Alesha Zappitella Shoulder Choke Submits Ashley Cummins, Nets Invicta Atomweight Belt

Alesha Zappitella channeled her inner Ovince St. Preux and gave a figurative nod to Jason Von Flue when Invicta Fighting Championships gold was on the line.

The 4-foot-11 Scorpion Fighting System standout dispatched Ashley Cummins with a shoulder choke in the fourth round of their Invicta 42 headliner, as she captured the promotion’s vacant atomweight title on Thursday at the Police Athletic League in Kansas City, Kansas. Submitted for the first time in her 13-fight career, Cummins (7-6, 4-6 Invicta) conceded defeat 1:20 into Round 4.

Zappitella (8-2, 5-1 Invicta) trudged through considerable difficulty across the first 10 minutes. Cummins flexed her superiority in the standup exchanges, staggered her counterpart more than once with thudding right hands and largely nullified her wrestling advances. However, the tide began to shift in Round 3, where Zappitella executed a takedown inside the first minute, passed guard and dropped short elbows to the head. Early in the fourth, she countered an ill-advised guillotine from Cummins, settled in top position, pinned the arm in place and moved toward the fight-ending choke.

Meanwhile, Lisa Verzosa rebounded from her first career defeat and kept her name on the shortlist of title contenders at 135 pounds with a split decision over Raquel Canuto in the three-round bantamweight co-main event. All three judges scored it 29-28: Kevin Champion for Canuto, Greg DiVilbiss and Steven Graham for Verzosa.

Verzosa (6-1, 5-1 Invicta) routinely beat the Hawaiian to the punch, made seamless stance switches and struck in combination. Perhaps most importantly, she denied all of Canuto’s attempted takedowns, trapping the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in a kickboxing match. Canuto (6-7, 3-4 Invicta)—who had not fought in more than three years—sprang to life with a strong third round, where she capitalized on a fatigued opponent and connected with knees from the clinch, counter right hands and kicks to the body and leg. However, the finish she needed was never within reach.

Elsewhere, Parana Vale Tudo export Jessica Correa Delboni leaned on powerful punching combinations and airtight takedown defense, as she laid claim to a unanimous decision over Herica Tiburcio in a three-round strawweight showcase. Delboni (10-2, 2-1 Invicta) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 nods from the judges.

In her first appearance since May 20, 2017, Tiburcio (11-5, 3-3 Invicta) was hampered by a slow start and a troubling habit of carrying her chin high. Delboni was the aggressor throughout and seized control with two-, three- and four-punch volleys, forward pressure and knees to the body from the clinch. Tiburcio seemed to find herself in the second half of the match and let her hands fly with more conviction, though the former atomweight champion’s efforts ultimately fell short.

Delboni has rattled off three wins across her past four outings.

In other action, Victoria Leonardo (7-2, 3-2 Invicta) took a unanimous decision from Liz Tracy (5-4, 1-3 Invicta) in a three-round flyweight pairing, carrying all three scorecards by 29-28 margins; and Helen Peralta (3-1, 3-1 Invicta) cruised to a unanimous verdict over Jennifer Chieng (1-1, 0-1 Invicta), drawing 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 marks from the judges in a three-round catchweight clash at 120 pounds.


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