Posted April 23, 2015 by Melanie Gale in News

At Invicta 12, Katja Kankaanpää defends her strawweight title against Livia Renata Souza

kankaanpaaIt’s unusual for a champion to defend her title against a newcomer, but that’s what will happen when Finnish fighter Katja Kankaanpää faces Brazilian Livia Renata Souza (7-0) at Invicta 12.

The UFC’s poaching of Invicta’s Strawweight division left the title open after champion Carla Esparza (10-3) left Invicta for TUF 20, giving Kankaanpää her opening to best Stephanie Eggink (4-2) in a hard-fought and surprise win for the belt. She’s held that belt since September 2014, but that may change this Friday in her bout against Souza.

Kankaanpää is a talented fighter whose bread and butter is fighting in the clinch and grinding her opponent against the cage to exhaustion before taking them to the ground for the submission. She is experienced and methodical, and her record reflects that. Along with Eggink, she has beaten Aisling Daly (15-5) and Juliana Lima (7-2), and has never been finished. Her only professional loss is to Joanne Calderwood (9-1) in the Fight of the Night at Invicta 8.

Livia Renata Souza is a submission machine, winning six of her seven fights via first-round submissions, and has wins over Camila Lima (7-6) and Aline Sattelmayer (9-7). She is aggressive and fast, a dangerous and savvy grappler with black belts in BJJ and Judo, and a terrific prospect for Invicta. But she’s very green against elites and international fighters.

On paper, Souza wins.

In the cage, Kankaanpää does.

Expect Souza to come out guns blazing trying for a fast takedown and submission. Kankaanpää needs to quickly get her in a clinch and neutralize her against the cage, frustrating Souza’s offense. This is where Souza’s inexperience will be her downfall, and she’ll have no good answer for Kankaanpää’s offense. All Kankkaanpää needs to do is wait. And she will.

Prediction: Katja Kankaanpää by Submission, Round 2.

Other fights to watch: Flyweights Vanessa Porto (17-6) and Roxanne Modafferi (17-11), and Strawweights Delaney Owen (3-1) and Sharon Jacobson (2-1).

The full card is:

Strawweight Title Fight: Katja Kankaanpää (10-1-1) vs. Livia Renata Souza (7-0)
Flyweight: Vanessa Porto (17-6) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (17-11)
Featherweight: Faith Van Duin (4-1) vs. Amanda Bell (3-2)
Bantamweight: Ediane Gomes (10-3) vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi (4-4)
Featherweight: Peggy Morgan (3-2) vs. Latoya Walker (4-0)
Strawweight: Lacey Schuckman (10-8) vs. Jenny Liou (3-1)
Strawweight: Delaney Owen (3-1) vs. Sharon Jacobson (2-1)
Flyweight: Shannon Sinn (1-2) vs. Maureen Riordon (0-1)
Flyweight: Gina Begley (0-0) vs. Sijara Eubanks (0-0)

Watch Invicta 12 on Friday, April 24th on Fight Pass, starting at 8:00 pm EDT/5:00 pm PDT.

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Melanie Gale