COSTA MESA, Calif. -- For the first time in a long time, Cris Cyborg's opponent almost made it out of the first round.
Daria Ibragimova did a decent job of pushing Cyborg against the cage and going for takedowns. But when the 10-second clack sounded, Cyborg went for broke. She crushed Ibragimova with a hard right hand and then pounced for a knockout finish at 4:58 of the first Saturday night in the main event of Invicta FC 15 at The Hangar at the Orange County Fair.
With the victory, Cyborg defended her Invicta women's featherweight title in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,504 in her adopted home of Orange County.
Ibragimova did keep Cyborg against the cage for long periods of time, but Cyborg was doing all the damage. The dominant champion, who earned her eighth first-round finish, landed vicious elbows and punches. Ibragimova's eye was swollen shut even before the finishing sequence.
Cyborg (15-1, 1 NC) still has not lost since 2005. She hasn't even been to decision since 2008. The Brazilian has held the Invicta belt since 2013. This was her third title defense. There are precious few contenders for her in Invicta. Cyborg said this week that she'd be interested in a 140-pound catchweight bout with Holly Holm, but has ruled out going down to 135 for the UFC.
Ibragimova (9-2) was making her Invicta debut. The Russian had won seven in a row coming in.
In the co-main event, Livia Renata Souza proved herself so much more than just a grappler. The Invicta strawweight champion crushed DeAnna Bennett with a body kick in the opening two minutes and pounced with ground and pound. The TKO finish came at 1:30 of the first round.
Souza (9-0) won the title via fourth-round submission in a back-and-forth jiu-jitsu battle with Katja Kankaanpaa last April. The Brazilian has seven submission finishes. This was her first TKO. Souza, 24, has alluded she could enter the UFC with a win and it would be well deserved.
Raquel Pa'aluhi came in as a sizeable favorite. Colleen Schneider was a fairly late replacement. Neither of those things matter when they got in the cage. Schneider likely broke Pa'aluhi's nose with an up kick in the first round and the Hawaiian was never the same in Schneider's split decision (29-28, 28-28, 29-28) victory. Schneider used her tae kwon do background to counter time after time in the best, most consistent performance of her career.
Schneider (11-6) has won four in a row since falling by first-round TKO to Irene Aldana in February 2015. She put herself in line for a women's bantamweight title shot with the outing. Pa'aluhi (5-6) had won three in a row coming in.
It didn't take long for Amber Brown to extend her winning streak. The New Mexico native latched onto a guillotine early and finished late-notice replacement Shino VanHoose in the first round. Brown (7-1) has won four straight and could be in line for the next atomweight title shot against champion Ayaka Hamasaki.
Mizuki Inoue nearly finished with armbars in both the first and second rounds. She finally got it in the third. Inoue was slick on the ground and impactful on the feet against the very solid Lacey Schuckman. Inoue (11-4) has now won two in a row and three of her last five. At 21, she's one of the most promising young strawweights in the world.
Angela Hill showed everyone that maybe the UFC gave her too much of a quick hook. In her Invicta debut, the Ultimate Fighter 20 alum smashed Alida Gray by first-round TKO. Hill hit Gray with everything -- hands, kicks, knees and more before folding her up at 1:39. Hill (3-2) was released by the UFC after a loss to Rose Namajunas in October.
In the opener, Megan Anderson wore out Amber Leibrock in a violent, blue-collar performance, culminating in a third-round TKO. Anderson (5-2), an Aussie who now trains out of James Krause' Glory MMA & Fitness in Missouri, rebounded after an Invicta debut loss to Cindy Dandois in September.