Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp joined The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani Monday to break some news on her upcoming Invicta 15 card. Knapp revealed that the card, which will take place Jan. 16 from Orange County, California, will be headlined by a strawweight title fight and the next bout of Cris “”Cyborg”” Justino. All of this will air on UFC Fight Pass, the broadcaster of all Invicta events.
The card will be headlined by Invicta strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza, who will defend her title for the first time against DeAnna Bennett. Souza, who won the title in her last bout against Katja Kankaanpaa, is a submission artist known for grappling ability. She takes on Bennett, a wrestler with good striking, who also beat Kankaanpaa in her last bout.
Bennett missed weight in her last fight, which could be a concern going into this title match.
The biggest news was that the co-main event would feature “”Cyborg”,” who is the biggest star in the company. She will fight Cindy Dandois, tentatively at 140 pounds. The reason for that is that she is hoping to eventually drop to 135 pounds, which could bring an eventual Ronda Rousey showdown. It could be changed to a featherweight bout, though, as Knapp noted on the show.
Dandois is a judo fighter, like Rousey, though not nearly on the level of the former UFC champion. Her style, which goes against “Cyborg’s” striking, is another contrast of styles, though “Cyborg’s” path of destruction makes this bout hard to imagine being long given her history.
Knapp also announced three other bouts, though none have been “finalized.”
UFC veteran Lisa Ellis drops back down to the atomweight division when she takes on Invicta contender Amber Brown. Brown is making a beeline to the atomweight title picture, going undefeated in Invicta in her brief stint thus far. Ayaka Hamasaki is the champ of the division, so a win for Brown over a UFC vet like Ellis could push her into the next title shot. Meanwhile, Ellis looks to return to the 105-poound division after a failed run at 115 pounds in the UFC.
Speaking of dropping back to the 105-pound division, Angela Hill, who is also a castoff of the UFC, makes her Invicta debut when she takes on Invicta contender Jodie Esquibel. Esquibel is another one who is on a streak lately, and looking to earn a title shot against Hamasaki. Hill looked like a fish out of water in the UFC, so she drops back to 105 in an attempt to revamp her young MMA career.
Lastly, Knapp announced that a bantamweight bout is a foot between two of the top 135ers in the division, as Hawaii’s Raquel Pa’aluhi looks to continue her career resurgance against Mexican striker Irene Aldana. Aldana, who is coming off a title loss to Tonya Evinger, looks to reverse her fortunes here and get back into the title mix. Pa’aluhi has been charging up the rankings in recent bouts, showing an improvement in her grappling and continued confidence in her striking. Pa’aluhi is looking for a win and a possible title shot at Evinger.
Knapp also mentioned a future flyweight tournament that will crown an interim champion in the division. The champ, Barb Honchak, has been granted some time off, prompting the upcoming tournament. More matchups for Invicta 15 will be announced in the coming weeks.