Roxanne Modafferi at first glance may not seem like the violent type, but looks can be deceiving.
“The Happy Warrior” kept her place near the front of the line in the Invicta Fighting Championships flyweight division, as she took care of Sarah D'Alelio with third-round elbow strikes in the Invicta FC 23 co-main event on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Modafferi brought it to a close 1:37 into Round 3, her opponent’s blood pooled on the canvas.
D’Alelio staggered “The Ultimate Fighter 18” quarterfinalist with a stout right hand inside the first 10 seconds but spent the rest of the match on her heels. Modafferi bullied her to the mat behind a jarring left hand and drew her further and further into a labyrinth of ground exchanges. She made a strong case for a 10-8 round in the middle stanza and picked up where she left off in the third. There, Modafferi secured a takedown, advanced to mount and unleashed a series of short elbows, one of which resulted in a deep gash on D’Alelio’s forehead. After a few more unanswered blows, referee Mike England had seen enough.
In the aftermath of Invicta 23, here are four matches that ought to be made:
Related » Invicta FC 23 Round-by-Round Scoring
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Jennifer Maia: A case can be made that Modafferi is peaking at age 34. She has gone 6-2 since enduring a five-fight losing streak between July 23, 2010 and Nov. 30, 2013 -- an extended run of success that includes victories over Tara LaRosa, Andrea Lee, Mariana Morais and DeAnna Bennett. Having found a home at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, the well-traveled Modafferi has pieced together back-to-back victories since she failed to unseat Maia and lost a five-round split decision to the Invicta flyweight champion in September. Perhaps rounds five through 10 are in order.
Agnieszka Niedzwiedz vs. Andrea Lee: Niedzwiedz kept her perfect professional record intact with a somewhat controversial but no less satisfying unanimous decision over Vanessa Porto in the main event. All three judges scored it 29-28. The victorious 22-year-old Polish prospect proved she could hang with the flyweight division’s elite while at the same time showing she could probably benefit from further seasoning before she takes aim at an Invicta championship. Lee, meanwhile, handled her business further down the card by outpointing Liz Tracy across three rounds. The reigning Legacy Fighting Alliance champion has rattled off three straight wins.
Herica Tiburcio vs. Mizuki Inoue: With designs on reclaiming the Invicta atomweight championship, Tiburcio did enough to warrant a split decision over Tessa Simpson in their competitive three-round encounter at 105 pounds. The 24-year-old Brazilian has beaten Simpson and Simona Soukupova in succession since suffering consecutive defeats to current champion Ayaka Hamasaki and No. 1 contender Jinh Yu Frey. Inoue -- who has graduated from prodigy to prospect to contender -- finds herself on a four-fight winning streak. Still just 22, she last appeared at Invicta 18 in July, when she submitted Lynn Alvarez with a second-round armbar.
Kelly Faszholz vs. Jessica-Rose Clark: Following a failed two-fight stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Faszholz made a strong first impression in her Invicta debut. The Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance export earned a unanimous decision against an overweight Elizabeth Phillips in their catchweight clash at 140 pounds, the win helping to ease whatever doubt remained from her losses to Ketlen Vieira and Lauren Murphy inside the Octagon. Clark, 29, last competed at a Battlefield Fighting Championship event on March 18, when she dropped a unanimous verdict to former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman in Seoul. She owns a 0-2 mark in Invicta, having lost decisions to Pam Sorenson and Pannie Kianzad.