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Invicta FC 20 results: Yana Kunitskaya shocks Tonya Evinger to win 135-pound title

Esther Lin, Invicta FC

One of the most dominant champions in women's mixed martial arts has been dethroned.

Yana Kunitskaya, a little-known Russian fighter, upset Tonya Evinger to win the Invicta FC women's bantamweight title Friday night in Kansas City. Kunitskaya finished Evinger with an armbar at just 1:59 of the first round, shocking the crowd. Evinger came in on a nine-fight winning streak.

"I'm so surprised that I finished this fast," Kunitskaya said afterward. "I was getting ready for five rounds."

Sports books had Evinger as much as an -810 favorite going in.

Evinger shot in for a takedown immediately to start the fight and earned side control right away. She worked from that position, landing punches and elbows to Kunitskaya's head. But Kunitskaya moved into a better spot on the bottom and got a hold of Evinger's arm.

Evinger attempted to pull herself out of the armbar by stepping on Kunitskaya's face. Referee Mike England told her to stop, though it was legal, and seconds later Evinger tapped.

Kunitskaya (10-2) was making her Invicta debut in the contest. She was coming off a second-round TKO of Yanan Wu at Fightspirit Championship 6 in Russia in September. Kunitskaya, 27, also owns a first-round TKO of Cindy Dandois.

Evinger (18-6) had not lost a fight since 2011 against Sara McMann. She was a perfect 6-0 under the Invicta banner before Friday night. Evinger, 35, won the vacant bantamweight title by beating Irene Aldana in July 2015.

The knock on Angela Hill when she was released by the UFC last year was that her ground game and wrestling just couldn't cut it at the highest level. She showed Friday night just how much she's improved on those things.

Hill defended her Invicta FC women's strawweight title by beating Kaline Medeiros via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 48-47) in the co-main event in Kansas City. Hill had great takedown defense, swept on some attempts, and even threatened in the first round with a triangle off her back.

While all of that was going on, Hill was still peppering Medeiros with beautiful counter punches, leg kicks and body kicks. It was an impressive technical performance. Hill, who has been at Alliance MMA in San Diego for about a year now, has evolved immensely.

"I wanted to turn a couple of losses into a bunch of wins," Hill said afterward.

Hill (6-2) has now won four in a row in Invicta after getting cut by the UFC following losses to elite strawweights Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres. This was her first title defense after winning the belt from Livia Renata Souza in May. Hill, 31, proved herself worthy of getting another UFC call.

Ashley Yoder made it a big night for The Ultimate Fighter 23 alums with a gorgeous grappling performance, submitting Amber Brown with an armbar at 2:31 of the second round. The two had great exchanges on the mat in the first round, with Yoder getting the better of things. In the second, the Team Quest product finished things by putting an extreme amount of torque on Brown's arm.

Yoder (5-1) has won four in a row overall. This was her Invicta debut. The 29-year-old fell in the TUF 23 elimination round to Kate Jackson. Brown (6-3) was moving up to 115 after falling to Ayaka Hamasaki in an Invicta atomweight title fight in May.

Fresh off her own appearance on TUF 23, J.J. Aldrich put forth a complete performance in defeating Lynn Alvarez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Aldrich found a home for her straight left early and often in a technical masterpiece. Still just 24 years old, the Denver native is a top prospect at strawweight.

Aldrich (4-1) fell to eventual winner Tatiana Suarez in the TUF 23 elimination round earlier this year. Alvarez (6-5) has lost two straight and four of her last five, but all of her losses have come against well-known competition.

Also on the card, former atomweight champion Herica Tiburcio beat Simona Soukupova via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Alexa Conners defeated Stephanie Egger by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) and Pam Sorensen beat Jessica Rose-Clark by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27).

In the opener, Miranda Maverick beat Samantha Diaz by submission with a rear-naked choke at 4:26 of the first round. Both were making their pro debuts. Diaz cut her hair Thursday in order to make weight.

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