In a captivating grappling chess match, Ayaka Hamasaki was just a little bit craftier than Amber Brown.
Hamasaki (13-1, 3-1 Invicta) retained her atomweight title in the Invicta Fighting Championships 16 headliner at Trinidad Pavilion at Tropicana Las Vegas on Friday night, submitting Brown (6-2, 3-1 Invicta) with an armbar at the 2:52 mark of round three. Brown did not go quietly however, as she fought off multiple submission attempts from her Japanese opponent before finally succumbing.
After Brown landed a takedown early in round three, Hamasaki used a kimura to sweep to top position. The FIT-NHB representative refused to tap to the maneuver, however, so Hamasaki transitioned to an armbar and leaned back to fully extend her adversary’s limb. Brown nearly escaped by rolling away, but Hamasaki maintained her grip and increased the torque. With her face showing obvious anguish, Brown reluctantly asked out of the fight.
“A few times I thought I got her, but she got away, so she had very good defensive skill,” Hamasaki said through a translator. “But the good thing is, I just [remained] persistent and never gave up.”
Brown was more than an escape artist in the bout, as she had her moments of submission offense, as well, trapping Hamasaki in triangle chokes in both the first and second frames. The hold was particularly tight at the end of the second stanza, and Hamasaki spent an extra few seconds on the canvas after she was saved by the horn. That would turn out to be Brown’s last best chance at victory, as Hamasaki rallied in the third to earn her fourth straight triumph.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Maia captured the Invicta FC interim flyweight crown with a hard-fought five-round verdict (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) over Vanessa Porto in the evening’s co-main event. With the win, Maia avenged a second-round submission loss to Porto that occurred at Kumite MMA Combate in October 2011.
Porto (18-7, 3-3 Invicta) was the one who set the tone early on, dropping Maia (13-4-1, 2-2 Invicta) with a right hand in the first round and rocking her with a left hook in second frame before later moving to full mount. Maia kept her composure, however, and took over down the stretch.
Starting in round three, Maia began landing more consistently on the feet, bloodying her opponent’s nose with a straight right hand. While Porto continued to land takedowns, Maia was able to threaten with a variety of submissions over the course of the second half of the bout. Porto was notably granted a reprieve from a tight armbar attempt in the fourth when referee Mark Smith ordered a break in the action so a doctor could examine her gushing nose. Maia was undeterred by the untimely standup, and she closed out the final stanza by hunting for an arm-in guillotine, clinching her triumph.
“The Ultimate Fighter 20” veteran Angela Hill made the most of a short-notice opportunity, as she stopped Stephanie Eggink via technical knockout 2:36 into the second round of their featured strawweight showdown. Hill replaced the injured Alexa Grasso on a little more than one week’s notice.
Hill (4-2, 2-0 Invicta), who spent much of the bout attempting to counter Eggink kicks with right hands, sent the former XFC titlist tumbling to the canvas near the fence with a big overhand right in the second stanza. The blow appeared to break Eggink’s nose, but referee Kim Winslow did not stop the fight, so Hill moved forward and polished off the victory with four standing-to ground punches on her defenseless foe.
Elsewhere, Irene Aldana bounced back from a bantamweight title loss to Tonya Evinger in her last outing with a vengeance. The Mexican fighter blasted through four-time UFC veteran Jessamyn Duke, winning via technical knockout at the 3:08 mark of round one. It was Duke’s fourth consecutive loss, with the previous three coming within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Aldana (6-2, 3-1 Invicta) landed punching combinations consistently during the abbreviated contest, but she turned the tide for good when she rocked Duke (3-4, 2-1 Invicta) with a counter right hand. The Californian backed up to the fence and covered up, and Aldana unloaded with a hard punches to the head and body, forcing referee Mark Smith to call a halt to the contest.
An active offensive attack carried Roxanne Modafferi to a split-decision triumph (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over DeAnna Bennett in a featured bantamweight tilt. “The Happy Warrior” has now won four of her last five bouts since parting ways with the UFC following “The Ultimate Fighter 18” finale.
Modafferi (19-12, 4-1 Invicta) kept Bennett (8-2, 4-2 Invicta) on her heels behind a steady diet of straight punches and kicks to the legs. Modafferi’s work took a visible toll on her opponent in round three, as she bloodied Bennett’s nose with her volume punching. Still, “The Argentine Assassin” remained content to circle on the outside and spent much of the fight with her back near the cage as Modafferi forced the action, likely costing her the fight on the scorecards
Jinh Yu Frey earned the signature victory of her young career, taking a unanimous verdict over ex-titlist Herica Tiburcio in an atomweight scrap. Two cageside judges scored it 30-27, while a third had it 29-28, all in favor of the Arlington, Texas, native.
The taller Frey (5-1, 3-1 Invicta) managed the range for the most part, connecting with hard, clean punching combinations upstairs throughout the contest while occasionally following up with kicks to the body. Tiburcio (9-3, 1-2 Invicta) nonetheless continued to march forward, countering effectively in spots whit reddening her foe’s lead leg with low kicks. Frey’s signature moment occurred at the end of round two, when she put Tiburcio on her seat with a straight left hand just before the horn sounded.
Sarah D’Alelio made a successful transition from bantamweight to flyweight, as she rallied to submit Andrea Lee late in the third round of their clash. The end came 4:21 into the stanza, as D’Alelio took her opponent’s back, flattened her out and secured a rear-naked choke.
Lee, who dominated the standup exchanges, appeared to have D’Alelio (9-6, 4-3 Invicta) reeling early in the third frame, but “The Monster” was able to sweep her foe and move to top position following a nicely executed head-and-arm throw by Lee (4-2, 2-2 Invicta). D’Alelio first looked for a kimura before transitioning to Lee’s back and locking in the fight-ending maneuver.
In earlier action, Aspen Ladd (3-0, 3-0 Invicta) stopped Kelly McGill (2-1, 1-1 Invicta) with a barrage of ground-and-pound 1:47 into round three in a bantamweight bout, while Ashley Greenway (1-0, 1-0 Invicta) earned a unanimous decision triumph over Sarah Click (1-0, 1-0 Invicta) in a strawweight clash.