Invicta FC 23: Porto vs. Niedzwiedz Full Card Preview

Invicta FC 23 Andrea Lee
Credit: Scott Hirano/Invicta FC

Invicta FC 23 brings fans an eight-fight card that is sure to entertain. Here’s what to look forward to Saturday night.

Invicta FC will be holding its 23rd event on May 20. The card will be headlined by legendary women MMA pioneer Vanessa Porto and rising undefeated prospect Agnieszka Niedzwiedz. The two will look to catapult into the flyweight title picture with a victory.

Porto enters the fight with a record of 18-7, with her last appearance being a losing effort to Jennifer Maia for the Invicta FC interim flyweight title. Niedzwiedz will enter the fight with her perfect record of 9-0. She made her return to MMA after a layoff of almost two years at Invicta FC 18. Since then, she has won two fights, against Christine Stanley and Samara Santos respectively.

The co-main event will see flyweight top contender Sarah D’Alelio taking on MMA legend Roxanne Modafferi. Sarah enters the fight riding a four-fight win streak, which includes wins over hot prospect Andrea “KGB” Lee and Jenny Liou. Modafferi recently bounced back from a loss by defeating Priscila de Souza outside of the Invicta cage. “The Happy Warrior” last fought for Invicta FC at Invicta FC 19 when she failed to capture the promotion’s flyweight title from Jennifer Maia. As D’Alelio tries to solidify her claim to being the number contender to the flyweight throne, Roxanne will try to get back into the title picture. This will without a doubt be a game-changing event for the flyweight division.

However, this isn’t the only reason why Invicta FC 23 has become one of the most looked-forward-to events by MMA fans. The UFC recently announced that they will be creating a flyweight division and the winner of the 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter will be crowned as the inaugural champion. Invicta FC is one of the two promotions to have a well-defined flyweight division, the second one being Bellator. This will clearly help build the flyweight division and determine who lands where in the rankings, which clearly will be a factor in determining who will compete in the tournament. With TUF 26 set to tape in July, this event will be a big influence to the UFC’s newest division.

Apart from that, the card will also witness the return of featherweight standout Ediane Gomes, the quick turn-around of flyweight superstar Andrea Lee, a clash of UFC vets Kelly Faszholz and Elizabeth Phillips and a battle between of two of Invicta’s most decorated kickboxers Christine Ferea and Tiffany Van Soest and more. The event is one of the most stacked cards Invicta FC has ever assembled and the air of the creation of UFC women’s flyweight division just adds more excitement to the environment. Here is a complete breakdown of the card.

8. Shaianna Rincon vs. Brooksie Bayard

The card will be kicked off by bantamweights Shaianna Rincon and Brooksie Bayard. Shaianna Rincon will be making her professional MMA debut after going 4-0 as an amateur. Brooksie Bayard, on the other hand, has an MMA record of 1-1, with her last fight being a submission win over Sha Whittington and an amateur record of 2-0. The two will enter the fight with a similar amount of experience.

Brooksie Bayard fights out from Pasadena, California. The Cageworx MMA product will be returning to MMA after over 18 months, last appearing in May 2015 where she secured a submission win. Bayard in her run as an amateur defeated UFC welterweight Sage Northcutt’s sister, Colby Northcutt.

Shaianna Rincon fights out of Vacaville, California. She is currently riding a four-fight amateur streak, in which she has finished two. Rincon too returns to MMA after a break of over 18 months with her last fight coming back in August 2015. Rincon, in her run as an amateur, defeated Bellator contender Brooke Mayo twice.

The fight will be interesting. Not much is known about the fighters but the names the two have defeated in their run as amateur says a lot about them. Rincon enters the fight aiming to make a statement in her debut, while Bayard enters the fight to improve her even record, which at this point is necessary for her. However, Rincon will likely be a favorite. Rincon has heavy momentum behind her, riding a four-fight win streak and has not suffered defeat. On the top of that, she will also have the height and size advantage in the fight.

7. Christine Ferea vs. Tiffany Van Soest

Decorated kickboxing world champion Tiffany Van Soest will go one on one against decorated Muay Thai fighter Christine Ferea in a strawweight encounter. Van Soest will enter the fight with a not so eye-catching record of 0-2 when she faces Ferea. However, her kickboxing record of 17-2-1 covers all of that up. Christine Ferea, on the other hand, made her successful promotional and MMA debut back in January at Invicta FC 21. She holds an undefeated record of 16-0 in Muay Thai.

Tiffany Van Soest enters the fight on a very low note following her last loss back at Invicta FC 19. Despite this, Van Soest still stands as the most decorated kickboxer in Invicta FC’s strawweight division. However, if she wants to stay relevant in MMA, she has to win this fight and erase the “zero” from her win column.

Christine Ferea, on the other hand, had an amazing MMA debut. She made her debut against Rachael Ostovich and won the fight via TKO in the third round. A destructive striker, Ferea is known for her knockout power. In Muay Thai she finished 13 of her 16 wins. Ferea will be moving down from the flyweight division to 115-pounds. She shared her thoughts on her opponent with Cageside Press.

 “I respect my opponent as a champion and have great respect for her accomplishments. I am very honored to be able to compete with someone of her caliber. However, at the end of the day, I’m a fighter and anyone they put in front of me will always have the same outcome. And that’s finishing her.”

This is a war between two of the most decorated strikers in all of the strawweight division. Hence, it’s safe to assume that the majority of the fight is bound to remain on feet. Which should act as a positive for Van Soest as she had her weak ground game exposed in her last fight.

Surprisingly, Van Soest is going to be a favorite in the fight. Ferea is a fellow striker and will keep the fight where “Time Bomb” wants it. Despite this, expect Ferea to get the win. Ferea is a nasty striker and is comparable to Van Soest on the feet in an MMA setting. On top of that, she has a better ground game when compared to Van Soest, which she showcased when she faced Ostovich.

6. Ediane Gomes vs. Pam Sorenson

The featherweight encounter between Gomes and Sorenson will be an important fight for the division. Ediane Gomes is one of the most popular and respected featherweight fighters with a record of 10-4. Sorenso, on the other hand, enters the fight following a recent upset win over Australian Jessica Rose-Clark. Sorenson will compete at featherweight for the first time in her professional career.

Gomes returns to fighting after over two years, with her last fight occurring at Invicta FC 12 in April 2015. “India” is one of the most underrated women’s MMA fighters. She holds a record of 10-4, in which she has faced the likes former Strikeforce and UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger and many more. She is a submission artist with 7 of her 10 wins coming via tapout. Gomes has expressed interest in fighting for the UFC featherweight title and receiving a shot against Cris Cyborg. This fight will prove whether Gomes is ready for the bigger stage or not.

Pam Sorenson enters the fight with huge momentum behind her. She is riding a three-fight win streak and had an amazing 2016. Sorenson made her Invicta FC debut in late 2016 against Jessica Rose-Clark as an underdog. She missed weight, which usually leads to reduced confidence in a fighter. However, Sorenson overcame the odds and walked out with the win by a split decision. This is Sorenson’s chance to fix the mistakes she made in her Invicta debut by scoring another underdog victory at a more comfortable weight class. She gave her thoughts on her Gomes in a recent interview with Cageside Press and even let us know that she wasn’t planning on to stick to the featherweight division.

“Gomes has been around for quite a while. Her only losses have been to the current and a former UFC champ, the current Invicta champ, and Pa’aluhi, who will likely be fighting for the Invicta title soon. I know she’s very tough, durable and will fight bell to bell, but for as long as she’s been around I haven’t seen much evolution in her game. Being that this fight is in the featherweight division, I do not see winning this fight putting me in contention for the title. I plan on dropping back down to 135 after this fight and I know I need at least one more good win in that weight class (and obviously make weight) to be considered for a title shot.”

This is one of the most interesting fights on the card. Where Sorenson enters the fight to fix the wrong which she made in her debut, Gomes enters the fight to stay relevant in the MMA world. In simpler terms, the two need to win the match. Situations like these usually end up in amazing fights.

Gomes will enter the fight as a favorite. She may be returning after over two years and is on a two-fight losing streak, but considering the experience she has, she can clearly win the match. Gomes has a solid ground game and a fairly good striking. Sorenson, on the other hand, has not faced someone as skilled or experienced as Gomes.

However, my pick for the fight will be Sorenson. She has looked good so far in her professional career. She has the skills to hold Gomes and rack up a decision win. On the top of that Gomes returns to fighting after over 24 months, it is bound to affect her performance.

5. Andrea Lee vs. Liz Tracy

Andrea Lee taking on Liz Tracy will be the first of three flyweight bouts of the event. Both Lee and Tracy enter the fight riding two-fight win streaks. Lee has managed two stoppage victories, while Tracy comes back after having an explosive match against flyweight standout Christine Stanley.

Liz Tracy is not very well known in the MMA circuit. She stands with a record of 3-1, with wins over Christine Stanley, Cindy Hales, and Maria Rios. She also holds an amateur record of 2-1. As previously mentioned, not much is known about her, but the fact that she holds a win over someone like Stanley says a lot about her. Tracy has a strong ground game with a nasty punching power from top position. Not much can be said about her striking but on the ground, she is one dangerous person to mess with.

Andrea Lee enters the fight with a record of 6-2. She is a decorated Muay Thai kickboxer and is one of the most popular flyweight fighters. In her young career, less than three years, she has managed to rack off wins over the likes of Shannon Sinn, Jenny Liou, and Rachael Ostovich. Lee despite having a decorated kickboxing history has well-developed submission skills which she has displayed in her matches against Ariel Beck and Ostovich. Lee apart from that also has explosive knockout power as shown in her last two matches where she utterly destroyed her opponents. She gave her thoughts on her opponent to us.

“I’ve got to watch a couple of her fights. I am taller, and I definitely have a reach advantage on her. I know she’s going to come in, she’s probably going to try to take me down. I’m comfortable. If it does go to the ground, I’m comfortable there too. So I’m not really worried about where it’s at. I’m hoping to get the finish, I want to get the knockout, keep it standing, but if she takes it to the ground, it’s not going to discourage me in any way whatsoever cause I’m very comfortable there.”

Lee will enter the fight as a healthy favorite. She has a rich history in combat sports and is way more experienced than her opponent. On the top of that, she is confident to take the fight to the ground and has grown a lot as a fighter in the past year. She will also have the reach and size advantage, which will clearly hamper the chances of Tracy to take the fight on ground. Lee is the smart pick in this one.

4. Elizabeth Phillips vs. Kelly Faszholz

Elizabeth Phillips vs. Kelly Faszholz is without a doubt the most underrated fight on the card. Elizabeth Phillips will enter the fight after coming off a February win over Sarah Howell. Whereas Faszholz will enter the fight on a two-fight losing streak.

Phillips will be the more experienced fighter in the encounter. She holds a record of 6-5 including wins over former Ultimate Fighter contender Jessamyn Duke, Katie Howard, and more. A well-rounded fighter, Phillips will be returning to Invicta FC after a failed attempt to make a statement in her featherweight debut at Invicta FC 21.

Faszholz enters the cage without any momentum. She went 0-2 in the UFC before being released. Despite getting a Fight of the Night honor for her fight against Lauren Murphy, she wasn’t given another shot in the promotion. Faszholz holds a record of 3-2, in which she has faced the likes of former Invicta FC champion Lauren Murphy and undefeated top contender Ketlen Vieira.

The fight will be very interesting. Phillips will enter the bout as a favorite as she is considerably more experienced and popular. She also has displayed great performances in the past which will play a heavy factor, and the fact that Faszholz is on a losing streak simply helps in getting the odds on her side.

However, my pick is Faszholz. She has a very developed ground game and was winning against Murphy until she was caught with a series of nasty ground and pound which lead to the stoppage. In her fight against Vieira, she opened up late which lead to her losing the fight. Kelly clearly has the skills to walk out with the win.

3. Herica Tiburcio vs. Tessa Simpson

Former atomweight world champion Herica Tiburcio will face rising contender Tessa Simpson on the card. Both contenders coincidently will enter with a common foe in their last fight, Simona Soukupova.

Tiburcio enters the fight after bouncing back from a losing streak with a win over Soukupova. The Brazilian holds a decorated MMA record of 10-4 in which she has faced current top UFC strawweight and former atomweight champion Michelle Waterson, current atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki, top contender Jinh Yu Frey, top-ranked UFC strawweight Claudia Gadelha and many more.

Simpson will enter the fight with a record of 5-1. She in her career so far has faced Paulina Granados, Satomi Takano, Anita Rodriguez and more. She is currently regarded as a top atomweight and she will try to enter the elite list when she faces Tiburcio.

Tiburcio will clearly be the favorite when she enters the fight. She is comparatively more experienced and has also improved in every realm. Therefore, she is the smart pick in this fight.

2. Sarah D’Alelio vs. Roxanne Modafferi

This is the Fight of the Night. Two of the most talented flyweights will lock horns to make a case for a title shot. The two will enter the fight on high notes given the performance the two have had in their last fights. Modafferi challenged Jennifer Maia for the flyweight title and went 2-1 in 201. At the same time, D’Alelio racked up three straight wins to get her name divisional elite.

Roxanne Modafferi will enter the fight with a record of 20-13 in which she has faced former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Marloes Coenen, Invicta FC 23 headliner Vanessa Porto, ONE Championship’s Angela Lee, top UFC bantamweight contender Raquel Pennington, former Invicta FC champion Barb Honchak and many more. She is one of the most popular female MMA fighters and is recognized as a true pioneer of the sport. She gave her thoughts on her opponent in an interview with Pro MMA Now (also check out her interview with Cageside Press here).

“I am so excited to be facing Sarah D’Alelio. I feel she could be a title challenger even now. She’s beaten a lot of tough fighters and I know she’ll be tough. I respect her stand-up and ground game. This fight will be a test to see who can impose their will and their strengths. Yes, I believe a win over her will put me back in title contention.”

Sarah D’Alelio, on the other hand, will enter the fight with heavy momentum behind her. She is riding a three-fight win streak and is far and wide regarded as the top contender to the flyweight belt. She holds a record of 11-6, in which she has faced the likes of former UFC and Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, former Invicta FC champion Lauren Murphy, current Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger, current UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, and top flyweight Andrea Lee. She has both decent stand-up and a decorated submission game.

The fight will be super exciting. Expect it to be mostly contested on ground, given the two have a developed ground game and are most comfortable fighting on the mat. To be honest, I really can’t decide who will walk out with the win. Both should be favorites as they have rich history in the division. I’ll be leaning towards Roxanne Modafferi.

1. Vanessa Porto vs. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz

The main event of the evening will see undefeated Polish prospect Agnieszka Niedzwiedz lock horns with one of the two women to take Cris Cyborg the distance, Vanessa Porto. The two will fight to make a case for a title shot when they enter the cage Saturday night.

Vanessa Porto is far and wide regarded as one of the best flyweight fighters. She holds a record of 18-7, in which she has faced the likes of the powerful Cris Cyborg, current UFC featherweight champion Germaine De Randamie, current Invicta FC flyweight champion Jennifer Maia, current UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, WMMA pioneers Roxane Modafferi and Tara LaRosa, top flyweight contender Sarah D’Alelio, and former Invicta FC flyweight champion Barb Honchak. She will enter the cage attempting to bounce back from a loss in a title fight at Invicta FC 16 to Jennifer Maia.

Standing in her path will be Poland’s Agnieszka Niedzwiedz. Niedzwiedz today stands as one of brightest women flyweight prospects. She holds a record of 9-0 with wins over the likes of flyweight standout Christine Stanley. At just 21, she is the brightest European flyweight prospect. She gave her thoughts on Porto to Cageside Press.

“I am very happy to be a part of the main event. Vanessa Porto is very highly ranked and is amongst very best flyweights. Beating her will give me a lot and I will be more than happy to be first in line for the title. It is the biggest challenge so far in my career and I am looking forward to it.”

This is undoubtedly the toughest test of Agnieszka’s career. It’s best to just enjoy the action on Saturday night.