Kansas City, KS — When Invicta FC returns Friday night with its Phoenix Series 3 card, it will be an experiment in open scoring. The Kansas athletic commission is introducing the system on a test basis this month, and Invicta is the first promotion to get to try it out. That means there will be a lot of interested onlookers, as the MMA community strives to fix what is a clearly problematic system that is marred, far too often, by bad judging.
Topping Invicta Phoenix Series 3 is a bantamweight title fight between Lisa Verzosa (formerly Spangler) and Julija Stoliarenko. But the real backbone of the card is a bantamweight tournament featuring three fights in a night (two one-round fights and a three-round finale) brimming with bantamweight prospects.
Check below come fight time for live results and a recap of the action from Invicta Phoenix Series 3!
Julija Stoliarenko def. Lisa Verzosa via split-decision (49-46, 46-48, 49-46) – for the vacant Invicta FC bantamweight championship
Round one of the main-event was a legitimate contender for round of the year. Julija came out firing heat early, and Versoza answered with a takedown. Julija answered with an armbar attempt to make it back to the feet. Where she would stun Versoza with a headkick and a flurry to go for the finish. She would drop down for an armbar attempt but to no avail, and Verzosa would end the round on top. All three judges gave round one to Julija.
Round two was a far more patient round from both fighters. Verzosa was looking to establish her right hand on the outside, and she began throwing it anytime Julija was going up for the headkick, which landed often for Verzosa. She fended off a takedown attempt by Julija and ended up getting the round on the judge’s scorecards. 19-19 after two rounds.
Round three looked like a horror movie, both fighters got massively cut open, resulting in blood all around the cage. Verzosa ate some more of those headkicks from Julija, but she landed some big elbows to slice Julija open. However, near the end of the round, Julija landed a massive elbow to slice Verzosa wide open. That round was scored, 10-9 Julija, 10-8 Verzosa, and 10-9 Verzosa.
Rounds four and five although toned down was still a lot of fun. Despite a massive cut on her face, Julija pushed the pressure and secured her victory, and the Invicta bantamweight title in the process. What a fight.
Taneisha Tennant def. Taylor Guardado via unanimous decision (30-27) – Phoenix Series Finals
Taneisha Tennant would dominate en route to become the Phoenix Series 3 Tournament champion. She used her jab and did an incredible job at using the range. Guardado couldn’t even touch her in the opening two rounds. Despite goung hardcore for the finish in the third round, Tennant stayed on her bike and jabbed away and landed the cleaner shots and went on to win via unanimous decision. Taylor Guardado’s comeback was not meant to be.
Kay Hansen def. Liana Pirosin via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27) – Flyweight Bout
The first fight with open-scoring in modern MMA history was dominated by Kay Hansen. Getting the takedown and the back within a minute, it appeared we wouldn’t be needing the judges, but Liana fought out and was able to defend. Hansen dominated the fight with her grappling and was heavy on top. Pirosin had no real success outside of fighting out submission attempts by Hansen. After the first two rounds, we knew Hansen was up big, and Pirosin has no answer in round three.
Taneisha Tennant def. Hope Chase via unanimous decision (10-9 3x) – Bantamweight Semi-Final Bout
Another close fight to close the book on the semis. Tennant did a good job of keeping Chase at the range, and landing some right hands. But Chase was ruthless in shooting for the takedown and working. However, Tennant’s defense was on point, and any time Chase shot in, she was elbowed into oblivion. That was how the fight would end, with Tennant elbowing Chase against the cage defending another half-hearted takedown attempt.
Taylor Guardado def. Serena DeJesus via split decision (10-9, 9-10, 10-9) – Bantamweight Semi-Final Bout
The first semi-final bout was a close affair. Guardado was in on the clinch early, but couldn’t do much with it. DeJesus shrugged her off and looked to do work at range and walk Guardado down. Guardado landed combinations at the range, and despite being the smaller fighter, was still able to do work in the clinch. Guardado would look to get a takedown to clinch the fight but was unable to. Regardless after they separated, Guardado was the quicker fighter and ended up getting the split decision victory.
Mitzi Merry def. Morgan Hickam via unanimous decision (10-9 3x) – Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 2
Mitzi Merry earned a victory in the second reserve bout. Hickam opened with a takedown attempt and Merry would counter with some phenomenal elbows that did some damage. Hickam would ultimately get the takedown but would be met with an omoplata attempt by Merry, who used that to get the back. She would get close to getting the choke finish but to no avail. She would, however, get the win via decision.
Kelly Clayton def. Florina Moeller via submission (rear-naked-choke) 4:51 of Round One – Bantamweight Reserve Bout No. 1
Kelly Clayton did not come to play. She opened the fight by rocking Moeller with a pair of giant right hands and never looked back. She dominated the fight from beginning to end, shrugging off Moeller’s attempts to take the fight to the ground and dominating on the feet landing whatever she wanted. Clayton got the takedown late and looked for the rear-naked-choke and got it. What a performance.
Taneisha Tennant def. Brittney Victoria via unanimous decision (10-9 3x) – Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 4
Taneisha Tennant looked like a sniper in her win over Brittney Victoria. Taking a little bit to get going, she couldn’t be touched by Victoria. Meanwhile, Tennant found her range and started landing right hands at will on Victoria. Rocking Victoria multiple times and nearly getting the finish, Taneisha Tennant earned her way into the next round.
Hope Chase def. Julia Ottolino via unanimous decision (10-9) – Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 3
Hope Chase looked like a mini Wanderlei Silva. Working to find her range against her taller foe, she got the takedown and soon was landing bombs on top. Ottolino looked for an armbar off her back but to no avail. Ottolino scrambled out from the bottom and made it back to her feet, but she spent the duration of the round getting bombed on. Hope Chase couldn’t miss with her ruthless hooks on the feet, and it led to her advancing.
Taylor Guardado def. Claire Guthrie via unanimous decision (10-9 3x) – Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 2
Taylor Guardado took nearly ten years off from competing, and she tried to make up for lost time quickly. Taking Guthrie down quickly and landing in guard, Guthrie went for a triangle attempt but couldn’t secure it. Guardado would get stood up for a lack of action, but soon would be back in the clinch. Guthrie did her best to shake her off but to no avail. Guaradao’s grappling would send her to round two.
Serena DeJesus def. Kerri Kenneson via unanimous decision (10-9 3x) – Bantamweight Tournament Quarterfinal No. 1
Kerri Kenneson was one of the more experienced fighters in the field. She opened with a big takedown and had DeJesus on the ground briefly. But DeJesus quickly scrambled up and mixed in combinations and beautiful work in the clinch landing elbows and knees to bloody up Kenneson. She did the better work in the clinch and on the feet, and despite Kenneson getting a late takedown it wouldn’t be enough to stop DeJesus.