Twenty-five year old sensation Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza (9-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. earned a five-round unanimous decision over a game “Rowdy” Bec Hyatt (4-! 2) of Brisbane, Australia to become the first-ever Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight (115 pounds) champion, in the main event of a star-studded 13-bout women’s Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City on Saturday, Jan. 5, live on InvictaFC.com.
Esparza effectively weathered the storm brought on by the 23-year-old Hyatt, who took the title fight on just over a week’s notice after Esparza’s original opponent, Claudia Gadelha, was forced to withdraw from the matchup due to a broken nose sustained in training. Hyatt was originally slated to face Joanne Calderwood on the main card.
Esparza repeatedly took Hyatt down whenever the Australian attempted to explode on her feet. Esparza controlled the action on the ground, but was unable to finish Hyatt at any point.
In the bantamweight (135 pounds) co-main event and a much-ant! icipated rematch, Alexis Davis (13-5) of Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada avenged a 2010 loss to fellow top contender Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (15-8) of Sioux Falls, S.D., putting Baszler to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the third round (:58) of their matchup.
Davis and Baszler engaged in a competitive battle on the mat for much of the first two rounds before finishing the second stanza on their feet, exchanging blows.
In the outset of the third frame, the two traded shots on their feet again before Baszler slipped and gave Davis the opportunity to take Baszler’s back and secure the finishing hold. Baszler refused to tap out and, instead, went to sleep, prompting the referee to stop the action at the 58 second mark of the round.
In other Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt main card action,Leslie “The Peacemaker” S! mith (5-2-1) of Pleasant Hill, Calif. engaged Raquel “Rocky” Pennington (3-3) of Colorado Springs, Colo. in a three-round firefight, outslugging Pennington to earn a unanimous decision victory in bantamweight action.
Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio(7-3) of San Jose, Calif. effectively neutralized the dangerous punching power of Amanda “Lioness of the Ring” Nunes (7-3) of Salvador Bahia, Brazil, taking the bantamweight fight to the mat repeatedly before earning a unanimous decision. An illegal upkick to the face by Nunes in the second round cost her a point on each of the judges’ scorecards.
Ediane Gomes(9-2) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. notched her second consecutive Invicta FC victory and her third straight win overall, by taking a unanimous decision from Hiroko Yamanaka (12-3) of Kisarazu, Japan in a featherweight (145 pounds) tilt.
Joanne Calderwood(5-0) of Glasgow, Scottland used her long reach to keep Muay Thai champion and Matt-Lindland protégé Livia Von Plettenberg (1-1) at bay and punish Von Plettenberg with a mix of front kicks to the face and knee and elbow strikes for the majority of three rounds before being awarded a unanimous decision.
In preliminary card action, Veronica Rothenhausler (1-0) of Reno, Nev. made an explosive professional debut, crumbling Katalina Malungahu of Las Vegas, Nev. to the canvas with a right hand to the chin in the first round (1:12) of their featherweight matchup.
(Photo Credit: Esther Lin / Invicta Fighting Championships)