10 August Tussles Worth Watching - Kunitskaya vs. Pa'aluhi

By: Brian Knapp
Aug 2, 2017

In an effort to bring more attention to the global stage of mixed martial arts, this list does not focus on major North American-based promotions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Bellator MMA and the Professional Fighters League.

The void left by the departure of Tonya Evinger will soon be filled.

Yana Kunitskaya will take on Raquel Pa'aluhi for the vacant Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title in the Invicta 25 headliner on Aug. 31 at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California. The event will stream to UFC Fight Pass in its entirety at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, with the winner replacing the UFC-contracted Evinger on the 135-pound throne.

Kunitskaya was briefly in possession of the Invicta bantamweight championship, but a November submission victory against Evinger was overturned due to an officiating error. The 27-year-old Russian lost the rematch four months later, as she succumbed to a second-round rear-naked choke. An accomplished muay Thai practitioner and taekwondo stylist, Kunitskaya started her professional career with eight wins in her first nine appearances -- a run that included a 34-second stoppage of Cindy Dandois in 2010.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Robert Drysdale, Pa’aluhi has hit her stride. The 27-year-old Hawaiian lost four of her first six bouts but had a difficult row to hoe, as those four losses came to Sarah D’Alelio, Sara McMann, Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. Pa’aluhi has since gone 4-1. She last appeared at Invicta 21 on Jan. 14, when she submitted Pannie Kianzad with a first-round rear-naked choke.

Kunitskaya-Pa’aluhi is but one under-the-radar clash worth catching during the month of August. Here are nine more.

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