Kanako Murata Claims Invicta Strawweight Championship In Decision Victory

Kanako Murata prevailed in a five-round battle on Friday against Emily Ducote for the Invicta Strawweight Championship.

Going all 25 minutes of the fight, the fighters relied on scorecards to determine a winner. In a split decision, Murata walked away as the new champion (48-47 Murata, 48-47 Ducote & 49-46 Murata).

The championship was vacant before, as previous champion Brianna van Buren had dropped the belt to sign with the UFC.

Murata made her Invicta debut in June, defeating Liana Pirosin via rear naked choke. She had previously fought in JMMA promotions RIZIN, DEEP, Pancrase and Shoot Boxing.

This article is part of a series of coverage called the “JMMA Tracker.” The series keeps track of Japanese MMA fighter’s activities in other promotions around the world.


Invicta FC 38: Murata vs. Ducote Full Preview

Invicta FC will return on Friday night, including a main event that will see an up-and-coming flyweight in challenge Karina Rodriguez challenge long-time Invicta fighter Vanessa Porto. Also on the show, a new strawweight champion will be crowned as Kanako Murata and Emily Ducote compete. Live from the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, USA, let’s look at Invicta FC 38.

Bout 1: Serena DeJesus (1-0) vs. Taneisha Tennant (1-0) (Bantamweight)

The evening will open with two bantamweight fighters making their Invicta debut. Both undefeated with one victory, Serena DeJesus and Taneisha Tennant will face off. DeJesus first fought as an amateur in 2014, racking up a 5-2 record before moving to professional MMA, getting a decision victory. Tennant stayed undefeated as an amateur at 3-0, then got a first round stoppage victory in her pro debut.

Bout 2: Shaianna Rincon (2-0) vs. Auttumn Norton (0-1) (Featherweight)

The second bout of the evening is between two fighters very early in their careers. Undefeated featherweight Shaianna Rincon will face Auttumn Norton, who is attempting to come back from a loss. Both fighters have had all of their professional fights within Invicta. Norton had a 7-2 record as an amateur, with Rincon being an undefeated 4-0.

Bout 3: Lisa Verzosa (4-0) vs. Kerri Kenneson (3-1) (Bantamweight)

The third fight will see undefeated Lisa Verzosa face Kerri Kenneson. Verzosa has only been a pro since 2018, although she’s picked up four wins, all via decision. She has been fighting since 2014, finishing her amateur career with a 9-1 record. Kenneson got her first loss as a pro recently, losing in the first round to Stephanie Geltmacher. Unlike Verzosas, Kenneson’s career has happened in promotions outside of Invicta.

Bout 4: Shanna Young (6-2) vs. Maiju Suotama (8-4) (Flyweight)

Shanna Young and Maiju Suotama will face off for the second time this year. While their first meeting was only a one-round fight, Young defeated Suotama in September on an Invicta card. Previously, Young lost on Dana White’s Contender Series, a show where fighters compete for UFC contracts. This is the first proper fight that Suotama has taken in the Invicta promotion.

Bout 5: Mallory Martin (5-2) vs. Cynthia Arceo (5-1-1) (Strawweight)

Mallory Martin got a victory on Dana White’s Contender Series last summer, but sadly didn’t impress UFC brass. She returns to Invicta on Friday, facing Cynthia Arceo, who is making her Invicta debut. Arceo attained a 5-1-1 record within the King of the Cage promotion, 9-1-1 if you include the amateur bouts. On the same night as the strawweight championship bout, either Martin or Arceo could set themself up as a contender.

Bout 6: Vanessa Porto (21-8) vs. Karina Rodriguez (8-3) (Flyweight)

Vanessa Poro and Karina Rodriguez go up against each other in the co-main event of the evening. What was originally meant to be the main event for the Invicta Flyweight Championship was demoted to co-main after Rodriguez missed weight for the fight. Rodriguez is currently on a two-fight winning streak, getting decision victories against Milana Dudieva and DeAnna Bennett. Porto is on a three-fight winning streak, defeating Milana Dudieva and Mariana Morais before facing Pearl Gonzalez for the promotion’s flyweight belt. Porto has been in Invicta since nearly the start, fighting on the promotion’s second card ever in 2012.

Bout 7: Kanako Murata (10-1) vs. Emily Ducote (8-5) (Invicta Vacant Strawweight Championship)

In the main event of the evening, Kanako Murata and Emily Ducote will compete for the currently vacant strawweight championship. The former champion was Brianna Van Buren, who vacated the belt once she got a UFC contract. Murata has been undefeated since 2017, on a six-fight winning streak. She has four wins in RIZIN and most recently defeated Liana Pirosin via submission at Invicta FC 35. Ducote is coming off an Invicta win against Janaisa Morandin via first-round punches. Ducote previously had a 4-4 record in Bellator, notably fighting current Bellator Flyweight Champion Ilima-Lei MacFarlane.

Invicta FC 36 Live Report

After two major MMA shows already this week, we march past the halfway point of the fight with Invicta FC, live from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, USA. The nine fight card is headlined by Pam Sorenson and Kaitlin Young, fighting for the vacated Invicta FC Featherweight Championship.

Bout 1: Megan Cawley (0-0) vs. Julia Ottolino (0-0) (Bantamweight)

The evening started off with two fighters making their professional debut. Early on, Cawley landeda good overhand right. Ottolino was consistently landing leg kicks. Ottolino stormed forward with punches in the third minute, then clinched up against the cage. The second round had Ottolino mostly on the perimeter of the octagon. In the second minute of the final round, Ottolino came forward with tons of punches. Cawley stayed in the fight, but there was a moment where it looked scary for her. The fight went the distance with all three judges picking Julia Ottolino as the winner (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27)

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Cawley 9 9 9 27
Ottolino 10 10 10 30

Bout 2: Erin Harpe (1-0) vs. Auttumn Norton (0-0) (Bantamweight)

In the next fight we had two fighters who are also very early into their careers. Harpe landed a takedown after Norton had a good minute or so of striking. Harpe was in control on the ground for most of the round. Norton was able to defend a takedown in the second round. Norton had some great striking throughout the rest of the round. At the very start of the final round, Harpe scored a takedown. From bottom position, Norton started to bleed quite a bit around her nose. Near the end of the fight they stood up from the ground, with Harpe getting hit with after the bell. Also, at some point on the ground Harpe landed a knee to Norton, although it looked like a mistake. The fight went the distance, with Erin Harpe getting the split decision win (29-28 Harpe, 29-28 Norton & 29-27 Harpe).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Harpe 10 9 10 29
Norton 9 10 9 28

Bout 3: Chantel Coates (1-0) vs. Caitlin Sammons (1-0) (Flyweight)

Two undefeated fighters faced off in only their second fight of their careers respectively. The crowd was behind Chantel Coates as she is from Kansas. Her first fight set the record for the quickest finish in Invicta history (28 seconds). With 90 seconds left in the first round, Sammons got hurt by punches. As a response, she smiled. Coates had the better striking, and the fight stayed in stand-up for the whole first round. Sammons finally scored a takedown with a minute left in the second round. She took the back of Coates and put in a rear naked choke, ending the bout. After having a rough start, once Sammons got the fight into her comfort zone she was able to close it out.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Coates 10
Sammons 9

Bout 4: Alyse Anderson (4-1) vs. Katie Saull (3-3) (Atomweight)

In the first fight atomweight fight of the evening, Alyse Anderson fought Katie Saull, who is from Canada and fighting out of Ireland. Saull had UFC fighter Brad Katona in her corner. Anderson got on the back of Saull while standing, halfway through the round. She tried for a rear naked choke but couldn’t get it. Anderson was completely in control on the ground. When Saull went on her back, Anderson landed some strikes before she went back to trying for the rear naked choke. When the second round started, Anderson got it back to the ground after a minute of stand-up. Another takedown was landed with under a minute left in the second round. The final round was much like the ones before, with Anderson getting the fight to the ground and staying in the dominant position. The fight went the distance with Alyse Anderson getting the split decision win (30-27 Anderson, 29-28 Saull & 29-28 Anderson).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Anderson 10 10 10 30
Saull 9 9 9 27

Bout 5: Stephanie Geltmacher (4-0) vs. Victoria Leonardo (5-1) (Flyweight)

In the next fight, Stephanie Geltmacher put her undefeated record on the line against Victoria Leonardo. Throughout the first round it was Geltmacher who came forward with punches. Geltmacher was bleeding from the nose at the end of the round. In the first minute of the second round, Geltmacher did a judo throw for a takedown. She took the back of Leonardo and attempted a rear naked choke. Geltmacher’s bleeding was still going on. Geltmacher lost the position, not being able to get the choke under the chin of Leonardo. When they stood back up, Leonardo was the more mobile of the two fighters, still hopping around on her feet. With just over a minute left in the second round, Leonardo landed a great kick to the head. By the time the fight ended, Geltmacher was very bloody. The final round was slower paced stand-up, with the fighters throwing smaller combos. It wasn’t until the ten second clapper sounded that both fighters started to throw their fast punches from before. The fight went all three rounds, with Stephanie Geltmacher being told she was the winner (29-28 Leonardo, 29-28 Geltmacher & 29-28 Geltmacher). She was emotional in the post fight interview. After that, we were told by someone in the commission that they counted the scorecards wrong, and Victoria Leonardo actually won the fight.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Geltmacher 10 9 9 28
Leonardo 9 10 10 29

Bout 6: Jessica Delboni (8-1) vs. Lindsey VanZandt (6-1) (Atomweight)

In the sixth fight of the evening, Lindsey VanZandt made her return to Invicta, facing Jessica Delboni, in her Invicta debut. Some people might recognize VanZandt as the fighter who choked out JMMA fighter RENA cold back in June at Bellator. Delboni scored a takedown in the third minute of the fight. VanZandt was the dominant fighter in the second round, being in control on thr ground for most of the round. Delboni got a takedown early in the final round. The referee stood them up after a minute or so of inactivity. Delboni got another takedown as the fight reached the 15th minute. In yet another split decision, Jessica Delboni got the victory (29-28, 29-28 & 29-28).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total
Delboni 10 9 10 29
VanZandt 9 10 9 28

Bout 7: Janaisa Morandin (10-2) vs. Emily Ducote (7-5) (Catchweight 120lbs)

The co-main event of the evening had somewhat experienced strawweights in Janaisa Morandin and Emily Ducote facing off. In what was originally scheduled to be a strawweight bout, it was changed to a catchweight after Morandin weighed in at 119.6 lbs on Thursday. Ducote was often the one advancing in the first round. With a minute left in the first round, Ducote anded a right cross with dropped Morandin. After a few more punches, the referee stepped in and ended the bout.

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Total

Bout 8: Pam Sorenson (7-3) vs. Kaitlin Young (10-9-1) (Invicta Bantamweight Championship)

In the main event of the evening, Pam Sorenson and Kaitlin Young battled for the vacant Invicta Bantamweight Championship. Sorenson got a takedown in the second minute of the song. Young stood up, but Sorenson was still on her back. In the final minute of the song, Sorenson got another takedown and took the back of Young. When getting up, Young landed a knee to the head of Sorenson, who was grounded. A point was taken away due to this incident. Sorenson got on Young’s back and tried for a rear naked choke in the second round but had her arm above the chin. Young was able to take the top position for a minute or so before the referee stood them up. Sorenson failed at two takedown attempts before the round ended. Sorenson got a takedown after Young ruled the first two minutes of stand-up in the third round. On the ground, Young was on the top position. Sorenson caught her in an armbar, but Young escaped. Sorenson got another takedown in the first minute of the fourth round. Young got the most out of the exchange on the ground, trying for an arm and head choke it looked like. Young opened the final round with good striking, but like many times before, Sorenson landed a takedown. While on the ground, Sorenson started to bleed. She spent most of the round trying for a rear naked choke. The fight went all five rounds, leaving the fate of the fight in the hands of the judges. The judges scored it in favour of Pam Sorenson (50-44, 49-45 & 48-45).

My Scorecard:

Fighter Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Total
Sorenson 10 10 10 9 10 49
Young 8 9 9 10 9 45


The next Invicta show will be on September 6th, with the second Phoenix Series event, which is a one-night eight-fighter tournament. This time around, it will be a flyweight bracket.