Pound for pound the best fight promotion on the planet, Invicta FC returns for its seventh show stacked to the rafters with talent. There are three straps on the line this time around, as Barb Honchak looks to defend the 125lb belt against ultra-talented Leslie Smith, while Carla Esparza battles Claudia Gadelha at 115lbs, and Lauren Murphy and Miriam Nakamoto fight for the inaugural Bantamweight belt.

There’s non-stop thrills on Invicta FC 7 card, so let’s dig into these title bouts and see what’s in store.

125 lbs. Title Fight – Barb Honchak vs. Leslie Smith: A marquee fight and surely one of the best of the night, newly minted champion Barb Honchak will look to stop the juggernaut that is Leslie Smith.  Honchak has been in the sport for a while, using a simple game plan of long-range attacks, sharp counters and a good mix of defensive and offensive clinch tactics. While she doesn’t have anything revolutionary, she does do everything perfectly and makes for a difficult opponent to close distance on or manipulate on the inside.  Being in peak physical condition, Honchak is set for five hard rounds with the pound for pound toughest female fighter in the world.

Smith comes into this off an easy win over Jennifer Maia, using her newfound size at Flyweight to manhandle her opponent, and her expert BJJ game to hustle her on the mat relentlessly. A skillful fighter, Smith has put together her resume not with any particular technique, but with the fact she’ll walk through anything her opponents throw her way and seemingly never slow down. Combine this with professional level cardio and a solid all-around game, and you have an opponent that will crumble all but the very best in the world under her heel.

I like Honchak and was confident in her ability to outwork a lethal opponent in Vanessa Porto to take the title, but Smith is another feat all together. It will take a masterful counter striker or wrestler to take Smith out of her game at 125lbs, and I just don’t think Honchak has the necessary style to derail this freight train. A spirited battle that goes the distance, but one where Honchak is clearly beaten to the punch more often than not and drops her strap to the new 125lb queen.


115 lbs. Title Fight – Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha: The fiery 115lb champion, Carla Esparza comes into this fight after nearly a year on the shelf due to a knee injury, but is geared up and ready to defend her belt for the first time. A fast wrestling-based grappler, Esparza has won the majority of her bouts due to her vicious hooks and grueling pace, showing she’s far more athlete than many of the ladies she’s tangled with. Having been sorely tested against the unheralded Bec Hyatt to gain her belt, she did however show an ability to fight for five rounds at breakneck speed, and may need to do the same here to keep her title.

A new fighter on the US circuit with a slew of BJJ accolades, Claudia Gadelha will look for her first title in MMA. A powerful competitor with seamless grappling and a healthy dose of aggression, Gadelha took on a stiff test in Ayaka Hamasaki in a title eliminator, but despite how the fight looked on paper, proved to be far beyond her opponent.  With equal parts physicality and technical savvy, there is no safe way to engage Gadelha, making her the fighter to beat at Strawweight.

Esparza is a strong fighter in the deepest division in WMMA, but Gadelha is the best female fighter on the planet, period. While Esparza might have a decent takedown and some hard punches in the pocket, Gadelha will absolutely demolish her on the mat with her tighter grappling and takedown game, putting Esparza on the defensive immediately and finishing her within two rounds.

135 lbs. Title Fight -Lauren (Taylor) Murphy vs. Miriam Nakamoto: A gritty and dangerous bantamweight riding an undefeated streak, Lauren Murphy gets her chance at the inaugural 135lb title, taking on elder muay thai master Miriam Nakamoto. Murphy has shown herself to be a fairly simple fighter, but in her case, she makes her limited arsenal work well with perfect execution and an athlete’s strength and endurance. On the flip side, Nakamoto comes into this with a wealth of muay thai experience, but is just starting to dip into MMA and has shown her inexperience in that realm. With only two fights under her belt, Nakamoto has to cover a great deal of ground to be able to compete, not only with Murphy, but with the rest of the division if she wants to keep her career afloat.

Nakamoto’s game is striking, and her traditional muay thai style works well in MMA, with a clear advantage in terms of her core strength and precision striking. Murphy may be the strongest fighter at 135lbs though and the fact Nakamoto will allow her to close distance gives her all the chance she needs to hit takedowns and grind Nakamoto to pieces. Unless Nakamoto can stay on her bicycle and chip away at Murphy, the Alaskan transplant will turn this into a drawn out grappling battle, finally getting a stoppage when Nakamoto’s endurance disappears late in the fight.

Invicta FC 7 takes place this Saturday and will air live via PPV beginning at 6pm PT / 9pm ET. There will be a one-hour pre show prior to the PPV that will air two fight free starting at 5pm PT / 8pm ET.

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