Card preview – Invicta FC 39: Frey vs. Cummins

KANSAS CITY is set to host the maiden Invicta fight card for 2020 this weekend, headlined by an atomweight championship bout between Jinh Yu Frey and first time title challenger, Ashley Cummins. Littered with entertaining bouts across three weight divisions, the 39th Invicta Fight Championship instalment promises to be a fun one.

Atomweight | Jinh Yu Frey [C] vs. Ashley Cummins

Jihn Yu Frey makes her second Invicta atomweight title defence against familiar foe, Ashley Cummins in the weekend’s headline bout, as se looks to return to the winners list. Frey fell short in her attempt at Ayaka Hamasaki‘s Rizin strap in mid-2019, but comes in off two decision wins over former champion, Minna Grusander in her current promotion. Cummins, who is also on a two-fight win streak in the promotion suffered her last loss against Frey back in 2017, with the chance to even the ledger coming alongside the incentive of ultimate glory. The challenger has been made to wait for her shot too, with the rematch originally touted for Invicta 27’s main event, but rebooked as Frey was forced to pull out due to injury. An even contest on paper and in practice given their first meeting, Cummins may be the one to wring in the changes given she failed to get the nod last time out. She was active on the mat in that bout, searching for submissions, but has to find a balance between asserting that same urgency and being able to maintain dominant positions for longer. A tough one to call, but Frey’s recent experience against the best of the best should bode well.

Prediction: Frey via decision.

Flyweight | Pearl Gonzalez vs. Miranda Maverick

Former flyweight title challenger, Pearl Gonzalez will look to advance her turn back to the top when she faces Phoenix Series 2 Flyweight Tournament winner, Miranda Maverick. A two-fight UFC veteran, Gonzalez has gone undefeated since her move to Invicta in 2018 – only barring a bizarre technical decision loss to current champion, Vanessa Porto. She plays the role of the seasoned gatekeeper type in this bout against an exciting up-and-comer in 22-year-old Maverick, whose last loss came on the same card Gonzalez’s title bout headlined. But her four wins since suggest she is ready to take the next step, and toppling a name like Gonzalez would do wonders for her notoriety in the wider women’s MMA scene. For Gonzalez, keeping the gate firmly shut would go a long way towards a second title shot, and she will need to lean on all her experience to get it done. Her nous on the ground may not be as pronounced as Maverick, but her much greater wealth of cage time (six more fights) against a higher level of opponent would suggest she answers every challenge posed by Maverick. If Gonzalez can wrestle well defensively and capitalise on the moments up top, expect her to have her hand raised. If Maverick can take the fight to the ground and work submissions, she gets the nod.

Prediction: Gonzalez via decision.

Flyweight | Shanna Young vs. Daiana Torquato

Four-promotion veteran Shanna Young steps up in place of Mariya Agapova to take on Daiana Torquato in their flyweight meeting on two week’s notice. Young, a Contender Series graduate of 2019 will look to quickly back up her unanimous decision victory over Maiju Suotama in November, but faces a tough ask in derailing Torquato’s seven-fight winning run. The Brazilian technically had a loss thrown in there during her Phoenix Rising Series exhibition run, but makes her promotional debut with plenty of strong performances under her belt elsewhere. The greater depth of performances at a higher level points toward her having success here, but she will need to weather the threats that Torquato brings both on the feet and mat.

Prediction: Young via submission.

Atomweight | Alesha Zappitella vs. Kelly D’Angelo

Two fighters with exactly opposing formlines meet when Alesha Zappitella and Kelly D’Angelo do battle at atomweight. D’Angelo comes in having extended a 2-2 record to 4-2 with a unanimous decision win in each of the last two years, continually developing her game at the ripe age of 33. Her 24-year-old opponent suffered her first and only two career losses most recently, but boasts one more fight and win overall than her elder compatriot. An able wrestler, Zappitella uses every fast twitch fibre in her 4’11” frame to get fights to the mat, with her obviously low centre of gravity aiding that grappling aspect. But every fight starts on the feet, and D’Angelo will have to battle to keep it that way, or ensure she can establish dominant positions under oncoming pressure. There are only three wins via finishes between the two in their short careers, but expect some highlights on the way.

Prediction: Zappitella via decision.

Flyweight | Erin Blanchfield vs. Victoria Leonardo

Another Phoenix Rising Series 2 alum, Victoria Leonardo takes on 20-year-old prospect Erin Blanchfield in the card’s first flyweight match-up. The 6-1 Leonardo has fought over four promotions and will notch up the same amount of Invicta fights in this bout, looking to make it five-consecutive professional wins. But she is met by a young blood and a true martial artist in Blanchfield, who is an Eddie Bravo Invitational champion having taken up jiu jitsu from a young age. The wunderkind has risen to 4-1 in her MMA career, only going down via split decision to the UFC’s Tracy Cortez last February. A win over Leonardo, who has fought other notable Invicta mainstays, would help her maintain an upward trajectory, but her opponent’s four career submission victories are not to be overlooked.

Prediction: Blanchfield via submission.

Atomweight | Jillian Decoursey vs. Linda Mihalec

A pair of relative MMA newcomers take to the cage as 35-year-old Jillian Decoursey takes on fellow late bloomer, Linda Mihalec in one of the card’s early fights. The two boast just seven professional bouts between them, but respectively etched out impressive amateur records before making the step-up. Decoursey has had four of her five professional fights go to decision, only just edging a positive record having previously suffered consecutive defeats. A jiu jitsu practitioner who is also well versed on the feet, the American will have to be wary of her compatriots’ own grappling skills. Mihalec comes in at 2-0, less experienced despite being two years the elder, but has looked impressive thus far.

Prediction: Decoursey via decision.

Bantamweight | Tina Pettigrew vs. Monica Franco

Promotional newcomers make up the event’s opening bout and sole bantamweight act, as 1-0 fighters Tina Pettigrew and Monica Franco first take the floor. Franco’s one-fight status is somewhat deceptive given her 10-fight amateur career which extends back to 2009, with her sole professional bout coming almost five years ago. Pettigrew, on the other hand has been active of late, turning pro on the back of five amateur wins all within the last two years. It seems like somewhat of a match-up which will allow Pettigrew to get her feet wet in the professional setting, but Franco’s experience and time off may bode well for her.

Prediction: Pettigrew via decision.

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Felice Herrig
4 years ago

Pearl Gonzales is my favourite MMA fighter. She lost her first two UFC fights to Cynthia calvillo and poliana bothelo causing her to be released by the promotion. Obviously, UFC was not her place. Now fighting in Invicta fc and performing perfect.