Shannon Knapp and the Invicta FC brass have some decision-making to do regarding the atomweight division. Jinh Yu Frey defeated Minna Grusander in a tightly-contested split decision to defend her Invicta atomweight title last Saturday. However, she already has two eager suitors for the next crack at her title.
Ashley Cummins and Alesha Zappitella have both called for title shots following Frey’s victory.
— Ashley Smashley (@SmashleyMMA) December 16, 2018
— Alesha Zappitella (@aleshazapp) December 16, 2018
Let’s take a look at both ladies and their recent histories.
Atomweight record: 3-1 (not including 110-lb. catchweight victory)
Notable wins: Amber Brown, Jessica Delboni, Stephanie Alba
Cummins is 4-1 since leaving the strawweight division, where she fought competition like Joanne Calderwood, Alexa Grasso and Emily Kagan. In her first fight since dropping down, she submitted Nicole Smith with a knee-on-neck choke in a 110-lb. catchweight bout. Cummins has went on to earn unanimous decisions wins over Brown and Alba.
In her most recent fight, she picked up one of the biggest wins of her career against previously-undefeated Brazilian prospect Jessica Delboni.
Cummins’ lone atomweight loss did come to the champion, Frey, in July 2017. Frey took a close unanimous decision with a wrestling-heavy approach. Some thought Cummins could’ve gotten the nod for the offense she showcased off her back, coming close to sinking an armbar.
Right before her most recent fight, Cummins moved camps from St. Louis to San Diego, where she’s been training at San Diego Combat Academy. At her new gym, she regularly trains with the likes of Liz Carmouche, Pearl Gonzalez and Bellator flyweight queen Ilima-Lei MacFarlane. She’d welcome the opportunity to showcase her new skills in a rematch against Frey for the title.
Atomweight record: 3-0
Notable wins: Amber Brown, Jillian DeCoursey, Jayme Hinshaw, Miao Ding
Zappitella fought on the same card that Frey vs. Grusander II took place, and called for her own title shot. She is undefeated as a professional with an impressive resume for someone just five fights into her career. Zappitella, at just 4’11”, has fought has heavy as flyweight, when she defeated Miao Ding for the Kunlun Fight MMA flyweight title in February 2017.
She also holds a decision win over current King of the Cage atomweight champion Jayme Hinshaw in what marked the professional debut for each fighter.
Both of Zappitella’s Invicta wins have come in her natural weight class of 105 against DeCoursey and Brown. Her most recent win was arguably the best of her career thus far; Brown’s a former Invicta title challenger, who fought Ayaka Hamasaki for the title back in March 2016. Brown holds wins over Tessa Simpson, Shino VanHoose and Catherine Costigan. Zappitella was able to take Brown down early and often en route to earning the judges’ nod.
Frey will very likely defend her belt against either Cummins or Zappitella. The question is who. Right now, only Knapp knows.