She may have not fought since April of 2013, but Michelle Waterson showed no signs of ring rust as she bludgeoned Yasuko Tamada in a one-sided affair to retain her atomweight title at Invica FC 8 on Saturday night. The event took place at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouril.
Waterson opened the fight with a punishing set of strikes, both at range with cracking body kicks and crushing knees from the clinch. Tamada survived the attacks, but was being dismantled with virtually everything Waterson threw. Tamada pushed forward and ate a knee on the way in, but didn't give up on her attacks. Towards the end of the frame, Tamada was still under assault, but able to land a few body shots of her own.
The second round picked up where the first left off, with Waterson uncorking virtually everything she chose to and Tamada trying desperately to find any opening. Waterson's body kicks followed by a blitz of knees in the clinch continued to pour on with Tamada having no answer but to absorb all of that which she could not block.
The third round barely started before Waterson landed an audibly powerful body kick to Tamada's middle. Tamada, though, was as tough as they come and still managed to find a straight punch. Still, Waterson was in complete control, destroying Tamada with knees from the clinch, leg kicks and left hooks.
Before the round could end, though, Waterson unleashed a barrage on Tamada that forced referee Greg Franklin to intervene on the Japanese fighter's behalf. Tamada had not been finished ever in nine years of professional MMA competition, but Waterson was awarded the standing TKO win as part of what was essentially a mercy stoppage.
The end came officially at 4:58 of the third round. Waterson's record climbs to 12-3 while Tamada's drops to 15-9-3.
In the co-main event of the evening and in another title fight, this time for the vacant strawweight championship, Katja Kankaapaa and Stephanie Eggink faced off. The bout was a contest between two highly-skilled if differently built fighters with wildly different skill sets in what was headed in one direction before the eventual winner turned it around.
Eggink pumped the jab and showed good movement early before Kankaanpaa punched her way into the clinch. The Fin, however, was unable to take the American down and they separated. A second time from Kankaanpaa worked and she moved into Eggink's guard. The American surprised Kankaanpaa with a near reversal from guard as Kankaanpaa tried to pass, which she then turned back into a locked in triangle attempt. The Fin fought it off or at least survived until the final bell sounded, ending the round.
Kankaanpaa opened the second frame with a heavy single leg that ultimately found the Fin back in Eggink's full guard. Kankaanpaa was able to move to half guard and land heavy elbows, but eventually stood out of her guard and chose to press her into the fence as Eggink stood. Kankaanpaa attempted a double from space, but couldn't finish it.
By the third frame, Kankaanpaa scored another takeown and was nearly triangled again on a failed guard pass, but managed to find a way out and continue the passing attack. Kankaanpaa, strangely, eventually sat back for an ankle attack only for it to miss and then get flattened by Eggink. Kankaanpaa wouldn't relent and attempted a heel hook, but Eggink contorted her own body while throwing heavy strikes before the round ended.
In the fourth round, Kankaanpaa threw and overhand right, which she used to try for a trip and press Eggink into the fence. Kankaanpaa, after several failed takedown attempts, managed a trip to get behind Eggink and ultimately on top. The American, however, was able to stand. Kankaanpaa continued her attack with another double, but Eggink threw her hips forward to stop it and put herself right into mount. The Fin rolled to protect herself, but Eggink unloaded for a number of unanswered strikes. Kankaanpaa, though, would not give up. She covered up and hung on long enough to survive the round, which could have been deemed 10-8 in the American's favor.
Kankaanpaa kicked off the fifth round sticking with the game plan by throwing strikes to drive into the clinch and score a trip takedown into side control. This time the Fin would find a way to finish as she walked north-south with the nearside arm in for a d'arce as Eggink tried to roll to her base. Kankaanpaa moved to what was essentially mount to finish the choke, which she did at 2:03 of the fifth and and final round.
With the win, Kankaanpaa is the new Invicta strawweight champion. Her record improves to 10-1-1 while Eggink drops to 4-2.
EliteXC veteran Tonya Evinger put on a dominant performance against the outspoken Ediane Gomes, controlling the action and thwarting all offense from the Brazilian. The two started with a takedown from Evinger and Gomes spinning underneath for a kneebar. That itself turned into an ankle lock battle, but it ultimately went nowhere. Gomes was quickly taken down again and even framed for her own armbar, but Evinger read it and moved away with no trouble. In open space, Evinger secured another double leg, this time spelling the beginning of the end for her opponent. She moved to mount almost effortlessly. When Gomes bucked and tried to roll to elbow escape, Evinger locked up an armbar, which she secured by opening her frame and hyperextending Gomes' arm.
The tap came officially at 3:31 of the first round. Evinger's record climbs to 13-6 while Gomes moves to 10-3.
Women's pioneers Roxanne Modafferi and Tara La Rosa finished their trilogy on Saturday's card with the 'Happy Warrior' picking up the win in a route of La Rosa. Showing hugely improved footwork, movement and strike selection, Modafferi pot shotted La Rosa from the outside for three rounds. The Syndicate MMA fighter was able to score with effective use of distance, a wide variety of strikes and strong volume of offense, so much so that Modafferi dropped La Rosa in the third round, but there and throughout the bout decline to follow her opponent to the ground.
Modafferi earned a unanimous decision win, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 on the judges scorecards. Her record now stands at 16-11 while La Rosa stumbles to 21-5.
Bennett pressed Ould against the fence in the first round and fired almost dozens of knees to her opponent's midsection before separating. Bennett caught a kick and took Ould to the mat, but ultimately separated. However, they stood and continued to strike from the outside. Prior to the end of the frame, Bennett scored with a right hand and another series of knees to the body from the clinch.
In the second frame, Bennett continued her onslaught, but targeted the body that Ould was trying to protect. A switch step liver kick landed just enough for Ould to crumple, forcing the referee stoppage at 1:34 of the second round. Bennett stays undefeated now at 5-0 while Ould drops to 7-4.
In the evening's biggest grudge match and debuting the lightweight class for Invicta, Charmaine Tweet bodied Veronica Rothenhausler, avoiding the American's trademark power to earn a submission finish.
Tweet landed a left hook that stumbled Rothenhausler in the early going, but Tweet herself was already bleeding from short shots. In a poor choice of positioning, Tweet nearly got the rear naked choke standing when Rothenhausler turned in the clinch, but the American twisted out. Still, Rothenhausler fell backwards, which allowed Tweet to move into mount. From there, Rothenhausler looked helpless as Tweet easily passed to mount. Rothenhausler initially gave up her back before facing Tweet again. Tweet oured on a barrage of strikes until referee Greg Franklin had no choice but to stop it at 4:05 of the first round.
Rothenhausler's record stands at 1-1 while Tweet improves to 6-4.