MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for August: Flyweights shine in rare non-title headliner

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from August. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for August.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

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The Nominees

Alejandro Perez def. Andre Soukhamthath at UFC Fight Night 114

Andre Soukhamthath (11-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) put Alejandro Perez (18-6-1 MMA, 4-1-1 UFC) down three times with his left hand and somehow still came out the loser.

A late rally by Perez was enough to overcome some solid early work by Soukhamthath, resulting in a split-decision win for Perez in a closely contested fight that remained fiercely competitive until the final seconds.

Alexa Grasso def. Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night 114

Alexa Grasso (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had to dig deep to give the fans in Mexico City the win they hoped for against Randa Markos (7-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC), but she got it done by the slimmest of margins in a spirited battle that went the distance.

Thanks largely to her work in the first and the third rounds, Grasso narrowly outpointed a game Markos to win a split-decision victory with scores of 28-29, 29-28, and 29-28.

Sergio Pettis def. Brandon Moreno at UFC Fight Night 114

A new contender in the UFC flyweight division was decided when Sergio Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) defeated Brandon Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the organization’s first 125-pound headliner not to feature champion Demetrious Johnson.

Pettis earned his fourth consecutive victory at 125 pounds when he defeated Moreno by unanimous decision in an exciting five-round affair.

Fernando Gonzalez def. Brennan Ward at Bellator 182

Fernando Gonzalez (27-14 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) continued to rebound from his lone Bellator loss this past year when he rallied to submit Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) in the third round of their catchweight bout.

After having his offense largely thwarted over the first two rounds by Ward’s mixed game, Gonzalez capitalized on a error by his opponent that allowed him to lock in a guillotine choke for the come-from-behind victory.

Kali Robbins def. Sharon Jacobson at Invicta FC 25

Kali Robbins (5-0) was in all sorts of trouble against Sharon Jacobson (4-2). And then suddenly, it was all over.

Robbins took a barrage of punches from Jacobson before she was hip-tossed to the mat. Once there Robbins immediately went into jiu-jitsu mode, climbing her legs and grabbing a hold of an arm until she was belly down and submitted Jacobson with an armbar just 42 seconds into the first round.

* * * *

The Winner: Pettis vs. Moreno

After getting dominated in the first round, Pettis shut down Moreno’s takedown game and took over on his feet.

Pettis soundly outstruck Moreno from the second frame into championship rounds to take home a unanimous decision via scores of 49-46 and 48-46 twice.

“I definitely had to face some adversity,” Pettis said afterward. “He came out there and put me in a very dangerous position. I had four rounds to prove I was a better man, and I did it.”

Moreno came in hoping to get a big win in front of his native Mexico and gave the crowd high hopes early. A kick from Pettis allowed him to take the fight to the mat, and he quickly scrambled to back control, where he set up a choke. Unable to free himself, Pettis spent the opening frame fighting Moreno’s hands and biding his time.

Pettis had the opportunity to give Moreno the same treatment in the second round when he caught a kick. Instead, he stood back and settled in with striking. Moreno took him back down but was forced to retreat after Pettis used a triangle choke to initiate a scramble.

A little too loose for his own good, Moreno took several hard right hands as he channeled martial arts movies with his movement and left his head blatantly exposed. Pettis figured out he could land kicks as Moreno circled away, and head kicks started to land.

Pettis did his best work in the third frame, picking apart Moreno on the feet and opening a cut with a head kick. Gone was the smile on Moreno’s face as he bled and met diminishing returns with takedown attempts.

“His standup surprised me a lot,” Pettis said. “He gave me a different look. Kind of made me question my look, like an open style I had to adjust to.”

By the fourth round, Pettis no longer needed to fear the takedown. Moreno tried to make up some ground on the feet and instead caught more shots to the dome as sharp combinations cut off his wide attacks.

Told the fight was even by his corner, Moreno charged into a takedown in the final frame. He had his moment, yet he was unable to land any significant offense, and Pettis escaped to his feet, where he continued to control the stand-up action.

“I noticed he had his left hand down a lot, so I kept poking him with that jab,” Pettis said afterward. “He kept circling toward my left low kick, and I’ve got a funky switch-kick that I was catching him with. I just had to adjust my style, and it all worked out.”

Asked whom he’d like to take on next after taking out a fellow up-and-comer, Pettis deferred to the UFC in lieu of a title shot.

“I’ve got to wait for the higher powers to tell me what I want,” he said. “Obviously, I’d like a title shot, but there’s a lot of things I need to polish up to get there.”

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Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC
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On the bright side, Raquel Pa'aluhi got her black belt after Invicta FC 25

Dann StuppRaquel Pa’aluhi came up short in Thursday’s Invicta FC 25 main event, but she left with a new belt.

It wasn’t the vacant Invicta FC bantamweight title – that went to her opponent, Yana Kunitskaya (10-3-1) – but Pa’aluhi (6-6) did receive her Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt from veteran trainer Robert Drysdale.

Still sporting the cuts and bruises from her title loss, Pa’aluhi had reason to smile after receiving her belt (via Twitter):

Kunitskaya earned a clean-sweep unanimous-decision win at the event, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass from Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, Calif.

For 25 minutes, Kunitskaya dominated every time she engaged in the clinch with Pa’aluhi while using her position to wear her down and land shots from the inside. When they separated and banged, Kunitskaya also won there. It was a dominant performance for Kunitskaya, who went 0-1 (with one no-contest) in a pair of title fights with Tonya Evinger, who eventually vacated the belt to sign with the UFC earlier this year.

Pa’aluhi, a 26-year-old Hawaiian, was on a 4-1 run heading into her first title fight. However, despite her ho-hum pro record, she’s faced many of the sport’s top female fighters, including current UFC champion Amanda Nunes, Olympic medalist Sara McMann, UFC contender Raquel Pennington, former Cage Warriors champ Pannie Kianzad and Invicta FC vet Ediane Gomes.

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Invicta FC 25 results: Yana Kunitskaya flawless vs. Raquel Pa'aluhi to win bantamweight title

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

Katharina Lehner was specific in her prediction before facing Alexa Conners: “I will break her and win 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:

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Invicta FC 25 live results: Raquel Pa'aluhi vs. Yana Kunitskaya

Invicta FC will crown a new champion tonight.

Raquel Pa’aluhi (6-5) takes on Yana Kunitskaya (9-3-1) for the vacant bantamweight title in the Invicta FC 25 main event, while Livia Renata Souza (10-1) takes on undefeated Janaisa Morandin (9-0) in the co-headliner.

Invicta FC 25 takes place tonight beginning at 9 p.m. ET at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The entire card will stream on UFC Fight Pass. You can follow along live here on MMAjunkie.

Below are up-to-the-minute Invicta FC 25 results:

  • Yana Kunitskaya vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi – for vacant bantamweight title
  • Janaisa Morandin vs. Livia Renata Souza
  • Alexa Conners vs. Katharina Lehner
  • Sharon Jacobson vs. Kali Robbins
  • Alyse Anderson vs. Shino VanHoose
  • Sarah Kleczka vs. Amberlynn Orr
  • Courtney King vs. Yaya Rincon
  • Tracy Cortez vs. Cheri Muraski
  • Jillian DeCoursey vs. Ashley Medina

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Invicta FC 25 weigh-in results

Filed under: News

Invicta FC will crown a new champion tomorrow night.

Raquel Pa’aluhi (6-5) takes on Yana Kunitskaya (9-3-1) for the vacant bantamweight title in the Invicta FC 25 main event, while Livia Renata Souza (10-1) takes on undefeated Janaisa Morandin (9-0) in the co-headliner.

Invicta FC 25 takes place Thursday at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The entire card will stream on UFC Fight Pass.

Below are the complete Invicta FC 25 weigh-in results:

  • Yana Kunitskaya (134.5) vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi (133.8) – for vacant bantamweight title
  • Janaisa Morandin (115.3) vs. Livia Renata Souza (115.0)
  • Alexa Conners (136) vs. Katharina Lehner (140.5)
  • Sharon Jacobson (115.1) vs. Kali Robbins (117.3)
  • Alyse Anderson (104.9) vs. Shino VanHoose (105.7)
  • Sarah Kleczka (135) vs. Amberlynn Orr (135.7)
  • Courtney King (146) vs. Yaya Rincon (144.4)
  • Tracy Cortez (125.3) vs. Cheri Muraski (125.5)
  • Jillian DeCoursey (104.9) vs. Ashley Medina (105.9)

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch 'Invicta FC 25: Road to Pa'aluhi vs. Kunitskaya' ahead of Thursday title fight

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, Videos

Invicta FC will hit a new milestone on Thursday when it puts on its 25th show.

Invicta FC 25 takes place at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The card streams live on UFC Fight Pass. In the main event, Raquel Pa’aluhi (6-5) will take on Yana Kunitskaya (9-3-1) for the now-vacant bantamweight title.

Tonya Evinger vacated the belt to move to the UFC to fight former Invicta FC featherweight champ Cris Cyborg for the UFC’s 145-pound title, necessitating the new title fight between Pa’aluhi and Kunitskaya.

Ahead of the main event, the promotion has put together a preview show in advance of the card. “Invicta FC 25: Road to Pa’aluhi vs Kunitskaya” premiered online Tuesday. The show, written and narrated by former UFC and Invicta FC fighter Julie Kedzie, who does analyst work for the promotion’s broadcasts, features Pa’aluhi and Kunitskaya behind the scenes before their fight.

Check out the video above.

And for more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

With Evinger's title vacated for UFC 214 shot, lineup set for Invicta FC 25: Pa'aluhi vs. Kunitskaya

With its bantamweight champion off to go after the UFC’s featherweight title on Saturday, Invicta FC will crown a new 135-pound champ next month. The lineup now is set for the card.

Evinger vacated Invicta’s 135-pound title to fight ex-Invicta FC 145-pound champ Cristiane Justino at UFC 214 on Saturday for the vacant women’s featherweight title. So Raquel Pa’aluhi (6-5) will take on Yana Kunitskaya (9-3-1) for the now-vacant bantamweight title in the Invicta FC 25 main event. Another title will be on the line in the co-main event when Livia Renata Souza (10-1) takes on Jodie Esquibel (6-2) for the vacant strawweight title.

Invicta FC 25 takes place Aug. 31 at Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The entire card will stream on UFC Fight Pass. And that card now is complete with a total of seven more bouts below the two title tilts.

Alexa Conners (4-1) will meet Katharina Lehner (5-0) at bantamweight; Sharon Jacobson (3-1) meets Kali Robbins (4-0) at strawweight; atomweights Alyse Anderson (3-0) and Shino VanHoose (5-5) will square off; in bantamweight action, Kelly McGill-Velasco (2-1) fights Amberlynn Orr (0-1), and Yaya Rincon (1-0) takes on Stephanie Egger (2-1); Cheri Muraski (3-0) fights Tracy Cortez (0-0) at flyweight; and debuting atomweights Ashley Medina (0-0) and Jillian DeCoursey (0-0) are booked to open the card.

Kunitskaya (9-3-1) will enter after a pair of fights with Evinger. Kunitskaya originally defeated Evinger by submission in Nov. 2016 but later had the result overturned because of a controversial call by the referee. They rematched in March, with Evinger winning by second-round submission.

Pa’aluhi (6-5) will enter having won four of her last five fights, including most recently a rear-naked choke finish in January at Invicta FC 21. She will enter trying to follow the footsteps of UFC champion Max Holloway to bring a second MMA title to Waianae, Hawaii.

Souza (10-1) will enter her bout against Esquibel (6-2) looking to reclaim the 115-pound title she lost in a split decision to Hill in May 2016. Souza rebounded with an impressive TKO finish of Ayaka Hamasaki in March at Invicta FC 22.

Esquibel, who has won three of her last four, had her most recent fight on the same night, defeating DeAnna Bennett by split decision.

The complete Invicta FC 25 lineup includes:

  • Raquel Pa’aluhi vs. Yana Kunitskaya – for vacant bantamweight title
  • Jodie Esquibel vs. Livia Renata Souza – for vacant strawweight title
  • Alexa Conners Katharina Lehner
  • Sharon Jacobson vs. Kali Robbins
  • Alyse Anderson vs. Shino VanHoose
  • Kelly McGill-Velasco vs. Amberlynn Orr
  • Stephanie Egger vs. Yaya Rincon
  • Tracy Cortez vs. Cheri Muraski
  • Jillian DeCoursey vs. Ashley Medina

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Championship doubleheader slated for Invicta FC 25 in California

Invicta FC is going to California and bringing a championship doubleheader event with it.

The promotion announced Monday that Invicta FC 25 will take place Aug. 31 at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, Calif., and atop the card, which will stream on UFC Fight Pass, is a pair fights for vacant title belts.

In the main event, Yana Kunitskaya and Raquel Pa’aluhi will face off for the bantamweight title recently vacated by longtime champion Tonya Evinger, who will compete later this month in a title fight at UFC 214. The co-headliner will feature Livia Renata Souza and Jodie Esquibel battling for the strawweight belt vacated by UFC fighter Angela Hill.

Kunitskaya (9-3-1) will enter after a pair of fights with Evinger. Kunitskaya originally defeated Evinger by submission in Nov. 2016 but later had the result overturned because of a controversial call by the referee. They rematched in March, with Evinger winning by second-round submission. Pa’aluhi (6-5) will enter having won four of her last five fights, including most recently a rear-naked choke finish in January at Invicta FC 21. She will enter trying to follow the footsteps of UFC champion Max Holloway to bring a second MMA title to Waianae, Hawaii.

Souza (10-1) will enter her bout against Esquibel (6-2) looking to reclaim the 115-pound title she lost in a split decision to Hill in May 2016. Souza rebounded with an impressive TKO finish of Ayaka Hamasaki in March at Invicta FC 22. Esquibel, who has won three of her last four, had her most recent fight on the same night, defeating DeAnna Bennett by split decision.

For more on Invicta FC 25, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie