Evinger v. Kunitskaya 2: who won the Invicta FC bantamweight title?


A flurry of action took place this past saturday, including a bantamweight rematch that many had been anticipating and had brought about the question of, is Tonya Evinger really the undisputed champion?

Rematches generally come about because the first fight was one to remember, and because there is clearly some unsettled business in the ring between the two fighters. Both of these things are true for this rematch, and this fight meant a lot to both fighters.

For the challenger Kunitskaya, it means showing the Invicta FC crowd and the MMA world that she is more than just a kickboxer, and that she really can become the Invicta FC bantamweight champion. For the champ, it meant leaving no question or doubt in anyone's mind that Evinger is the champion in the bantamweight division, and all title challenges need to go through her. The latter is what happened saturday night between these two. 

What each fighter tried to do

Kunitskaya seemed to be doubted a bit going into this fight for whatever reason; perhaps she wasn't considered to be technical enough, or did not possess grappling and mat skills? That clearly was not the case in this match, as she made her living on the mat in the first round, trying to counter Evinger's initial takedown and turn it into a leg or arm bar that would get her the title by way of submission. She consistently had a hold of Evinger, and made things difficult for the champ all of round one.

Evinger was not deterred, however. After the initial takedown, she found openings to rain down hard shots to the body and face of the Russian challenger, and also calmly broke free of multiple submission attempts as well. At times it looked like Kunitskaya may have found the submission hold she was seeking, until Evinger unequivocally denied her the hold and punished her for the attempt. 

The second round was more of the same, with Kunitskaya trying to throw a few punches before unsuccessfully attempting a takedown. Evinger responded in kind with a successful takedown, and the story continued back on the mat, a place that clearly was going to favor the veteran wrester. A submission finally happened, and Evinger after a rear-naked chokehold Kunitskaya to a tap out, defended her bantamweight title. 

Evinger moves up to 19 victories, five defeats and one no content, while Kunitskaya drops to nine victories, three defeats and a no decision. While it might be unlikely, it would not be that surprising if these two fought again for a third title challenge, although Evinger will likely fight another title contender before that happens. That, and Kunitskaya has to win another fight or two to put herself right back into that main title challenger position. 

How the rest of Invicta 22 turned out

Along with the main event, here are how the other fights on the Invicta FC 22 fight card turned out:

Livia Renata Souza defeats Ayaka Hamasaki by TKO (strikes) in Round 1

Jodie Esquibel defeats DeAnna Bennett by split decision

Ashley Cummins defeats Amber Brown by unanimous decision

Sunna Davíðsdóttir defeats Mallory Martin by unanimous decision

Miranda Maverick defeats Kal Holliday by submission (armbar) in Round 1

Felicia Spencer defeats Madison McElhaney by unanimous decision