Cristiane Cyborg stopped Marloes Coenen in the fourth round. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As she was in their initial meeting, Marloes Coenen was plenty game against Cristiane Justino on Saturday, but just like their Strikeforce bout in 2010, “Cyborg” was simply too powerful for the valiant Dutchwoman in the end.
Justino (12-1, 1 NC, 2-0 Invicta) stopped Coenen (21-6, 1-1 Invicta) with strikes 4:02 into the fourth round of the Invicta Fighting Championships 6 headliner at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo., to become the promotion’s inaugural featherweight champion. In defeat, Coenen became the first opponent to drag the Brazilian into the championship frames. “Rumina” was stopped at the 3:40 mark of round three in their first encounter at Strikeforce “Miami.”
Relying on a more measured pace than usual, Cyborg was never in real danger against the 32-year-old submission specialist. Justino connected with power punches on the feet, slammed her foe to canvas repeatedly and landed intelligent ground-and-pound from above. Despite a revamped strength and conditioning program, Coenen still had no answer for the physical prowess of the Chute Boxe representative, as Cyborg consistently wound up in top position after stymieing Coenen’s takedown shots.
Even though she landed strikes almost at will from top position, the Brazilian on several occasions elected to allow Coenen back to her feet rather than attack inside her guard. For the most part, there were no wrong choices for Justino on this night. A right hook dropped Coenen in round one, and another right to the jaw spelled the beginning of the end for “Rumina” in the fourth frame. With her opponent dazed, Justino mounted one last assault from above before referee John McCarthy mercifully called a halt to the contest.
Only a temporary lapse in judgment was able to thwart the momentum of Claudia Gadelha (11-0, 1-0 Invicta) in the co-main event. Despite losing a point for landing an illegal knee in the first round of her strawweight showdown with Ayaka Hamasaki (9-1, 0-1 Invicta), Gadelha dominated her Japanese opponent, finishing the contest with strikes on the ground 3:58 into the third period. With the win, Gadelha earns a 115-pound title shot against champion Carla Esparza.
Clearly the bigger, stronger fighter, Gadelha imposed her will through takedowns and suffocating top control. The Brazilian’s ground-and-pound increased in intensity in the third round, where a flurry of heavy punches and hammerfists forced referee Greg Franklin to intervene on Hamasaki’s behalf.
Gadelha set the tone early, landing a takedown in the first round and maintaining control from top position throughout the period. However, the Brazilian landed a glancing knee to the head of a seated Hamasaki just as the stanza expired, resulting in the point deduction.
Elsewhere, solid submission defense early and clean punches late allowed Lauren Taylor (7-0, 2-0 Invicta) to remain unbeaten, as she captured a hard-fought unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) against Sarah D’Alelio (7-4, 3-2 Invicta) in a bantamweight tilt. The bout favored D’Alelio in round one, with both fighters jockeying for position for the majority of the period. However, Taylor survived several submission attempts from “The Monster” in the opening five minutes.
Taylor began to find a rhythm on the feet in the second frame, landing straight punches while D’Alelio attacked with uppercuts. The third round featured several spirited exchanges, but it was Taylor who appeared to land the cleaner strikes.
The action in the flyweight bout between Leslie Smith (6-3-1, 3-1-1 Invicta) and Jennifer Maia (7-3-1, 1-1 Invicta) was fast and furious throughout, but it was Smith who ultimately landed in greater volume to earn a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). The Cesar Gracie Fight Team member set a frenetic pace from the outset, moving forward and attacking Maia with punching combinations and kicks.
Maia refused to wilt, however, as she proved more than willing to go toe-to-toe with her aggressive opponent. Smith was most dominant in round three, where she staggered Maia with an elbow and followed up with a flurry of punches and knees against the cage. Maia responded with a trip takedown, but Smith reversed to top position and closed out the frame landing a flurry of ground-and-pound from above.
Former Invicta atomweight queen Jessica Penne (11-2, 3-1 Invicta) choked out Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc (8-7, 1-2 Invicta) with just three seconds remaining in the opening frame in their 105-pound clash. Penne, who relinquished her title to Michelle Waterson in a thrilling contest in April, took down Rivera-Calanoc with less than two minutes to go in the period. The Californian quickly moved to full mount and attempted to cinch a guillotine choke.
Penne eventually relinquished the hold and unloaded with ground-and-pound, forcing Rivera-Calanoc to surrender her back. From there, Penne trapped her foe in a body triangle and gradually tightened her grip on the choke. “The Night Queen” held on for as long as she could but was forced to ask out of the match just before the round expired.
Noted muay Thai practitioner Joanne Calderwood (7-0, 3-0 Invicta) earned a unanimous decision over a game Norma Rueda Center (2-1, 0-1 Invicta) in a featured 115-pound affair. Judges scored the bout 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for the Glasgow, Scotland, native.
Calderwood controlled much of the contest with her striking, using her kicks to keep the wrestling-minded Center at a safe distance. The Dinky Ninjas product thwarted the majority of Center’s takedown attempts in the early going while stalking her foe and landing knees and elbows against the cage. Center, who took the bout on two weeks’ notice, landed a pair of takedowns in the final frame but spent much of the period fighting off a Calderwood armbar.
In her Invicta debut, 18-year-old Japanese prospect Mizuki Inoue (6-1, 1-0 Invicta) established herself as a person of interest in the strawweight division, taking a unanimous verdict over popular Australian Bec Hyatt (5-3, 1-2 Invicta). All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 in favor of the Jewels veteran.
Inoue utilized a versatile offensive attack in close quarters, punishing Hyatt with leg kicks, elbows and uppercuts against the fence. Inoue spent much of the second stanza landing ground-and-pound from top position after scoring a trip takedown. Hyatt used aggressive striking to mount a rally in the final round, but it was not enough to earn the victory.
Vicious knees in the clinch carried Miriam Nakamoto (2-0, 1 NC, 1-0 Invicta) to a first-round technical knockout victory over Duda Yankovich (1-2, 0-1 Invicta) in a bantamweight clash. “The Queen of Mean” wasted little time in punishing her opponent with knees and sharp elbows against the cage, dropping Yankovich early in the opening round. Not much later, Nakamoto dropped Yankovich again with a knee, and after a few follow-up strikes, referee Mike England halted the contest 2:08 into the period.
To kick of the pay-per-view portion of the card, Tecia Torres (3-0, 3-0 Invicta) captured an entertaining unanimous decision victory (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) over Rose Namajunas (2-1, 2-1 Invicta) in a battle of young strawweight fighters.
Both women were extremely aggressive in the first round, but the highlight of the frame occurred when Namajunas attempted a flying armbar -- the same move she used to defeat Kathina Catron at Invicta FC 5. Torres defended the maneuver well, but Namajunas eventually transitioned to another armbar on the ground and appeared to have Torres in serious danger. However, “The Tiny Tornado” escaped. From there, Torres landed effective combinations for much of the contest and weathered a late takedown from Namajunas in the final frame.
In preliminary action, Jackson’s MMA product Emily Kagan (3-1, 1-1 Invicta) captured a split verdict (30-27, 30-27, 28-29) against St. Louis police officer Ashley Cummins (3-2, 1-2 Invicta) at 115 pounds; and Austria native Livia von Plettenberg (2-1, 1-1 Invicta) defeated Oklahoman Kathina Catron, who took the bout on 24 hours’ notice, via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) at 125 pounds in the opening bout. Another scheduled prelim between Tamikka Brents and Ediane Gomes was scratched when Brents suffered a knee injury warming up backstage.