Virna Jandiroba put her foot on the gas and left Mizuki Inoue behind.
Repeated takedowns, superior positional control and damaging ground-and-pound carried the undefeated Brazilian to a split decision over Inoue, as she captured the vacant Invicta Fighting Championships strawweight title in the Invicta 28 headliner on Saturday at the Union Event Center in Salt Lake City. Judges delivered 49-46 scores across the board, with Rochelle Montanez inexplicably siding with Inoue (12-5) in a fight that never felt competitive.
Jandiroba (13-0) leaned on her strengths, moved into clinch range and planted her Japanese counterpart on the canvas over and over again. By the end of the first round, Inoue was suffering from severe swelling around her left eye -- a byproduct of the short punches and hammerfists she absorbed in full guard. Jandiroba nearly finished it in Round 3, where she advanced to the back, hunted the rear-naked choke and abused the onetime Deep Jewels champion with continuous ground-and-pound. Though she could not dispose of Inoue, the 29-year-old remained true to her game plan over the final 10 minutes and exited the cage with the most significant victory of her career.
In the co-main event, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 26 quarterfinalist DeAnna Bennett utilized a suffocating clinch to subdue Karina Rodriguez and walk away with a split decision at a 127-pound catchweight. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27, two of them siding with Bennett (9-3-1).
Had Rodriguez managed to maintain a safe distance, the fight likely would have looked much different. Bennett moved to the clinch, pressed the favored Lobo Gym standout against the fence and supplemented her control with knees to the legs and body. Rodriguez (6-3) did her best work in the third round, where she pieced together her punches, countered effectively and avoided engaging in close quarters. It was not enough to stave off the upset.
The loss halted a run of three consecutive victories for Rodriguez.
Related » Invicta FC 28 Round-by-Round Scoring
Meanwhile, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Milana Dudieva wiped out Christina Marks with punches in the second round of their flyweight showcase. Dudieva (12-7) brought it to a close 3:57 into Round 2, as she snapped a four-fight losing and won for the first time since August 2014.
Nothing overly meaningful occurred before the finish. Both women appeared hesitant, darting in and out of range while circling one another and pawing away with jabs. Marks (8-10) enjoyed some success with leg kicks, only to see her efforts unravel in the middle stanza. There, Dudieva followed a jab with a crushing overhand right that stunned and floored the King of the Cage alum. The 28-year-old then swarmed with punches until referee Bobby Wombacher swooped in to rescue Marks.
In other action, Pearl Gonzalez was awarded a unanimous decision over Kali Robbins in a three-round strawweight encounter, earning 30-27, 30-26 and 30-27 scores from the judges; Minna Grusander put away Fernanda Priscila Barros Pinheiro with punches and elbows 4:26 into the second round of their atomweight pairing; Kalyn Schwartz dispatched Kay Hansen with punches 4:27 into the second round of their strawweight tilt; Kerri Kennison took a unanimous decision from Chelsea Chandler in a three-round bantamweight affair, drawing 30-27 marks from all three judges; Jillian DeCoursey captured a unanimous verdict over Rebekah Levine in a three-round atomweight clash, sweeping the scorecards with 30-27s across the board; and Tracy Cortez pocketed a unanimous decision against Kaytlin Neil in a 15-minute confrontation at 125 pounds, prompting 30-27 nods on all three scorecards.