After winning two one-round exhibition bouts each Friday night, it was Jessica Delboni and Lindsey VanZandt throwing down in the finale of the Phoenix Series 4 atomweight tournament.
The one-night affair took place in Kansas City, providing the winner with a shot at 105lb champ Alesha Zappitella.
To start the night, it was VanZandt earning a submission win, an arm-bar on Katie Perez. The sub was the lone finish on Friday’s card to that point. In the semifinals, VanZandt took a decision against Linda Mihalec, while Delboni had won decisions against Tabatha Watkins and Marisa Messer-Belenchia to earn her spot in the final.
The opening frame of the three-round main event saw VanZandt on the outside, Delboni the aggressor. VanZandt would eventually circle out, but again, Delboni would press forward with a fast and furious combination. Where VanZandt did find success was with her kicks, creating space with a high kick. But following a takedown being stuffed, VanZandt was again on the defensive as Jessica Delboni hurled punches in bunches.
The immediate reaction following the first round was simple: Delboni had the edge, VanZandt had held her own, and it was a shame the fight couldn’t be a five round affair.
The second round once again saw Lindsey VanZandt on her back foot early. She did connect with a low kick, but when Delboni moved forward and attacked, it was several strikes landing, capped with a leg kick. Delboni went to the body as well as the head, though VanZandt had increased her volume as well — just not to the level of Delboni.
Once again in round three it was VanZandt on the outside, Delboni bringing the fight to her. Being first on the exchanges, and throwing with more power, was giving her the edge over “Damsel.” VanZandt had her moments, without question. And in the third, she appeared to pick up the pace, landing a hard right hand. Her takedowns continued to be stuffed, however, and Jessica Delboni was not to be denied. VanZandt’s final takedown attempt would be thwarted, while Delboni’s power and aggression were the story of the fight.
Just weeks after failing in her first bid to win gold against Alesha Zappitella, Delboni earned herself a second shot at the champ. Plus, the feather in her cap of being a Phoenix Series tournament winner.
“I am the real champ,” Delboni said following the win, in reference to her first bout with Zappitella, which many had her winning.
Official Result: Jessica Delboni def. Lindsey VanZandt by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)