It will go down as one of the most shocking upsets of 2016.
Yana Kunitskaya submitted Tonya Evinger with a first-round armbar to claim the Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title in the Invicta 20 headliner on Friday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. Evinger (18-5) -- as much as a -950 favorite with some sportsbooks -- conceded defeat 1:59 into Round 1, her nine-fight winning streak at an end.
Kunitskaya (10-2) remained cool under fire. Evinger executed a takedown inside the first 15 seconds and went to work, first from side control and then half guard. Kunitskaya ate a few elbows but moved into position for the armbar and bit down. Realizing her situation was dire, Evinger briefly stood on the face of the challenger in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure. She was unsuccessful and had no choice but to tap, as she suffered her first defeat in more than five years.
In the co-main event, Alliance MMA’s Angela Hill retained the Invicta strawweight championship with a workmanlike five-round unanimous decision over Kaline Medeiros. Hill (6-2) swept the scorecards with 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47 nods from the judges, as she recorded her fourth straight victory.
Medeiros (8-5) was competitive throughout but could not crack the champion’s code. Hill used her feet to weave in and out of danger, all while feeding the CES MMA veteran punches and chewing up her lead leg with kicks. “Overkill” held her own on the ground, as well, as she threatened Medeiros with a triangle choke in the first round and neutralized her efforts with effective scrambles and sweeps. The challenger fought with a sense of desperation down the stretch, but her bid to unseat Hill yielded no fruit.
The loss snapped a five-fight winning streak for the 37-year-old Medeiros.
Meanwhile, former Invicta atomweight champion Herica Tiburcio put a stop to a two-fight losing streak, as the 4-foot-11 powerhouse was awarded a unanimous decision over Simona Soukupova in a three-round encounter at 115 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Tiburcio (10-4).
Through two rounds, Soukupova (5-5-1) had no answer for the Brazilian’s forward pressure. Tiburco delivered a takedown and applied her ground-and-pound in the first round, as she established a foothold in the match. She also pieced together two- and three-punch volleys, firing off jabs, overhand rights and right uppercuts while incorporating leg kicks to balance her attack.
Tiburcio seemed to run out of gas in Round 3. There, Soukupova snapped back her head with stabbing right hands, pushed her to the fence and made her uncomfortable. Late in the round, she staggered Tiburcio with a two-punch combination and a knee the body. However, a well-timed ankle pick resulted in a takedown, stymied Soukupova’s advances and sent it to the scorecards.
Elsewhere, Team Quest export Ashley Yoder submitted Pancrase and King of the Cage veteran Amber Brown with a second-round armbar in their strawweight showcase. Yoder (5-1) brought it to a close 2:31 into Round 2.
Brown (6-3) enjoyed a strong start, as she chipped away at “The Ultimate Fighter 23” alum with leg kicks, executed a takedown and achieved full mount. However, momentum proved fleeting. Yoder swept into top position under threat of an omoplata late in the first round and turned the tide in her favor. She struck for a pair of takedowns in the second, moved to a seated position on Brown’s chest, tagged her with repeated hammerfists and snatched the armbar, going belly-down with the maneuver to force the tapout.
Yoder, 29, has rattled off four straight wins.
In other action, Pam Sorenson escaped with a split decision -- 30-27, 28-29, 30-27 -- over Jessica-Rose Clark in a three-round bantamweight clash; J.J. Aldrich captured a unanimous verdict from Lynn Alvarez in a 15-minute strawweight battle, sweeping the scorecards with 30-27 marks from all three judges; Alexa Conners took a split decision --29-28, 28-29, 29-28 -- from Stephanie Egger in a three-round bantamweight affair; and Miranda Maverick submitted Samantha Diaz with a rear-naked choke 4:26 into the first round of their strawweight pairing.