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On FIGHT PASS: Grasso successful in return


Watching Alexa Grasso dominate Jodie Esquibel in the main event of Invicta FC 18, you would never know that the Mexican standout was fighting for the first time in nearly 18 months.

A series of injuries put the 22-year-old on the sidelines, costing her an opportunity to fight for the strawweight title on multiple occasions and slowing her ascent towards stardom, but Grasso was able to pick up right where she left off in her entertaining win over Mizuki Inoue in February 2015 with a one-sided beatdown of the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy veteran on Friday evening in “The Show Me State.”

From the outset, Grasso was able to find a home with her strikes and make Esquibel pay every time she closed the distance and hunted for takedowns, attacking with elbows to the side of the head while keeping the fight standing throughout. In the second round, the accumulation of precise strikes opened up Esquibel and started the bloody flowing and in the third, Grasso turned it up another notch, searching for the finish.

Though she didn’t get the stoppage, the talented Grasso made it clear that she is still the top contender in the strawweight division, adding another victory to her resume and setting the stage for a potential showdown with current champion Angela Hill in the not too distant future.

Agnieszka Niedzwiedz vs. Christine Stanley

Returning for the first time in over two years, Niedwiedz picked up right where she left off, collecting an impressive victory over the perennial tough out Stanley in Friday’s co-main event to push her record to a perfect 8-0.

Even though the bout came together less than two weeks ago, the bad blood between these two was evident throughout the abbreviated build-up and was on display in the cage, with Stanley talking trash and taunting her 21-year-old Polish opponent throughout the first round. But it had no impact on the emotions or approach of Niedzwiedz, who remained focused and dictating the terms of the fight, distancing herself from Stanley as “Knuckles” started to tire.

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The star of the show was the timing on Niedzwiedz’ takedowns, as she ducked under for textbook driving double legs in both the second and third round, working Stanley over on the mat in both instances. Though she couldn’t get the stoppage she predicted, Niedwiedz announced herself as a contender in the flyweight division with a dominant performance in her Invicta FC debut.

Official Result: Agnieszka Niedzwiedz def. Christine Stanley by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Mizuki Inoue vs. Lynn Alvarez

Friday night in Kansas City, Inoue showed yet again why she is one to watch in the strawweight division.

Just 21-years-old, but already boasting 15 fights under her belt, the Japanese standout turned in a dominant effort against the returning Alvarez, using her superior grappling skills to collect a second-round submission win. Since suffering back-to-back losses to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Alexa Grasso, Inoue has posted four straight victories, the last three all coming by way of armbar.

With the 115-pound ranks shifting into the spotlight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s dominance in the Octagon and the depth of the division shining through in Invicta FC, the young veteran Inoue is definitely one to keep an eye on going forward.

Official Result: Mizuki Inoue def. Lynn Alvarez by Submission (Armbar) at 3:00 of Round 2

Cindy Dandois vs. Jessamyn Duke

Heading into this bantamweight contest, Dandois made it clear that she had no intention of standing with Duke and moments into the contest, the Belgian “Battlecat” shot for a single leg, briefly dragging the former Ultimate Fighter contestant to the floor.

Though Duke was able to get back to her feet, she couldn’t separate from the clinch and Dandois took full advantage. The veteran used a hip toss along the cage to get the fight to the mat for a second time and after landing in side control, Dandois instantly attacked Duke’s exposed left arm, trapping it between her legs in a nasty armbar that forced a quick, demoralizing tap for “The Gun.”

Now riding a tidy two-fight winning streak, the 31-year-old Dandois has clearly found a comfort zone inside the Invicta FC cage of late and stands as a dangerous, durable veteran presence near the top of the bantamweight division.

Official Result: Cindy Dandois def. Jessamyn Duke by Submission (Armbar) at 1:33 of Round 1

Megan Anderson vs. Peggy Morgan

Over her last two fights, Anderson has established herself as the most promising young fighter in the featherweight division and Friday’s performance against Morgan cemented the fact that the powerful Australian striker definitely has championship potential.

Seconds into the bout, Anderson blasted Morgan with a clean right hand, chased it with another and never gave the former Ultimate Fighter contestant a moment to breath and recover. Heavy blows continued to crash home the lower left side of Morgan’s face began to swell aggressively, with Anderson eventually dropping “The Daywalker” with series of big shots along the cage that brought the bout to a close.

Having now won three straight by way of stoppage, the Glory MMA & Fitness product has established herself as one of the top contenders in the 145-pound division and could eventually find herself sharing the cage with reigning Invicta FC featherweight champ Cris Cyborg.

Official Result: Megan Anderson def. Peggy Morgan by Technical Knockout (Strikes) at 4:09 of Round 1

Simona Soukupova vs. Tessa Simpson

Simpson made her Invicta FC a winning one, showing a diversity striking arsenal and penchant for throwing (and landing) combinations in earning a unanimous decision win over the more seasoned Soukupova. The Austin, Texas native entered on a two-fight winning streak and turned in a solid effort to maintain her moment and establish herself as someone to watch in the atomweight division.

Through the opening 10 minutes, Simpson was the one dictating the terms of the exchanges, picking off Soukupova as she came forward, landing two, three or four to every single Soukupova managed to crash home, but that shifted dramatically in the closing round.

Needing a finish, Soukupova pressed forward ferociously in the third, causing Simpson’s eye to swell up thanks to a sharp inside elbow and dropping “The Typhoon” late in the fight, sending it to the scorecards, where all three officials saw the fight in favor of Simpson.

Official Result: Tessa Simpson def. Simona Soukupova by Unanimous Decsion (29-28, 29-28, 29-27)

Aspen Ladd vs. Jessica Hoy

One of the brightest prospects on the bantamweight division, Ladd missed weight for this her fourth professional appearance, all of which have come inside the Invicta FC cage, but it didn’t have an impact on her performance.

The tandem traded shots and battled for position in the clinch throughout the opening five minutes, with Ladd peppering Hoy with jabs and the Syndicate MMA representative countering with several clean shots of her own in a close first round. Though Ladd struggled to get Hoy to the canvas in the first, she managed to bring the bout to the floor early in the second and from there, the 21-year-old prospect went to work.

A swift, slick transition to mount prompted Hoy to cover up and give up her back as Ladd began raining down punches and elbows, prompting the referee to take a closer look. Though several of Ladd’s shot were being blocked and landing on Hoy’s forearms, the unbroken rhythm of her attack and Hoy’s inability to stop the onslaught and escape the mount resulted in the bout being stopped.

Official Result: Aspen Ladd def. Jessica Hoy by Technical Knockout (Strikes) at 3:14 of Round 2

Sijara Eubanks vs. AmberLynn Orr

Following a lengthy and largely successful amateur career, Orr made her professional debut on Friday night in Kansas City, but Eubanks was quick to dash her dreams of posting a victory.

After a brief feeling out period to start the bout, Eubanks took the fight to the floor, playing to her pedigree and forcing Orr to defend. While the Invicta FC newcomer threatened with a triangle from bottom, Eubanks defended well and went on the offensive from side control, unloading a torrent of heavy punches that forced referee Greg Franklin to step in an bring the bout to a halt.

Official Result: Sijara Eubanks def. AmberLynn Orr by Technical Knockout (Strikes) at 4:41 of Round 1