Tonya Evinger Chokes Yana Kunitskaya at Invicta 22; Livia Renata Souza Torches Ayaka Hamasaki

By Brian Knapp Mar 25, 2017

There was no controversy this time.

Tonya Evinger retained the undisputed Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title, as she submitted Yana Kunitskaya with a second-round rear-naked choke in the Invicta 22 headliner on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Kunitskaya (9-3) -- who saw her Nov. 18 victory over Evinger changed to a no-contest due to referee error -- bowed out of their rematch 4:32 into Round 2.

The challenger dragged Evinger (19-5) through plenty of difficulty. The action spilled onto the canvas after a standing guillotine from Kunitskaya in the first round. She then ran Evinger through a maze of attempted triangle chokes, armbars, heel hooks and kneebars. None of them were successful. In the second round, Evinger dodged another bid for a guillotine, assumed top position and ultimately maneuvered to the back. From there, she cinched the choke and prompted the tapout.

In the co-main event, former Invicta strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza blew away Ayaka Hamasaki with punches in the first round. Hamasaki (14-2) succumbed to blow 1:41 into Round 1, her five-fight winning streak having run its course.

Souza (10-1) made the reigning atomweight titleholder regret her decision to climb to 115 pounds. In her first appearance since surrendering her crown to Angela Hill, the 26-year-old Brazilian floored Hamasaki with a surgical straight right hand to the face and pounced with a volley of unanswered hammerfists that netted the stoppage.

Meanwhile, Jackson-Wink MMA export Jodie Esquibel won for the third time in four appearances, as she eked out a split decision over DeAnna Bennett in a catchweight showcase at 117 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Esquibel.

Bennett (8-3) saw one slip through her fingers. The Pit Elevated rep pivoted to an armbar after being taken down in Round 1 but could not force the tapout despite her dogged pursuit of the maneuver. Esquibel (6-2) successfully navigated height and reach disadvantages in the second and third rounds, where she pieced together crisp punching combinations to the body and head while mixing in occasional leg kicks. Her ability to keep it standing proved fruitful when the scorecards were read.

The 32-year-old Bennett has lost three fights in a row.

In other action, Ashley Cummins (5-3) captured a unanimous decision from Amber Brown (6-4) in their 15-minute battle at 105 pounds; Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (2-0) was awarded a unanimous verdict over Mallory Martin (1-1) in their three-round strawweight affair; Miranda Maverick (2-0) submitted Kal Holliday (1-1) with an armbar 3:01 into the first round of their catchweight clash at 120 pounds; and Felicia Spencer (2-0) took a unanimous decision from Madison McElhaney (1-1) in a three-round featherweight encounter.
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