Invicta FC 13: Cyborg vs. Van Duin Preview
Invicta FC 13: Cyborg vs. Van Duin kicks off International Fight Week this Thursday night on July 9.
Several things make this event one to watch. Not only do we have Cyborg headlining the main event as she attempts to suplex her next victim to an early finish in the Featherweight title fight, but there are two more title bouts on the card. In addition, we have loads of Cage Warrior vets making their appearance, and a wave of young fighters who have a great chance of being tomorrow’s champions.
This event is sure to be entertaining, but it’s also important in terms of crowning three very legitimate champions. Not only is the UFC not the only game in town for women fighters, it’s also the less complete one, with only two divisions for the distaff side of the cage.
Cyborg vs. Faith Van Duin
Invicta Featherweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (13-1-1) comes by her nom de guerre honestly. She is a machine inside the cage. Calm, methodical, relentless. Eleven of her thirteen wins have been by knockout. She hasn’t lost a fight in ten years, since her bout with Erica Paes (3-2) on May 17, 2005.
May 17, 2005. Let that sink in for a moment.
It’s true that she didn’t fight all of those fights clean, but even fighting clean doesn’t strip Cyborg of her skills. She’s cut through the rosters of several promotions like a hot knife through butter, with very few fighters giving her more than a token defense. Her 2009 Strikeforce Featherweight title fight victory against Gina Carano (7-1) devastated the extremely competent Carano. It’s significant Carano has not returned to the cage since that beating.
Only Vanessa Porto (18-6) and Yoko Takahashi (15-12) have taken her to decision, and that was in 2005 and 2008. The terrific Marloes Coenen (22-6), a very good grappler and good pressure fighter, lasted four and three rounds respectively in title fights against Cyborg. And never was Cyborg seriously threatened.
I’ll say out of the gate that Faith Van Duin absolutely deserves her shot at Cyborg and the title. She decisively defeated Amanda Bell (3-3) and has a 5-1 pro record, but it does say something about the featherweight division across all WMMA that a relatively unknown Kiwi wins one in Invicta and gets a shot at the title. To be blunt, as decent a fighter as Van Duin is, Cyborg and the fans deserve more. The UFC is taking some care with building its strawweight division, and Invicta and Bellator need to do the same with the featherweights. If they build it, the fans will watch.
Van Duin may have beat Bell decisively, but she didn’t smash her. She was visibly flustered by Bell’s pressure, and Bell is a kitten compared to Cyborg. There is no way Van Duin can hold steady against her. Van Duin’s striking defense is also subpar in my opinion.
I also think it’s interesting that there has been almost complete radio silence from Van Duin and her camp in the build up to the fight. Requests for pre-fight interviews have also gone unanswered.
Cyborg wins this one easily in the middle of the first round, by KO.
Tonya Evinger vs. Irene Aldana
I honestly think this bantamweight title fight is the least competitive on the card, and I’ve been surprised at the buzz it’s been getting in the MMAverse. I think there’s every possibility Irene Aldana (5-1) will join the UFC bantamweight stable, but it won’t be with the Invicta bantamweight belt tossed over her shoulder like she told Dana White.
Aldana fights out of the Lobo Gym in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she trains with strawweight Alexa Grasso (7-0). There is some real talent coming out of there, and that includes Aldana, but I think she’s a definite cut below her friend Grasso. It’s true she’s on a two-fight winning streak in Invicta with some slick submission finishes, but the wins were against Peggy Morgan and newcomer Colleen Schneider. Her pre-Invicta record is 3-1, with all three wins first-round finishes, but again against less than impressive opponents.
Tonya Evinger (14-6) has faced a Who’s Who in the cage: Vanessa Porto, Gina Carano, Julie Kedzie (16-13), Sarah Schneider (7-6), Alexis Davis (17-6), and Sara McMann (8-2). It’s also true she has lost to some of them, but her experience both in the cage and against the best fighters means something. Yes, a loss is a loss and a win is a win, but there’s an argument to make about whether a game loss to the best is more important in building a fighter than a win against a game noob.
Evinger’s career has had its definite low points, and that and her elimination round loss to Raquel Pennington (5-5) at TUF 18 is probably what has kept her out of the UFC. But she’s on a three-fight winning streak in Invicta, chalking up victories over Sarah D’Alelio (8-6), Ediane Gomes (10-4), and Cindy Dandois (5-2), and seems to have reignited the fire in her belly.
Aldana definitely outshines Evinger on the mat, even with Evinger’s many submission wins, and if she can take the fight down and keep it down she has a good chance of winning. I think, however, the strap is Tonya Evinger’s to lose. She is a more experienced and more complete fighter than Aldana.
Evinger by TKO round two.
Herica Tiburico vs. Ayaka Hamasaki
Herica Tiburcio’s (9-2) defense of her atomweight title is by far the most competitive main card bout, and should win Fight of the Night. This could be a real barnburner.
Ayaka Hamasaki (11-1) is an excellent fighter, more experienced than Tiburcio, but as her fight against Claudia Gadelha (12-1) showed, she sometimes cannot overcome a real pressure fighter like Gadelha. Or Tiburcio.
There is a real chance, however, for Hamasaki to take this one. Her size fits into the atomweight division better, and her string of wins is impressive: Mei Yamaguchi (15-8), Naho Sugiyama (10-4), Seo Hee Ham (15-6), and Mizuki Inoue (8-4). Pair that with her grappling and judo skillsets, and Tiburcio has a real struggle on her hands.
I honestly think this fight could go either way, but I’ll give a slight edge to Tiburcio’s pressure fighting and the well-known excellent training of the Brazilian camps.
Tiburcio by decision.
Costigan is a Cage Warriors vet whose large following has spooked Amber Brown enough she’s made comments about it during interviews. Ireland’s “Alpha Female” inked a multi-fight deal with Invicta a few months ago, and since then hasn’t been shy about what she wants: Brown’s defeat and then a shot at the belt.
Costigan is a finisher, so she has a good chance of getting what she wants, although Brown will definitely make her work for it. This fight will be a battle and a lot of fun for fans, especially if Costigan continues her flamboyant walk-out routine. Almost too tough to call, but Costigan by submission.
There are so many good young fighters on this card that it’s hard to choose just one to showcase, so I’ll pick two: Jessica-Rose Clark (5-1) and Jamie Moyle (2-0). I think there’s a good chance for both fighters to make the jump to the UFC within the next year.
Aussie Bantamweight “Jessy Jess” is a kickboxer with great takedown offense and ground game, who has already racked up an impressive 5-1 pro record. It’s been fun seeing the new Aussie fighters emerging from the trail started by Bec Rawlings (6-4) and Alex Chambers (5-2), and Clark is definitely one to watch. I expect her to best Cage Warriors vet Pannie Kianzad (7-0).
Strawweight Jamie Moyle’s 2-0 record looks slight, but the wins were both decisive Invicta victories and she has tons of upsides. She deserves as much press as Alexa Grasso, in my opinion, and I think she’ll get it after this fight. She’s also a very outspoken and public Harry Potter fan, which means nothing in the cage, but it makes her personable and likeable outside of it. Moyle should eke out a win against the excellent Amy Montenegro (6-1).
Anchoring the undercard is UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey’s Fourth Horsewoman Marina Shafir’s (1-1) matchup with Amber Leibrock (0-0). I think this goes to a decision with the judge’s giving it to Leibrock.
Invicta FC 13 airs on Fight Pass Thursday, July 9, starting at 11 pm EDT.
You can follow Melanie Gale on Twitter.