A slow start did nothing to deter Emily Ducote.
The Bellator MMA veteran waded through some early adversity, strengthened her standing in the Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight division and took a unanimous decision from Juliana Lima in their Invicta 40 main event on Thursday in Kansas City, Kansas. Ducote swept the scorecards with identical 29-28 marks from all three judges.
Lima enjoyed some success in the first round, particularly at close range. She outfitted her clinch with knees and elbows, made the most of her three-inch height advantage and held her own in space, where she tagged Ducote with jabs and occasional uppercuts. However, the approach proved unsustainable. Ducote executed takedowns in the second and third rounds, opened a cut under the Brazilian’s right eye with a slashing elbow and applied maximum pressure when the two women were upright.
In the aftermath of Invicta 40 “Ducote vs. Lima,” here are three matches that ought to be made:
Emily Ducote vs. Kanako Murata: Ducote has rattled off three wins across her past four outings—a run of sustained success that includes a first-round finish against Janaisa Morandin. The lone hiccup in that stretch resulted in a split decision loss to Murata in the Invicta 38 headliner on Nov. 1, the setback costing her the promotion’s vacant strawweight crown. The 26-year-old Murata sports an 11-1 record and finds herself on a seven-fight winning streak. With no clear No. 1 contender established at 115 pounds and due to the close nature of their first encounter, a Ducote-Murata rematch seems not only just but inevitable.
Alesha Zappitella vs. Ashley Cummins: The 4-foot-11 Zappitella continued to distance herself from back-to-back losses to Viviane Pereira and Kanna Asakura, as she outgrappled Lindsey VanZandt to a split decision in the atomweight co-main event. Scores were 29-27 and 30-27 for Zappitella, 29-28 for VanZandt. Operating out of the Scorpion Fighting System gym in Brighton, Michigan, Zappitella leaned on takedowns, positional control and superiority in the scrambles throughout the first half of the fight, then fought through fatigue to hang on to her second straight victory. Cummins last fought at Invicta 39 in February, when she dropped a unanimous decision to an overweight Jinh Yu Frey in a failed bid to capture the organization’s atomweight title. The 105-pound throne now sits vacant.
Chelsea Chandler vs. Pam Sorenson: Invicta appears to have a potential star on its hands in Chandler, a confident and charismatic Nick Diaz protégé who has rebounded from a decision loss to Kerri Kenneson in her professional debut with three consecutive wins. In her latest effort, the Stockton, California, native moved up to 145 pounds, floored the previously unbeaten Olivia Parker with clean power punches and submitted her with a rear-naked choke. Parker capitulated 65 seconds into Round 1. Considering the shallow nature of the featherweight division, Chandler may have pushed to the front of the line that has formed behind the current champion. Sorenson laid claim to the vacant 145-pound title in August, when she was awarded a unanimous decision over Kaitlin Young at Invicta 36.
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