After 2015 saw Invicta FC buoyed by being added to the UFC Fight Pass lineup, the all-female promotion now kicks off their 2016 schedule with Invicta FC 15. The card, taking place in Costa Mesa, California, will feature a pair of title fights, and perhaps the top women’s pound-for-pound fighter now that Ronda Rousey has been knocked from her perch. Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino defends her featherweight title against Ukraine’s Daria Ibragimova, while strawweight title holder Livia Souza makes her first defense against fellow unbeaten fighter DeAnna Bennett. The event also features the likes of Angela Hill, Raquel Pa’aluhi, and Mizuki Inoue amongst its eight fights. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting odds for Invicta FC 15 today at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Check them out below: ——————– MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 9pm ET) Featherweight Title: Daria Ibragimova +1075 Cristiane Justino (c) -2225 Strawweight Title: Livia Renata Souza (c) +125 DeAnna Bennett -165 Colleen Schneider +160 Raquel Pa’aluhi -210 Shino VanHoose +435 Amber Brown -705 Alida Gray +285 Angela Hill -405 Lacey Schuckman +325 Mizuki Inoue -475 Amanda Bell +160 Ediane Gomes -210 Amber Leibrock +100 Megan Anderson -140 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Prior to stepping in to be sacrificed to ‘Cyborg’, Daria Ibragimova’s most seasoned opponent was a woman who was 1-4 at the time of their fight. She also lost to the only recognizable name on her resume, Cindy Dandois. Dandois was actually rumoured to face ‘Cyborg’ on this card, but that bout never materialized. Unfortunate for Ibragimova, but such is the state of women’s MMA at 145lbs. Hopefully she at least gets a half decent payday for what will amount to somewhere in the neighborhood of a minute of work. The strawweight title bout should be far more competitive, as a pair of 8-0 fighters square off in what is still the promotion’s strongest division (despite being one of the weight classes also in the UFC). To me, DeAnna Bennett hasn’t been as impressive at 115 as she was at 125, as the cut seems to sap some of her power and energy. I think as this fight plays out, Bennett will struggle to control grappling exchanges that she may have the upper hand in early, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the champion manages to score another late submission. Even if that isn’t the case, I think Souza will be competitive enough early, while securing the latter rounds for a decision. Pa’aluhi and Schneider are both fighters who have suffered from the lack of depth in women’s MMA. Each has been forced to face some top competition early in their careers, which has resulted in their records not necessarily reflecting their skills. Some of their losses include Amanda Nunes, Sara McMann, Liz Carmouche, Irene Aldana, and DeAnna Bennett. Neither is a world beater, but both are fully capable fighters, I just think Pa’aluhi’s style is better suited to this particular matchup, as she should be able to keep the fight standing and wear Schneider down en route to a decision. Amber Brown was originally supposed to face Lisa Ellis, a fight in which I still would have picked her easily, but where her backers would have gotten a better number. Against VanHoose, Brown should be able to impose her grappling and score another impressive performance. At anything less than -500, Brown would be worth parlaying, but there’s no sense in adding her much above that. Hill/Gray comes down to athleticism. Angela Hill is still extremely raw, but she’s a quality striker, and she’s facing a fighter who is much more limited on the feet (despite it being her best skill). Hill should be able to have her way on the feet and keep the bout there for as long as she needs to. It should be a good way for the TUF veteran to get back on track after a rough run in the UFC. Much like Amber Brown, I’d be comfortable parlaying Mizuki Inoue at a pretty high number here. She has only lost to some of the best fighters in the world, and used her grappling to great effect against everyone else. Schuckman has struggled with strong grapplers in the past, including Ayaka Hamasaki, who Inoue just drew in a grappling match in 2015. I expect this to play out on the ground, and Inoue to have a significant edge throughout. If Ediane Gomes can get Amanda Bell to the ground early, she should make short work of this fight, but if she’s not able to, she could be in trouble. Bell is more dangerous on the feet, and Gomes will be at risk for as long as this fight stays there. If Gomes can survive the early onslaught she could grind out a decision as well, since Bell is unproven in fights that go into deeper waters. I’d stay away from this one for betting purposes, because neither fighter is particularly reliable. Megan Anderson had quite a bit of hype heading into her Invicta debut, and fell flat on her face, getting dominated and submitted by Cindy Dandois. That makes it difficult to have much faith in her against the still unproven Amber Leibrock, who has just one professional fight. Leibrock dispatched Marina Shafir in under a minute in that pro debut, but we’ve learned that isn’t a particularly impressive feat. This is the type of bout I’d side with either fighter as a decent underdog, but will probably just end up passing all together.
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