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Invicta Phoenix Series 3 preview: A bantamweight tournament and title fight

Invicta Phoenix Series 3 preview: A bantamweight tournament and title fight

On Friday, March 6, Invicta FC will return to Kansas City, KS for the third installment of its one-night tournament, the Phoenix Series. This time, eight bantamweight fighters, all still young in their professional careers, are set to fight up to three times in the span of a few hours to become a Phoenix Series champion. And after the tournament is completed, in the night’s main event, undefeated top prospect Lisa Verzosa will square off with The Ultimate Fighter veteran Julija Stoliarenko for the vacant Invicta bantamweight title.

The Tournament

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A slight departure from its previous two Phoenix Series tournaments, Invicta has stacked the bantamweight tournament with athletes that have shown serious promise but are nonetheless very early in their careers. Of the eight athletes involved, Kerri Kenneson is the most experienced with a 3-2 record. The remaining fighters all have four or fewer fights under their belts, and one fighter is making her professional debut in the tournament. With a relatively inexperienced field, there is no clear tournament favorite; each and every fighter involved has a real chance to win it all.

Like previous Phoenix Series shows, the tournament will involve quarterfinal and semifinal rounds consisting of one-round, five-minute fights. The tournament finale will be a typical three-round affair. All quarterfinal match-ups will be assigned according to a random draw.

The following eight bantamweights are scheduled to compete in the Phoenix Series 3 tournament:

  • Serena DeJesus (1-1) – A training partner to UFC contender Roxanne Modafferi, DeJesus lost her Invicta FC debut to fellow Phoenix Series fighter Taneisha Tennant in a competitive three-round decision.
  • Julia Ottolino (1-0) – Undefeated as an amateur, the 30-year old Ottolino was successful in her professional and promotional debut when she earned a decision win over Megan Cawley at Invicta FC 36.
  • Kerri Kenneson (3-2) – The most experienced fighter in the field, Kenneson is coming off a close but entertaining decision loss to bantamweight title challenger Verzosa.
  • Claire Guthrie (1-0) – At just 24-years old and training out of Team Elevation, Guthrie is a top-shelf prospect worth watching. She won her professional debut in a flyweight bout, submitting Jordan Kaaze at Invicta FC 37.
  • Brittney Victoria (3-1) – After going 3-0 in 2018, Victoria will look to bounce back from a June 2019 to Chelsea Chandler at Invicta FC 35.
  • Taylor Guardado (pro debut; 9-1 amateur) – Following a stellar amateur career that saw her earn wins over Raquel Pennington and Ashlee Evans-Smith (and a lone loss to Ronda Rousey), Guardado returns from an eight-year hiatus to make her professional debut.
  • Taneisha Tennant (2-0) – After a first-round TKO in her professional debut and out-striking DeJesus at Invicta FC 38, Tennant will look to remain undefeated on the strength of her kickboxing attack.
  • Hope Chase (2-1) – Another prospect to watch, the 21-year old Chase impressed fans with a first-round submission of Megan Cawley at Invicta FC 37.

Verzosa vs. Stoliarenko for the bantamweight title

The main event may very well be a coming-out party for elite bantamweight prospect Verzosa. After amassing a 9-1 amateur record, the ATT Portland product has earned four of her five professional wins inside the Invicta cage. The combined record of Verzosa’s opponents when they fought her is an impressive 16-3.

Verzosa is ruggedly durable and other-worldly tough. Although she began her professional career as a takedown and ground-and-pound artist, she has lately shown a willingness and ability to strike, making her a multi-dimensional threat. Verzosa holds a win over former Invicta FC title challenger Katharina Lehner in a fight that took place almost exclusively on the feet.

The prospect will have her hands full, though, when she meets Stoliarenko. A 12-fight veteran and cast member on The Ultimate Fighter Season 28, Stoliarenko is a submission specialist that has won four fights in a row, all by armbar. This will be Stoliarenko’s Invicta FC debut.

Of note, Invicta and the Kansas Athletic Commission will be implementing open scoring for this event, meaning fighters and fans alike will hear the judges’ scores after each round, allowing fighters to make in-fight strategic adjustments based on the score.

Invicta Phoenix Series 3 fight card

  • Lisa Verzosa vs. Julija Stoliarenko (for the vacant bantamweight title)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament final)
  • Kay Hansen vs. Liana Pirosin (strawweight)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament semifinal)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament semifinal)
  • Mitzi Merry vs. Morgan Hickam (bantamweight tournament reserve bout)
  • Kelly Clayton vs. Florina Moeller (bantamweight tournament reserve bout)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament quarterfinal)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament quarterfinal)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament quarterfinal)
  • TBD vs. TBD (bantamweight tournament quarterfinal)

Invicta FC 39 will take place on Friday, March 6 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. It will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 8:00 PM ET.

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