Tonya Evinger’s first Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title defense was methodical, efficient and occasionally dominant.
Facing a game opponent who refused to wilt under her pressure, “Triple Threat” retained the 135-pound strap with a unanimous decision over Colleen Schneider in the Invicta 17 headliner on Saturday at The Hangar at OC Fair in Costa Mesa, California. Two judges scored it 50-44 for Evinger, while a third saw it 49-45 in her favor.
“I think that was one of my worst performances,” she said. “I felt pretty good in the first two rounds. The last three rounds, I felt pretty sick. I felt like I should have won it in the first two rounds, but I just didn’t perform well.”
Evinger nearly made it short night. She caught Schneider with a short left hand near the fence in the opening frame and then pounced on her opponent’s back. Evinger spent the remainder of the period pummeling Schneider with punches and elbows from back control. Somehow, Schneider made it to the bell.
From there, Evinger (18-5, 6-0 Invicta) controlled the fight, but she was not nearly as overpowering. The Missouri native landed periodic punches, grinded her foe against the fence and landed occasional takedowns. Schneider (10-7, 1-1 Invicta), while not especially active offensively, managed to hang tough the rest of the way.
“I think I worked a little too much on certain areas and I didn’t work enough on other areas,” Evinger said, “but every training camp’s a new one, so let’s get back to it.”
The post-Ultimate Fighting Championship resurgence of Angela Hill continued in a major way in the co-main event, as she captured the Invicta strawweight crown with a signature performance against Livia Renata Souza. At the end of five competitive rounds, Hill emerged with a split decision -- 48-47, 47-48, 48-47 -- for her third straight victory within the all-female promotion.
“It’s a really good feeling. I wish it could’ve been more decisive,” Hill said. “Livia has a really tough chin. I felt like a hit her a few times and it didn’t do anything. She hit me hard, too. I wasn’t sure which way the judges were going to score it, but I’m happy they scored it for me.”
Hill (5-2, 3-0 Invicta) had to survive her share of precarious positions to claim promotional gold, particularly in the early going. Souza (9-1, 2-1 Invicta) landed takedowns in both the first and second rounds and appeared to have a tight guillotine secured in the opening stanza. Hill freed herself from that predicament, as well as a few others as the combatants engaged in entertaining scrambles on the ground. The momentum started to shift toward the end of the second frame, however, as Hill began to stuff Souza’s takedowns and land effective left jabs while moving in and out of danger.
“She went really hard for the sub in the first round, and I knew that after that she’d probably be tired,” Hill said. “It was easier to commit and sit down on my punches after that. I was happy with being able to get up this time as opposed to my other fights.”
Hill’s confidence began to grow as the bout progressed. She remained light on her feet and was effective both countering and initiating offense. “Overkill” appeared to land increasingly powerful punches down the stretch, but Souza simply shook them off and marched forward. The Brazilian had one final opportunity for victory in round five, but attempts at both an arm-in guillotine and armbar in the last 30 seconds were ultimately unsuccessful.
After absorbing the heavy artillery of Cristiane Justino last year, there apparently is not much that can faze Charmaine Tweet in the cage. The 39-year-old Canadian spent the majority of the first round of her featherweight showdown with Latoya Walker eating punching combinations to the mug, only to rally for a dramatic and spectacular knockout victory.
With her nose bloodied and the round nearly a lost cause, “Not So Sweet” ended the contest in stunning fashion, flooring her opponent with a perfectly placed spinning backfist. Four unanswered punches on the ground later, Tweet completed the shocking turnaround. The official time of the stoppage was the 3:41 mark of round one, giving Tweet (9-5, 2-2 Invicta) her third consecutive victory since the 46-second loss to Justino at Invicta 11. Walker falls to 5-1 and 1-1 in Invicta in defeat.
“There’s not much to say. We worked on if she was coming hard with the overhand right, how to get out of there and what to throw,” Tweet said. “I just felt the backfist was the thing to do. Look at my face: She was doing damage, so it was time to finish it.”
In a battle of Invicta debutantes, Kaline Medeiros (7-4, 1-0 Invicta) overwhelmed Alline Serio (9-6, 0-1 Invicta) in a featured strawweight contest. A steady stream of ground-and-pound from the 37-year-old Brazilian brought a halt to the bout at the 4:04 mark of round two. Medeiros has now won four straight fights, a run that includes victories in Bellator MMA and Legacy Fighting Championship.
While “The Dark Angel” controlled much of the action with multiple takedowns, she turned the tide for good by rocking Serio with an overhand right midway through the second period. With her opponent clearly in a dazed state, Medeiros landed a takedown near the fence and went to work, landing elbows to the body and then repeated right hands to the face before referee Mike Beltran was forced to intervene.
In other action, Megan Anderson (6-2, 2-1 Invicta) closed out the opening stanza with a flourish to finish Amanda Bell (3-4, 1-2 Invicta) at the 5:00 mark of the frame at featherweight; Christine Stanley (5-1, 2-0 Invicta) outpointed Shannon Sinn (2-3, 1-2 Invicta) in a flyweight tilt -- 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28; Rachael Ostovich (4-2, 2-1 Invicta) edged Ariel Beck (4-3, 0-1 Invicta) via split decision at 125 pounds -- 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29; and Laura Howarth (3-1, 1-0 Invicta) took a split decision over Alexa Conners (0-1, 0-1 Invicta) at bantamweight -- 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.