Yana Kunitskaya is the Invicta FC bantamweight champion, and this time there is no question about it.
Kunitskaya (10-3-1), competing in her third consecutive title fight, firmly held Raquel Pa’aluhi (6-6) in check, en route to a clean sweep unanimous-decision win to claim the vacant 135-pound championship in the Invicta FC 25 headliner.
The event took place at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif., and streamed on UFC Fight Pass.
The title came up for grabs after previous champion Tonya Evinger left to challenge Cris Cyborg for the then-vacant UFC featherweight title at UFC 214, a bout won by Cyborg via TKO.
Kunitskaya had challenged Evinger twice before for the title, initially scoring a victory in their first bout, which was later overturned after Evinger appealed the result because of in-fight instructions from the referee leading to an armbar submission. There was no controversy in the rematch, however, as Evinger choked out Kunitskaya at Invicta FC 22 in March.
After all that, Kunitskaya lays claim to the gold after a dominant performance.
For 25 minutes, Kunitskaya dominated every time she engaged in the clinch with Pa’aluhi, using her position to wear her down and land shots from the inside. When they separated and banged, Kunitskaya won there, as well.
Pa’aluhi’s best chance to turn things around was to get the fight to the mat, though she couldn’t quite succeed. There was just one moment, near the end of the fourth round, that Pa’aluhi threw Kunitskaya to the ground and trapped her in a head-and-arm. She went for broke and squeezed tight, though the bell ended the action.
But overall, there simply was no question who the better fighter was on this night. Kunitskaya is the champion – finally.
Lehner calls her shot, finishes Conners by TKO
Lehner was right on point.
Lehner (6-0) used high volume and a variety of punching combinations to wear down Conners (3-2) before landing a straight left hand to the temple that dropped her opponent, resulting in a TKO win 4:21 into the first round.
Aside from missing the 135-pound bantamweight limit, it was a tremendous Invicta FC debut to keep Lehner undefeated.
Robbins staves off early onslaught, earns quick submission win
Kali Robbins was in all sorts of trouble. And then suddenly it was over.
Robbins took a barrage of punches from Sharon Jacobson before she was hip-tossed to the mat. Once there Robbins (5-0) immediately went into jiu-jitsu mode, climbing her legs and grabbing a hold of an arm until she was belly down and submitted Jacobson (4-2) with an armbar just 42 seconds into the first round.
It was a remarkable turn of events that happened so fast.
“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” said Robbins, competing in her first fight in nearly 18 months. “Everything has been building up. I knew she was going to come at me. I was sincerely doubting myself before I came out here. This couldn’t have been better.”
The only damper to Robbins’ win was that she came in over the 115-pound strawweight limit, though she expressed sincere remorse afterward.
“I’ll come back better than this,” she said, “and I won’t ever do that to another opponent again.”
Complete Invicta FC 25 results:
- Yana Kunitskaya def. Raquel Pa’aluhi via unanimous decision (50-45) – to win vacant bantamweight title
- Livia Renata Souza def. Janaisa Morandin via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Katharina Lehner def. Alexa Conners via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:21
- Kali Robbins def. Sharon Jacobson via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 0:42
- Shino VanHoose def. Alyse Anderson by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- Sarah Kleczka def. Amberlynn Orr via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Yaya Rincon vs. Courtney King via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:41
- Cheri Muraski def. Tracy Cortez via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:42
- Jillian DeCoursey def. Ashley Medina via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)