Invicta FC has a new flyweight champion, but the ending came in bizarre fashion.
Vanessa Porto defeated Pearl Gonzalez by technical decision (40-36, 39-37, 39-37) to capture the vacant Invicta 125-pound belt Friday night in the main event of Invicta FC 34 in Kansas City, Kan.
The bout went to technical decision after Gonzalez landed an inadvertent eye poke on Porto at 2:34 of the fourth round. Porto was unable to continue, as determined by the ringside physician. It was a deep poke and Porto had a cut on her eyelid. She was bleeding from her eye in the aftermath.
After an instant replay confirmation, the judges had to score all four rounds, including the partial fourth round that occurred to determine the technical decision. Porto had pretty clearly won the first three rounds and did seem to be rolling toward a decision victory. A technical decision was called, per rule, because it was ruled to be an accidental foul while in the fourth round of a five-round bout.
“That’s definitely not the the way I wanted the end of the fight to go, but I’m very emotional and happy right now,” Porto, a Brazilian, said afterward through a translator.
Gonzalez was apologetic afterward.
“It was an inadvertent eye poke,” she said. “I didn’t do that on purpose. I’m sorry, I hope she recovers well.”
Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) boxing commissioner Adam Roorbach told MMA Fighting that he chose to go to the instant replay just to determine he was correct in his assessment that it was an accidental, not intentional, foul from Gonzalez and that it was indeed foul.
“We just wanted to ensure that it was due to an illegal strike,” Roorbach said. “That’s what the referee [Nick Berens] had in the cage. But we can go to a replay on a fight-ending sequence. The screen is right there in front of us, so why not use it? We just wanted to make sure, even though we were 90 percent sure it was inadvertent, and that confirmed it.”
Porto (20-8) was in control of the fight, using her athleticism and wrestling to constantly get top position. She also did some damage to Gonzalez on the feet.
The Brazilian veteran has been knocking on the door of an Invicta title for some time. Porto, 34, is now on a two-fight winning streak. She had fought previously for the Invicta interim and undisputed flyweight titles, losing twice. Porto has been in Invicta since its second-ever show in 2012.
Gonzalez (9-4), a huge fan favorite, earned this opportunity with three straight wins coming off her release from the UFC in 2017. The Chicago native, who trains with the likes of Liz Carmouche and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane at Team Hurricane Awesome in San Diego, has improved greatly over the last two years. Gonzalez, 29, promised afterward that she’ll come back with a vengeance.
“Tonight wasn’t my night, but you better believe I’m coming f*cking back and I’m gonna be better,” Gonzalez said.
Karina Rodriguez earned herself a rematch of a previous loss and a spot one win away from a title shot.
Rodriguez defeated UFC veteran Milana Dudieva by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) to gain a berth in the Invicta FC women’s flyweight tournament final. The winner of the tourney will fight for the flyweight title.
Rodriguez will now meet another UFC alum, DeAnna Bennett, in the finals. Bennett beat Rodriguez by split decision in March 2018.
“It’s an honor and we’re gonna give a war,” Rodriguez said.
In the co-main event bout, Dudieva looked very good in the first round, taking Rodriguez down and controlling the fight from top position. She also rocked Rodriguez right at the end of the first. Rodriguez, an impressive boxer with power, rallied with her hands in the second and third rounds. Dudieva got another takedown in the third, but two judges felt that was not enough to give her the nod.
Rodriguez (7-3) has won three of her last four fights. The Mexico native, who trains with the UFC’s Alexa Grasso and Irene Aldana, only has the one loss during that span to Bennett. Rodriguez, 33, is 3-1 in Invicta.
Dudieva (12-8) was coming off a win over Christina Marks in March 2018. The Russian fighter has won five of her last six, including losses at bantamweight in the UFC. Dudieva, 29, has looked better fighting at flyweight since coming to Invicta.
In the other flyweight tournament semifinal, Bennett had a veteran effort in victory. Bennett grinded out a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Miranda Maverick to move into the tourney final. Bennett (10-4-1), a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter, has won two of her last three bouts since a draw against Melinda Fabian in her only bout with the UFC. Maverick (4-2) has now lost two of three.
In a flyweight tournament reserve bout, Tracy Cortez ensured a potential spot in the bracket in case anything goes wrong with any of the participants. Cortez defeated fellow prospect Erin Blanchfield via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in a tight contest. Cortez (5-1) has won five in a row.
Also on the card, Courtney King defeated Holli Logan by second-round submission and Victoria Leonardo beat Jamie Milanowski by first-round submission.
In the opener, Caitlin Simmons defeated Christina Ricker via second-round TKO to win her pro debut.
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