(PRESS RELEASE) -- KANSAS CITY, Mo. On the heels of her second-career Invicta Fighting Championships “Fight of the Night” performance, crowd-pleasing, prolific striker Leslie Smith (5-3-1) of Pleasanton, Calif. has signed a new, multi-fight agreement with the women’s world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion and will drop from bantamweight (135 pounds) to flyweight (125 pounds) and challenge Jennifer Maia (7-2) of Curitiba, Brazil. at Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City on Saturday, July 13.
The winner of the Invicta FC 6 matchup between Smith and Maia will be awarded a title shot against newly crowned Invicta FC World Flyweight Champion Barb Honchak (8-2) of Bettendorf, Iowa.
“We are excited to bring Leslie under the Invicta Fighting Championships umbrella for the long-term and to watch her compete in a new weight class that is becoming super competitive in our promotion,” said Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp. “Since we launched our live event series last year, Leslie has demonstrated incredible tenacity and athleticism by putting on some of the most memorable fights in our cage. She is a true warrior as is her opponent Jennifer Maia, so we are looking forward to an explosive matchup between two of the sport’s stars on what will be Invicta FC’s biggest fight card to date.”
The 30-year-old Smith engaged in an all-out war with former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman at Invicta FC 5 at Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City on April 5. Following the conclusion of the three-round contest that many believe Smith won, however, Kaufman was awarded a controversial, split decision, prompting widespread boos from the displeased, capacity crowd.
Smith also won “Fight of the Night” honors at the inaugural Invicta FC event on April 28, 2012, after slugging it out relentlessly with fellow striker Kaitlin Young for the duration of their three-round bantamweight bout. The fight was declared a majority draw, setting up a much-anticipated rematch at Invicta FC 3 on Oct. 6 that saw Smith take charge and finish Young with an onslaught of punches from mount position in the second round (2:19) of the matchup.
Maia, a 24-year-old submission specialist, notched her first victory in the Invicta FC cage with a stunning upset, unanimous decision win over superstar Zoila Frausto Gurgel on April 5. Recognized as one of Brazil’s quickest rising stars, Maia made quick work of each of her first four professional career opponents, scoring a first round TKO (punches) in her pro debut on Suelen Pinheiro Ribeiro in 2009, and submitting each of her next three opponents inside the first round.
Tickets for Invicta FC 6: Cyborg vs. Coenen 2, go on sale soon.
In the main event of the stacked 13-bout card, ferocious KO artist and pound-for-pound sensation Cristiane Cyborg Justino (11-1, 1 NC) of Curitiba, Brazil will face off with fellow superstar and submission ace Marloes Coenen (21-5) of The Netherlands in the first-ever Invicta FC world featherweight (145 pounds) championship bout.
The showdown between rivals Cyborg and Coenen marks a highly-anticipated rematch to their explosive, barnburner first fight in Sunrise, Fla. on Jan 30, 2010 in which Cyborg emerged victorious by way of TKO (punches) in the third and final scheduled round (3:40) of action.
In the co-main event, reigning Invicta FC world strawweight (115 pounds) champion Carla Esparza (9-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. will put her title on the line against undefeated JEWELS champion Ayaka Hamasaki (9-0) of Tokyo, Japan.
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.