Megan Anderson stepped into the void left by the uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino.
The promising Australian waded through adversity to stop Charmaine Tweet with second-round punches and a head kick, as she claimed the interim featherweight crown in the Invicta Fighting Championships 21 headliner on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Anderson (8-2) closed the show 2:05 into Round 2.
Tweet (9-6) staggered and bloodied the Glory MMA and Fitness export in a tense opening stanza. Anderson recovered, responded and rattled the Canadian with a series of clubbing right hands that foreshadowed what was to come. For Tweet, it went downhill from there. Anderson punched into the clinch in the second round, connected with a fight-altering body kick and unleashed with a torrent of punches that had Tweet’s nose leaking like a sieve. A head kick led Tweet to turn her back and prompted the referee to act. Blood poured onto the canvas.
In the bantamweight co-main event, Raquel Pa’aluhi submitted Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Pannie Kianzad with a first-round rear-naked choke. Kianzad (8-2) bowed out 3:40 into Round 1, as she suffered her second defeat in as many appearances.
Pa’aluhi (6-5) struck for a takedown inside the first minute, passed smoothly to side control and softened the Swede with ground-and-pound. The situation only worsened for Kianzad. Pa’aluhi advanced to the back, set her hooks and ultimately slid her arms in place for the choke, the tapout becoming a formality.
The 26-year-old Pa’aluhi has won four of her last five fights.
Meanwhile, MMA Gold Fight Team prospect Aspen Ladd remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Cage Fury Fighting Championships alum Sijara Eubanks in a three-round bantamweight showcase. Ladd (5-0) swept the cards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores from the judges.
The 21-year-old Ladd walked down the Team Lloyd Irvin representative, controlled the center of the cage and fought in three- and four-punch bursts, often behind a stinging jab. Eubanks (2-2) had her moments -- she executed a takedown in the first round and scrambled into top position in the third -- but could match neither the pace nor the volume her opponent brought to the table.
In other action, Leah Letson (4-1) knocked out Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Elizabeth Phillips (5-5) with a head kick 1:18 into the first round of their matchup at 145 pounds; Andrea Lee (5-2) wrecked Jenny Liou (6-5) with a left hook to the liver and subsequent ground strikes 74 seconds into the first round of their flyweight encounter; Amy Cadwell Montenegro (8-2) took a unanimous decision from Celine Haga (10-14) in a three-round battle at 115 pounds, earning 29-28 marks from all three judges; and Christine Ferea (1-0) brought down Rachael Ostovich (3-3) with a head kick and follow-up punches 1:29 into the third round of their flyweight affair.