Karina Rodriguez Claims Gold, Alesha Zappitella Retains at Invicta FC 44

By: Lev Pisarsky
May 21, 2021

Two title fights each went the full 25 minutes on Invicta Fighting Championships's first event on Axs TV.

In the main event, Karina Rodriguez (9-4, 5-2 Invicta) outpointed Daiana Torquato (10-4, 0-1 Invicta) via unanimous decision. Rodriguez generally had more success at range, while Torquato was better coming forward and punching in the pocket and clinch. Torquato held the advantage early, taking the first stanza and winning the majority of the second frame. However, a knockdown by Rodriguez as the last seconds ticked by stole her the period.

Starting with Round 3, the Brazilian challenger tired while Rodriguez was the fresher of the two. Sherdog had it 49-46 for Rodriguez, and the judges had it 50-45, 49-46, 48-47. Rodriguez is now the Invicta flyweight champion on her second attempt, having earlier lost a title tilt to Vanessa Porto at Invicta 38.

In the co-main event, Alesha Zappitella (9-2, 6-1 Invicta) retained her atomweight championship via split decision over Jessica Correa Delboni (10-3, 2-2 Invicta) where sadly, the biggest story was the scorecards.

According to most, Delboni continually frustrated Zappitella's attempts to take the fight to the ground for five full rounds, continually stuffing takedowns both at range and in the clinch. She showcased a nice sprawl, angled off well, and was successful in battling for underhooks and framing off in the clinch. Meanwhile, she punished Zappitella with accurate technical strikes, including badly beating up her lead leg with kicks and repeatedly tagging her with punches, several of which hurt the champion.

Sherdog scored the fight a clean sweep for Delboni, 50-45. However, the judges didn't see it similarly, with 2 of 3 giving Round 1 to Zappitella and all three giving the second stanza to her, which utterly confused even the broadcast commentary team. Even David Sutherland's scorecard, who had it 48-47 Delboni, made little sense. It would be an interesting investigation to learn which fight Kevin Champion and Steven Graham were watching, both of whom had it 48-47 Zappitella.

In earlier action, Claire Guthrie (3-1, 2-1 Invicta) handed Juliana Miller (2-1, 1-1 Invicta) her first loss, defending against takedowns and scoring with strikes to win a unanimous decision at flyweight. Josee Storts (3-0, 2-0 Invicta) came in overweight for a flyweight tilt, but won a very close unanimous decision against fellow unbeaten prospect Maria Jose Garcia Favela (2-1, 0-1 Invicta). In preliminary action, Fatima Kline (1-0, 1-0 Invicta) debuted in style by submitting Ariana Melendez (1-1, 0-1 Invicta) via rear-naked choke at strawweight, and Elise Pone (1-0, 1-0 Invicta) stopped Chrissy Yandolli (0-1, 0-1 Invicta) midway through round 2 with a barrage of punches in a flyweight tussle.
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