It’s been eight years since Sarah Kaufman was the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion. After Saturday night, she could be in line for more gold.
The veteran Canadian fighter was dominant in beating Pannie Kianzad via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in the main event of Invicta FC 27 in Kansas City. Kaufman bloodied Kianzad on the feet and was just as impressive when the fight hit the ground. The ZUMA MMA product was the better fighter in every aspect of the bout.
The bout was Kaufman’s first bout in North American since a 2015 loss to Valentina Shevchenko. Kaufman was released by the UFC thereafter. She fought and beat Jessica-Rose Clark last year in South Korea. Kaufman had not fought for Invicta since 2013.
Afterward, Kaufman called out to Invicta president Shannon Knapp for a bantamweight title shot. The belt is currently vacant with former champion Yana Kunitskaya departing for the UFC.
“Shannon Knapp, where’s that title belt?” Kaufman said. “I want it around my waist. It’s nice and shiny. I like shiny things.”
Kaufman (19-4, 1 NC) still only has four losses on her record — Ronda Rousey, Marloes Coenen, Alexis Davis and Shevchenko. She was once known as the best women’s bantamweight fighter in the world and she hopes to get back to that level. Kaufman, 32, said in the post-fight interview with Leslie Smith that it was her goal to bring punishment Saturday night, even though “Canadians are known for being nice.”
“I do need to be nasty,” Kaufman said.
Kianzad (8-3), who missed weight Friday, has now lost three straight bouts in Invicta. The Sweden native was good enough to earn a title shot against Tonya Evinger in 2015, but missed weight before that bout as well. Kianzad, 26, remains a tough out in the division and hung in with Kaufman for 15 minutes.
In the co-main event, Vanessa Porto cemented herself as one of the best women’s flyweight fighters in the world. Porto finished Mariana Morais via submission with a rear-naked choke at 4:19 of the first round — and really made it look easy once the fight got to the ground.
Porto (21-8) has won two straight and five of her last seven bouts. She is nearing a rematch with Jennifer Maia for the Invicta flyweight belt. And the 33-year-old Brazilian said that’s what she’s hoping for in the near future.
“I want to go for the title shot next,” Porto said.
Morais (12-6) has lost two straight after training together a pair of wins in a row. The Brazilian is still just 22 years old, though she has been fighting since 2012.
It wasn’t easy for any second of the 15 minutes for Sharon Jacobson. But “The Dreamcatcher” pulled off a close unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) win over the debuting kickboxing star Ashley Nichols. Jacobson’s wrestling and control on top seemed to be the difference in the decision, but Nichols was able to do more damage throughout.
Jacobson (5-2) got back to her winning ways following a stunning loss to Kali Robbins in her last fight back in August. The 34-year-old Colorado native has won five of her last six fights and should be on the short list of top strawweight contenders. The 31-year-old Nichols (3-2), a star for Glory Kickboxing, could be one to watch in the division with her striking prowess.
Loma Lookboonmee seems like a name to watch for the future after her Invicta debut. The veteran Thai boxer dominated Mellissa Wang by unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-26) using an array of knees to the body and elbows to face. Lookboonmee, who has more than 300 Muay Thai fights on her record, is only 21 years old. She could make serious waves in the atomweight division.
Ashley Cummins rebounded from a loss to Jinh Yu Frey by defeating Stephanie Alba by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). Alba, making her Invicta debut, had no answer for Cummins’ wrestling and grappling. Cummins (6-4) remains one of the better atomweights in Invicta.
Also on the card, Mallory Martin defeated Tiffany Masters by second-round TKO, Helen Peralta finished Jade Ripley by first-round TKO, Felicia Spencer defeated Akeela Al-Hameed by unanimous decision and Brogan Walker-Sanchez knocked off Cheri Muraski by split decision.