What played out last night at Invicta FC 43 was a far cry from what the promotion was hoping to put on. Originally this card boasted a pair of title fights; Pearl Gonzalez vs. Erin Blanchfield for the vacant flyweight title and Montserrat Ruiz vs. Emily Ducote for the vacant strawweight title.
The flyweight title bout was scuppered when Gonzalez tested positive for COVID-19 and the and strawweight title fight was canceled yesterday, with the vague explanation of ‘due to COVID-19 restrictions’.
With those two fights canceled the event ran with five bouts and PFL loanee Kayla Harrison in the main event versus Courtney King.
Harrison came into this featherweight fight as PFL’s lightweight champion. This was the first time the two-time Olympic Judo gold medalist had ever appeared at this weight. But that didn’t seem to matter much.
In the first round the 7-0 Harrison and the 4-1 King traded leg kicks, before Harrison was able to step inside and hit her opponent with a crisp two punch combo. She followed that up with a kick to the body and a big overhand left. King tried to fire back in kind, but was not able to hit Harrison — who utilized good footwork and head movement.
After evading some offense Harrison rumbled forwards and attempted a takedown, which King stuffed. Harrison then pushed King back to the cage and held her there while she threw knees and punches. Moments later, after they separated, Harrison was able to get a big takedown by the fence. From there Harrison began landing hard and nasty ground and pound. One of her elbows smashed King across the bridge of her nose, opening a huge cut that soon bloodied King’s entire face.
With plenty of time left in the round, Harrison continued to tee off against an opponent who was virtually blinded. The fight could have been stopped there and no-one would have complained. Harrison opted to give up on the punches, though, and instead went for her trademark armbar. King was able to defend that and see the end of the round.
Between rounds we got a good look at King’s face and it looked like she was in a horror movie, with a huge vertical cut between her eyes. The doctor had a good look, but decided the fight could go on.
Harrison got another takedown early in the second. From there she threw more of those hard elbows. King, to her credit, also fired off some punches from the bottom and made Harrison’s job difficult by grabbing her wrists and attacking with a kimora. For some reason the referee stood the action up, despite both women putting work in on the ground.
It didn’t take long for Harrison to get the fight back on the mat, though. This time thanks to a slam, which ended with Harrison getting side control. From there Harrison looked to set up an armbar, but then opted for full mount. King turned away, giving Harrison lots of opportunities to rain down punches and elbows. That opened the cut on King’s face again, leading to huge smears of crimson being painted across the canvas.
Harrison then locked up a crucifex position and kept on punching. Finally, the referee had seen enough.
Harrison gets the TKO win in what was, if we’re honest, a brutal mismatch. Harrison remains one of the most exciting prospects in the sport, but no one needs to see her fight this level of competition ever again.
After the fight Harrison said she was disappointed that she didn’t get to do more stand-up. Here’s hoping, whether she gets another Invicta bout or the PFL is able to restart, she gets the chance to fight someone who can give her a challenge on the feet and on the ground.
In the co-main event Stephanie Geltmacher continued to show why her fights are can’t-miss entertainment. The Oklahoman rebounded from a thrilling decision loss to Victoria Leonardo at Invicta FC 36, to score a first round knockout over Caitlin Sammons.
The finish came after some back and forth in the clinch. Geltmacher ate some big knees and shoulder strikes from Sammons before being able to turn her opponent into the fence. With Geltmacher looking to change levels for a takedown, the referee stepped in and made both women separate. When the action restarted in the center of a cage, after a few swings and misses, Geltmacher landed a huge overhand right that laid Sammons flat out on her back. Geltmacher was able to throw a couple more strikes before the referee made it over to call off the fight.
With the win Geltmacher improves to 5-1 and cements her case for role in the Invicta FC flyweight title picture.
Before that Hope Chase took on Brittney Cloudy in the bantamweight division. Cloudy cut Chase early, above the right eye, with a crisp jab. Chase responded with flurry of punches and then some knees to the body. There were then some fierce exchanges against the fence with both women landing solid shots. Chase would then score a takedown. On the ground Cloudy used her long legs to threaten with an armbar attempt. After breaking free, Chase tried attacking with a cartwheel, which was fun.
The frenetic pace of the fight continued in the second round, with both women scoring with kicks and punches. Cloudy’s strikes were more clean, but Chase’s had an extra ferocity factor. Midway through the second the fight made its way to the ground and Cloudy was able to get on Chase’s back. From there she worked for a choke, but Chase was able to crawl to the fence and eventually turn herself into top position. Cloudy then went for a triangle, but Chase had her stacked too tightly to allow that to happen.
After some scrambling Chase eventually found herself on Cloudy’s back. That’s when she went for a rear naked choke. It seemed pretty loose at first, but she slowly locked up the position and Cloudy tapped with 30 seconds left in the round.
Also on the card Meaghan Penning had a successful pro debut, beating Alexa Culp by unanimous decision after a very close fight. In the pivotal final round, Culp was able to get Penning down. But, thanks to her offense off her back—including hard strikes, Penning was able to claim the round and the fight along with it.
Opening the event was a quick submission win for Juliana Miller. She snagged pro debutante Kendal Holowell with an armbar to move her record to 2-0.
Featherweight: Kayla Harrison def. Courtney King via TKO (ground and pound), round 2 (4:48).
Flyweight: Stephanie Geltmacher def. Caitlin Sammons via KO (punch), round 1 (4:28).
Featherweight: Hope Chase def. Brittney Cloudy by submission (rear naked choke), round 2 (4:37).
Strawweight: Meaghan Penning def. Alexa Culp via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Flyweight: Juliana Miller def. Kendal Holowell via submission (armbar), round 1 (2:49).