Worldwide MMA Preview – Invicta FC and EFC

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All eyes are justifiably on UFC 189 this weekend but there is other action on show, the best card ever promoted by Invicta which includes three title fights and Limerick’s Catherine Costigan as well as an EFC Africa card from South Africa.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is probably the most terrifying striker there has ever been in women’s MMA. Her 13-1 (1 NC) record includes 11 victories by KO/TKO and her only defeat was a decade ago in her very first professional fight. Questions can be asked as to the strength of her opposition but she has run through everything put in front of her with ease. The biggest blemish on her record is a failed test for the steroid Stanozolol in 2011.

Her opponent Faith Van Duin is little more than a lamb to the slaughter here. She isn’t a bad fighter by any means, she has a serviceable ground game and good striking which is built upon her jab but this is one of the more one sided main events I can recall. The signs point to Cyborg attempting to cut to 135lbs to challenge Ronda Rousey in the near future.

The vacant Invicta bantamweight title will be on the line tonight also. The incredibly experienced Tony Evinger will take on Irene Aldana. Evinger is a very good wreslter but she will have her hands full against the Mexican here. Aldana has finished all five of her victories in the first round but Evinger has been fighting at a high level of competition for a long time. Ultimately this will come down to whether Evinger can get Aldana to the ground for long periods.

In the Atomweight division newly crowned queen Herica Tiburcio will defend her belt for the first time since she submitted Michelle Waterson against Ayaka Hamasaki. These two are both very good grapplers so I expect this fight to be decided on the ground. While both have tasted defeat before in their careers, neither has lost at 105lbs so it should be a fascinating match-up.

Away from the title action, Ireland’s Catherine Costigan puts her perfect 5-0 record on the line in her first fight in America against Amber Brown. These two are evenly matched and both are well rounded fighters. Costigan impressed in Cage Warriors and while all of her finishes have come by submission she is also a capable striker. I expect this to be a scrappy back and forth fight and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take fight of the night.

Elsewhere on the card former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Pannie Kianzad also makes her stateside debut against the Australian Jessy Rose-Clark. Marina Shafir, who is a training partner of Ronda Rousey looks to bounce back from a disappointing knockout loss against Amber Leibrock who is making her professional debut.

The weekend is fairly sparse as far as major MMA events go, which makes sense considering all the attention on the UFC this week but EFC Africa has a card coming from Johannesburg on Saturday.

The main attraction is bantamweight champion Demarte Pena. The Angolan native is a perfect 10-0 in his career to date. He was previously the EFC featherweight champion but he relinquished that belt and dropped to bantamweight rather than fight a teammate. In my opinion Pena is the most promising African fighter right now and I would not be surprised to see him make a move to the UFC in the next couple of years. He fights the South African Cedric Doyle who possesses an impressive 7-1-1 record in his own right.