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Invicta 11 predictions

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Invicta returns, this time with a main event that's meant to piggyback the following night's UFC event and potentially foreshadow a match-up. Cyborg Justino takes on Charmaine Tweet in a featherweight bout, but the event itself is taking place in the same city as UFC 184's Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano. While nothing definitive has been planned, there is talk of a potential superfight between the Invicta and UFC champions. As for Friday's card, it also features some familiar names, plus two surging prospects out of Mexico.

What: Invicta 11: Cyborg vs. Tweet

Where: Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California

When: Friday, four-fight Fight Pass card starts at 10:00 p.m. ET and the four-fight main card begins on Fight Pass at midnight ET.

Cristiane Justino vs. Charmaine Tweet

Invicta is limited in what they can do to find a suitable opponent for Cyborg, but I just don't expect this to last very long. It's not much of a contest on the feet as Tweet is a ground specialist. Yet, despite that being her preferred location to compete, she's A) going to have a hard time taking Cyborg down or B) controlling her once she's there. Cyborg is athletically superior, yes, but she has very technical, defensive jiu-jitsu when she needs it. Or offensive, such as it, too, if needed. I don't think the fight will go to the ground unless it's Cyborg handing out a TKO finish there.

Pick: Cyborg

Alexa Grasso vs. Mizuki Inoue

If Cyborg-Tweet is the most high-profile bout on the card, Grasso-Inoue is the most interesting. Both are surging top prospects, but with serious question marks that remain. Inoue can seemingly do it all with crisp, diverse combinations, fantastic takedowns (when she wants to use them) and a respectable ground game. Yet, she's small for the weight class and, while her ability to parry jabs or form a defensive shell protects her, she can sometimes get too comfortable playing defense altogether. Grasso is more one note. She has some submissions, but they're basic. She doesn't have as much of a kickboxing game as Inoue, but is bigger and has better power. I'm going to side with Inoue despite my concerns. Grasso gets stronger as the fight goes along and she picks up on her opponent's nuances or tendencies, but Inoue seemingly has too many weapons.

Pick: Inoue

Norma Rueda Center vs. DeAnna Bennett

It feels like Bennett has too many tools to look past. She can strike from the outside, always has a good gas tank, is strong and relentless with backwards pressure in the clinch, carries good ground and pound, and more. Center's also a late replacement here. Maybe we're headed for upset city, but based on available information, Bennett seems like the correct choice.

Pick: Bennett

Irene Aldana vs. Colleen Schneider

Aldana has a semi-similar boxing style to her teammate in Grasso, albeit with less nimble footwork. That said, she loves the overhand right and packs a wallop. She's also possessive of a slightly more diverse kicking game, but I don't see that as much of a factor here. Schneider's kicking game, however, might be good enough to keep Aldana off of her, at least early. Over time, though, I see Schneider wilting under the Mexican's pressure, heavy punching and positional strength in the clinch or even on the ground. Aldana does lack a bit of polish in how to transition or keep a dominant spot, but she competes with a ton of aggression. That should make up the difference.

Pick: Aldana