Invicta Fighting Championships is headed back to the West Coast with a championship doubleheader.
While the promotion will stage Invicta 24 on July 15 from its familiar digs at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp has announced that Invicta 25 will take place on Aug. 31 and emanate from the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California, the original home of World Extreme Cagefighting and current host of Tachi Palace Fights.
Knapp revealed the news on Monday during an appearance on “The MMA Hour” with Ariel Helwani.
The card will be headlined with a pair of fights for vacant titles. With former bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger departed for the Ultimate Fighting Championship at face another former titlist from the promotion, “Cyborg” Cristiane Justino, for the UFC women's featherweight title at UFC 214, former Invicta title challenger Yana Kunitskaya will face Raquel Pa'aluhi to crown a new 135-pound champion. In the co-feature, former Invicta strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza seeks to begin a second title reign, taking on Jodie Esquibel to fill the throne left behind by the woman who beat Souza, UFC 115-pounder Angela Hill.
It is the third consecutive title fight for the 27-year-old Kunitskaya, who made her Invicta debut last November in a title fight with the aforementioned Evinger. “Foxy” pulled off an upset, taking Evinger's title with an armbar in less than two minutes. However, the bout was later ruled a no contest by the Missouri Office of Athletics due to referee Mike England incorrectly warning Evinger for placing her foot on Kunitskaya's face to defend the armlock, which is legal, leading directly to the tap. At Invicta 22 in March, Evinger rectified the situation, choking the Russian out in the second round.
Pa'aluhi, 26, has won four of her last five bouts. After picking up wins over Kaitlin Young and Ediane Gomes, she dropped a split decision to Colleen Schneider at Invicta 15 in January 2016. She rebounded 12 months later, choking out Sweden's Pannie Kianzad at Invicta 21.
Following her split decision title loss to Angela Hill in May of last year, Souza got back on track in a major way in March. The 26-year-old Brazilian ran roughshod over Invicta atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki, sending Hamasaki back to 105 pounds with a brutal barrage of punches in less than two minutes.
The year 2016 wasn't kind to Esquibel, who was bounced from “The Ultimate Fighter 23” after a split decision loss to Ashley Yoder, then dropped a unanimous verdict last July to Alexa Grasso at Invicta 18. This year has started better for the 31-year-old American, taking a split over DeAnna Bennett in March inside the Invicta cage.
Invicta 25 will be the fourth California card for the company, having previously staged its 11th, 15th and 17th editions in the Golden State.