Invicta FC has missed Alexa Grasso, one of its most marketable fighters. She came back in a big way Friday night.
Grasso dominated Ultimate Fighter alum Jodie Esquibel in a bloody affair in the main event of Invicta FC 18 in Kansas City. At the end of the impressive performance, the Mexican star earned herself a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) victory. Grasso will likely fight next for the Invicta women's strawweight title against champion Angela Hill.
The undefeated Grasso (8-0) landed her 1-2 combination pretty much the entire fight, hurting Esquibel in the first round and bloodying her up in the second. The blood was flowing so much in the third that the referee paused the action so the doctor could come look at it. Grasso came close to finishing Esquibel in that final round as well.
Grasso, just 22 years old, had not fought in 17 months due to shoulder surgery and a broken hand. She's regarded as one of the top up-and-coming fighters in all of women's MMA and didn't do anything Friday to make anyone disagree with that. Esquibel (5-2) is a former Invicta atomweight contender and lost a controversial elimination fight on TUF 24 earlier this year.
In the co-main event, prospect Agnieszka Niedzwiedz made her Invicta debut by defeating Christine Stanley by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a key flyweight matchup. Niedwiedz (8-0) remained undefeated with a complete performance. The Poland native is just 21 years old. Stanley (5-2), an Alliance MMA product, was coming in on just four days notice.
Mizuki Inoue continues to prove herself as one of the best women's strawweights in the world. The Japanese star, filling in on short notice, defeated Lynn Alvarez via second-round submission (armbar). Inoue (11-4), also the Deep Jewels champion, has won four straight and has not lost since Grasso beat her in February 2015. Alvarez fell to 6-4.
Quick and crafty. That was the finish from Cindy Dandois against UFC veteran Jessamyn Duke. Dandois took Duke down with a judo throw and transitioned seamlessly into a straight armbar with her legs to end things by submission in just 1:33. Dandois (7-2) has won two in a row under the Invicta banner. Duke (3-5, 1 NC) has lost five straight between the UFC and Invicta.
Top 145-pound prospect and possible future Cris Cyborg opponent Megan Anderson won her third in a row by violent TKO of Peggy Morgan in the first round. Anderson's (7-2) right hands likely broke Morgan's jaw. Morgan (4-4), an Ultimate Fighter alum, was left with a badly swollen left cheek.
Aspen Ladd kept her undefeated record alive with a second-round TKO (ground and pound) victory over Jessica Hoy. Ladd (4-0), just 21 years old, is one of the best prospects in all of women's MMA. Hoy falls to 1-1.
In the opener, Sijara Eubanks was impressive in finishing Amberlynn Orr via TKO (ground and pound). Eubanks (2-1) only has one career loss, and it came against current UFC fight Katlyn Chookagian. Orr was making her pro debut.
Also on the card, Tessa Simpson defeated Simona Soukupova by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27). The decision was controversial, as many thought Soukupova should have won the third round 10-8 leading to a draw.