KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Oct. 11, 2013) – Women’s world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion Invicta Fighting Championships will return to Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City with a stacked, nine-bout event featuring three world title fights, including a main event showdown between reigning flyweight champion Barb Honchak (8-2) of Bettendorf, Iowa and three-time “Fight of the Night” winner Leslie Smith (6-3-1) of Pleasanton, Calif.
Tickets priced from $35, for the highly-anticipated return of Invicta FC women’s MMA action go on sale at 10 a.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 18, at TicketFly.com.
“We are excited about returning to the big stage in full force with another loaded card featuring a fantastic mix of world championship bouts and other world-class MMA action that will see a collection of the best women fighters on the planet face off against each other,” said Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp.
In the co-main event, Carla Esparza (9-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. will put her strawweight (115 pounds) championship on the line against surging, undefeated superstar Claudia Gadelha (11-0) of Mossoro, Rio Grande Do Norte Brazil.
In the first-ever Invicta FC bantamweight (135 pounds) world championship bout, hard-hitting KO artist Lauren Murphy (7-0) of Anchorage, Alaska will battle fellow unbeaten star Miriam Nakamoto (2-0, 1 NC) of Dublin, Calif.
The 34-year-old Honchak, a protégé of former world champion Pat Miletich, dominated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Vanessa Porto to become the first Invicta FC 125 pound champion in history on July 13. The victory was Honchak’s seventh straight.
Smith, a 31-year-old striking aficionado, has become a memorable face by engaging in all-out slugfests with her opponents on the five Invicta FC cards that she has appeared on. On July 13, Smith, in her firsts start at flyweight after a healthy run at bantamweight, outgunned Jennifer Maia to earn a unanimous decision after three rounds of action.
The 26-year-old Esparza, a student of famed trainer Colin Oyama, will step in the cage for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in training earlier this year. In her last effort at Invicta FC 4 on January 5, she notched her fourth consecutive win, a unanimous decision over “Rowdy” Bec Hyatt.
Gadelha has been unstoppable with her submission game and, lately, her striking, since turning pro in 2008. The 24-year-old will make her second start under the Invicta FC banner after scoring a third round (3:58) TKO on JEWELS champion Ayaka Hamasaki with a barrage of punches on July 13.
Murphy has been perfect, thus far, in the Invicta FC cage, earning back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Kaitlin Young and Sarah D’Alelio on April 5 and July 13, respectively. Prior to her Invicta FC debut, the 30-year-old had scored TKO finishes on all five her career opponents.
The 37-year-old Nakamoto, a seasoned Muay Thai champion extended her unblemished record at Invicta FC 6, scoring a thunderous first round (2:08) TKO on Duda Yankovich with a knee strike and series of punches. The finish earned Nakamoto “KO of the Night” honors.
In other main card action, Felice Herrig (9-4) of Buffalo Grove, Illin. will make her highly-anticipated Invicta FC debut and put a four-fight win streak on the line in a strawweight matchup opposite unbeaten, fast-rising star Tecia Torres (3-0) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Another matchup of unbeaten rising stars will pit Joanne Calderwood (7-0) of Glasgow, Scotland against Katja Kankaanpaa (8-0-1) of Seinajoki, Southern Ostrobothnia Finland at strawweight.
Heavy-handed powerhouse Julia Budd (5-2) of Port Moody, British Columbia Canada will put a three-fight win streak on the line against submission ace Charmaine Tweet (4-3) Regina, Saskatchewan Canada in a featherweight (145 pounds) scrap.
Porto (15-6) of Sao Paulo, Brazil will look to rebound from a defeat the hands of Honchak at the last Invicta FC event in July when she collides with fellow superstar Zoila Frausto Gurgel (12-3) of Cincinnati, Ohio at flyweight. Porto has claimed 10 of her 15 professional career victories by way of submission while Gurgel has defeated a host of top rivals, including Jessica Aguilar and Megumi Fujii during her outstanding four plus year professional career.
Kelly Kobold (18-3) of Minneapolis, Minn. will make her long-awaited Invicta FC debut in a bantamweight tilt with fellow ferocious finisher Tonya Evinger (11-6) of Odessa, Mo.
In another meeting between two Invicta FC newcomers, hard-punching Munah Holland (5-2) of Elmwood Park, N.J. will face streaking Nina Ansaroff (5-4) of Fort Lauderdale at flyweight.
About Invicta Fighting Championships: Invicta Fighting Championships (www.invictafc.com) is a world championship 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 and sports aficionado Janet Martin, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible matchups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport.
About Ameristar Kansas City Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City is owned and operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Ameristar Casinos, Inc. (NASDAQ-GS: ASCA), and is a premier property characterized by a state-of-the-art casino floor and outstanding dining, lodging and entertainment options. The property features the largest casino and the most games in the Kansas City area, as well as one of the largest poker rooms in the Midwest. Ameristar offers nine diverse dining venues -- The Horizon Buffet, The Falcon Bakery, Pearl’s Oyster Bar, Great Plains Cattle Co., Amerisports Brew Pub, Casino Deli, Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, Burger King and Sbarro The Italian Eatery, as well as the Star Club, a private players’ lounge. Entertainment amenities include the Star Pavilion, featuring national headliners; Depot #9, with popular regional and local acts; the Regal Cinema’s Kansas City 18 Theater; Hi-Vi video arcade; and Kids Quest, a supervised child-care facility. The property also includes a 184-room hotel. The property was awarded “Favorite Casino” for the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association’s 2012 Visitor Choice Awards. Best Casino in 2012 Ingram’s Magazine “Best of Business Awards;” in the 2003, 2005, 2007 – 2009, 2011 Kansas City Magazine’s “Best of Kansas City” readers’ poll and 2011 Best Casino in Home in the Northland Magazine’s readers’ poll. Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City also was awarded Best Steakhouse, Best Buffet, Best Live Poker and Best Tournaments in the 2012 Casino Player Magazine’s “Best of Gaming” awards.