Lemoore, Calif. — On Thursday, Aug. 31, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted Invicta FC 25: Pa’aluhi vs. Kunitskaya from the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, Calif. The event streamed live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya captured Invicta gold, dominating fellow bantamweight Raquel Pa’aluhi over the course of five rounds. Kunitskaya utilized a strong clinch game in the opening rounds, hanging on Pa’aluhi along the fence. Pa’aluhi was able to score with a head-and-arm throw, but was unable to lock up a submission from top position. Kunitskaya continued her dominance, delivering numerous front kicks to maintain range. Pa’aluhi’s nose bled from the constant flow of kicks and knees from the Russian. Late in the fight, Pa’aluhi was desperate to get the fight to the ground, but Kunitskaya showcased strong takedown defense. Kunitskaya swept the scorecards, earning the belt.
The night’s co-main event saw Brazilians Livia Renata Souza and Janaisa Morandin do battle for three rounds. Morandin landed heavy right hands to open the contest, but Souza earned takedowns and imposed her grappling prowess. Morandin absorbed heavy shots from her back, but remained active. In round two, it was Morandin who locked up a triangle choke attempt from her back, but Souza was able to wait it out to the bell. Morandin continued her onslaught with punches in the final frame, but Souza’s ground game was too much. Souza handed Morandin her first loss with the decision verdict.
Germany’s Katharina Lehner impressed in her promotional debut, pounding out Alexa Conners inside the first round. Lehner came forward relentlessly, forcing Conners to keep her back against the fence. Conners looked to counter, but was overwhelmed by Lehner’s pace. Lehner’s output took its toll as the round progressed, as Conners dropped to the canvas and the referee stopped the contest.
Kali Robbins kept her undefeated record intact, ruining the return of Sharon Jacobson in under a minute. Jacobson landed a barrage of strikes to open the bout, wobbling Robbins. A huge takedown followed from Jacobson, but Robbins locked onto an arm and Jacobson was forced to submit.
Atomweights Shino VanHoose and Alyse Anderson engaged in a back-and-forth match-up with VanHoose edging out the decision win. VanHoose used her jab and counter left hook to land on the feet, prompting Anderson to look for takedowns. Anderson frequently took the fight to the ground, but VanHoose was able to tie her up and force the referee to stand up the fight. The final frame saw VanHoose score with strikes and earn the mount as Anderson failed on a takedown. VanHoose’s effort was enough to convince two of the judges to give her the decision win.
Newcomer Sarah Kleczka outlasted fellow bantamweight Amberlynn Orr to earn a split decision in a grueling affair. Kleczka was the aggressor, but Orr was able to close the distance and score from the clinch. Orr forced Kleczka to defend a guillotine attempt from the mount, but Kleczka countered with an armbar after recovering her guard. A majority of the fight was spent in the clinch, with Kleczka controlling the action and landing short knees. The judges were split, but Kleczka earned her first professional win.
Yaya Rincón remained undefeated, stopping opponent Courtney King in the second round. Rincón earned a quick takedown to start the fight, but King worked back to her feet. It would not last, as Rincón took the fight to the ground once more, but King reversed and took her back. Rincón fought off the submission attempts to see round two. The momentum swung heavily in her favor as she put King on her back and mounted her. A steady stream of strikes forced the referee to intervene and halt the bout.
Flyweight Cheri Muraski spoiled the pro debut of opponent Tracy Cortez, submitting her by guillotine choke. Cortez was aggressive early, pressing the action and bloodying the face of Muraski. Cortez looked to bring the fight to the ground repeatedly, but couldn’t get a takedown. Muraski took advantage, attacking the neck of Cortez and coercing the tap in round two.
Kicking off the night, atomweight Jillian DeCoursey edged out fellow newcomer Ashley Medina by split decision. Medina marched forward early, but DeCoursey scored with counter right hands. The pair exchanged through two rounds before DeCoursey took the fight to the ground in the final frame. She took Medina’s back and threatened with a choke, but ultimately settled for the decision victory.
Yana Kunitskaya def. Raquel Pa’aluhi by unanimous decision (50-45 x3) – for vacant bantamweight title
Livia Renata Souza def. Janaisa Morandin by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Katharina Lehner def. Alexa Conners by TKO (punches). Round 1, 4:21
Kali Robbins def. Sharon Jacobson by 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 by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Yaya Rincón def. Courtney King by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 3:41
Cheri Muraski def. Tracy Cortez by submission (guillotine choke). Round 2, 2:42
Jillian DeCoursey def. Ashley Medina by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
About Invicta FC:
Invicta Fighting Championships is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (Facebook.com/InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.