will be the key difference.
Young has fallen on hard times and I'm not particularly confident about her chances in this fight or many others. Still, Pa'aluhi seems like a lesser version of Young if we're evaluating their technical skills. More importantly, Young is a better, more physical athlete. I expect this to be uncomfortably close before Young pulls it out in the end.
Esquibel is a slow starter, so this might be a bit back and forth early, but that's where the buck stops. Rivera-Calanoc simply isn't on the level, if we're being candid. Esquibel tends to let opponents hang out in fights a bit longer than she should, but will get the clinch takedown or right cross when she needs or wants to. This one is fairly straightforward.
Brown likely has the edge on the feet. She's not hugely dynamic, but patient and has good defensive instincts. On the ground, however, McCarthy has a considerable guard. She's comfortable enough to pull guard in MMA, something not highly recommend, but probably doable against lesser opposition. In any case, I suspect the bout will find its way there where the differential in ability will evidence itself.