Invicta FC 39 preview: Jinh Yu Frey set to defend atomweight title 1

On Friday, Feb. 7, Invicta FC will return to Kansas City, KS for Invicta FC 39: Frey vs. Cummins II. In the main event, Jinh Yu Frey will defend her Invicta atomweight belt against the streaking Ashely “Smashley” Cummins. The fight is a rematch of their 2017 non-title bout that saw Frey walk away with a closely-contested unanimous decision victory.

Frey vs. Cummins

This bout represents Frey’s second defense of her championship. In 2018, Frey won the then-vacant atomweight title with a somewhat controversial decision over Minna Grusander. Five months later, she defended that title successfully with an even more controversial decision win over Grusander again. In June of last year, Frey came up short in her attempt to capture the Rizin atomweight championship from Ayaka Hamasaki. Frey was scheduled to defend her Invicta title against Cummins in October 2019, but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

At 34-years old, Frey is a superb athlete. And while she is technically proficient in all areas, it’s that athleticism that forms the basis of the champion’s game. On the feet, Frey is a decent boxer that pieces combinations together well and can throw with power. On the ground, she is control-oriented from top position and rarely makes careless errors. Frey is at her best, though, when she is using her physicality to transition between striking and grappling, hitting blast double legs in the middle of the cage to landing strikes on the mat, and largely resembling the ideal “well-rounded” fighter.

Cummins, too, has well-rounded skills, but she tends to do her best work on the mat, where she can use her technical grappling and submission attack from both top and bottom positions. Cummins is far from lost on the feet, but she is almost always throwing punches with the end goal of setting up a takedown. And while Cummins won’t pull guard, she’s happy to work from her back if she finds herself in that position.

In their first fight, Frey used her wrestling to dictate where the fight took place, but Cummins was able to threaten near-submissions for minutes on end during the middle round. Since then, Cummins has fought (and won) just twice, so it’s not entirely clear if she’s made the necessary adjustments to beat the champion. By that same token, Frey’s two Invicta title fights since she first met Cummins were razor-close affairs and she’s coming off a loss to Hamasaki, so Cummins may be able to exploit new weaknesses in the champion’s game.

Gonzalez vs. Maverick

In the co-main event, former Invicta flyweight title challenger and UFC veteran Pearl Gonzalez takes on Phoenix Series tournament winner Miranda Maverick in a top-contender bout. One of the promotion’s consistent stars since early 2018, Gonzalez won three straight before unsuccessfully challenging Vanessa Porto for her flyweight title almost exactly one year ago. In October 2019, Gonzalez bounced back to the win column with a dominant victory over the then-undefeated Brogan Walker-Sanchez.

Maverick has long been considered one of the promotion’s brightest prospects. Still just 22-years old, she has spent nearly her entire professional career with Invicta, racking up five official wins, as well as two “exhibition” wins as part of her one-night tournament victory last September. While she’s still a wrestler and grappler at heart, Maverick continues to show steady improvements in her striking and may be able to compete with the more experienced Gonzalez on the feet. This bout should be a measuring stick for the much-hyped Maverick; if she’s able to get past Gonzalez, she could very well earn a call directly to the UFC.

Flyweight prospects and the rest

Lower on the card, Contender Series and Phoenix Series veteran Shanna Young meets fellow Phoenix Series veteran Daiana Torquato in a pivotal flyweight fight. Also, fan-favorite Alesha “Half Pint” Zappitella will look to bounce back from back-to-back defeats in her young career when she meets Missouri’s own Kelly D’Angelo, who is riding a two-fight win streak.

In an important match-up of top flyweight prospects, 20-year old grappling ace Erin Blanchfield will face Victoria Leonardo. Blanchfield is already a veteran of five pro fights, with her lone loss coming to current UFC fighter Tracy Cortez. Leonardo has fought for LFA, Invicta, and Bellator. She is 6-1 as a professional and has only ever lost to Maverick. In short, this is a fight between two of the promotion’s best overall prospects.

Invicta FC 39 will take place on Friday, Feb. 7 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. It will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 8:00 PM ET.

Invicta FC 39 complete card:

  • Jinh Yu Frey (champion) vs. Ashley Cummins (for the atomweight championship)
  • Pearl Gonzalez vs. Miranda Maverick (flyweight)
  • Shanna Young vs. Daiana Torquato (flyweight)
  • Alesha Zappitella vs. Kelly D’Angelo (atomweight)
  • Erin Blanchfield vs. Victoria Leonardo (flyweight)
  • Jillian DeCoursey vs. Linda Mihalec (atomweight)
  • Kristina Pettigrew vs. Monica Franco (bantamweight)

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