Vanessa Porto tried and failed to pump the brakes on the Agnieszka Niedzwiedz hype.
Fast-twitch takedowns, occasional ground-and-pound and a few submission attempts were enough to drive the unbeaten Niedzwiedz to a unanimous decision over Porto in the Invicta Fighting Championships 23 headliner on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Niedzwiedz (10-0).
Porto (18-8) countered effectively and zeroed in on the Polish prospect’s base with kicks to the inside and outside of the lead leg. However, the momentum shifted throughout, as the two flyweight contenders struggled to find continuity. Niedzwiedz neutralized the Brazilian with a triangle from the bottom for much of the second round and withstood a late surge from the seasoned veteran in the third that left her fatigued and bleeding from the nose.
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In the flyweight co-main event, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 quarterfinalist Roxanne Modafferi disposed of Sarah D'Alelio with a volley of third-round elbows. D’Alelio (11-7) succumbed to blows 97 seconds into Round 3, her four-fight winning streak at an end.
Modafferi (21-13) backed up the Bellator MMA and Strikeforce alum with punches in the first round, drove her to the mat with a straight left and went to work, initiating scrambles and threatening with various submissions. She picked up the pace in the second, where she achieved full mount on multiple occasions, climbed to the back, battered D’Alelio with ground-and-pound and once again attacked with submissions. Modafferi had her counterpart reeling with straight punches early in the third round, executed a takedown and advanced to mount. From there, she unleashed a series of short elbows, one of which opened a deep gash on D’Alelio’s forehead. Blood poured from the wound, the stoppage following soon after.
The 34-year-old Modafferi has won four of her past five bouts.
Meanwhile, well-timed takedowns, positional control and steady ground-and-pound carried former Invicta champion Herica Tiburcio to a split decision against Tessa Simpson in a featured atomweight scrap. All three cageside judges saw it 29-28: Kevin Champion and Henry Gueary for Tiburcio, Ross Swanberg for Simpson.
Tiburcio (11-4) struck for takedowns in all three rounds and put forth maximum effort to bottle up the Austin Kickboxing Academy export on the ground. Simpson (5-2) integrated leg kicks and straight rights with a piercing jab but struggled to keep the Brazilian at bay and more often than not found herself trapped in tie-ups or fighting off her back.
The 24-year-old Tiburcio has gone 2-2 since a December 2014 upset of Michelle Waterson put her on the map.
Elsewhere, reigning Legacy Fighting Alliance titleholder Andrea Lee made a triumphant return to the Invicta cage, as she was awarded a split decision over Liz Tracy in a three-round flyweight showcase. Scores were 30-27 and 29-28 for Lee, 29-28 for Tracy.
Lee (7-2) mixed in a few takedowns, punished the promotional newcomer in the clinch with knees and leaned on her superiority in the standup exchanges, where she operated behind a stinging jab and pieced together two-, three- and four-punch combinations. Tracy (3-2) did her best work in the third round, as she countered an ill-advised takedown attempt, assumed top position and slipped into side control. However, Lee escaped to her feet and dodged whatever bullet might have been headed her way.
In other action, Kelly Faszholz earned a unanimous verdict over Elizabeth Phillips in a 15-minute clash at a 140-pound catchweight, prompting 30-27 scores across the board; Ediane Gomes eked out a split decision -- 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 -- against Pam Sorenson in a three-round featherweight battle; Tiffany Van Soest captured a unanimous verdict over Christine Ferea in a 15-minute encounter at 115 pounds, sweeping the scorecards with matching 29-28 marks; and Shaianna Rincon took a unanimous decision from Brooksie Bayard in a three-round bantamweight affair, drawing 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 nods from the judges.