Vanessa Porto Captures Invicta Flyweight Title After Errant Eye Poke from Pearl Gonzalez

By Mike Sloan Feb 15, 2019


The Invicta Fighting Championships flyweight title that was left open last July when Jennifer Maia bolted for the Ultimate Fighting Championship is vacant no more.

A former two-time title challenger for the promotion, Vanessa Porto finally cashed in and captured the title in the main event of Invicta 34 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday night. The Brazilian was masterful against Pearl Gonzalez, but her triumph was anticlimactic.

Porto picked “The Chi-Town Princess” apart on the feet with sizzling leg kicks and timely punching upstairs, and whenever she took the Illinois native down, Porto (21-8) dominated her. Gonzalez never folded under the intense pressure from the Brazilian but was a step behind of her from the start both in terms of striking and takedowns. However, an errant eye poke from Gonzalez (9-4) in the fourth ended the fracas when the cageside physician deemed the damage was too severe.

Since the injury came from an accidental eye poke and not a punch, the fight was sent to the scorecards for a technical decision. The fight ended at 2:34 of the fourth and Porto was awarded a unanimous decision with scores of 40-36 and 39-37 (twice) to capture the Invicta FC flyweight title on her third attempt.

Karina Rodriguez had to dig deeper than ever before to outlast Milana Dudieva in what was a barn-burner from start to finish. Dudieva rocked her opponent in the opening round and dominated her on the ground, but Rodriguez (7-3) stormed back with strikes in the second. Rodriguez thwarted multiple takedown attempts and muddied things up in the clinch, and slowly turned the tides in the process. The two flyweights tore into each other with punches at the end of the second and they fought tooth and nail in the third. In the end, it was the Mexican who prevailed in a fight that could have gone either way. Two judges favored Rodriguez 29-28 while the third had it for Russia’s Dudieva (12-8) with the same tally, winning the second Invicta FC flyweight semifinal bout.

DeAnna Bennett did just enough to outlast Miranda Maverick in the first bout of the Invicta FC flyweight tournament semifinals. “Vitamin D” threatened with a rear-naked choke and a guillotine choke in the first, but the final two rounds of the contest were fought largely in the clinch. Bennett (10-4) was a step ahead of Maverick (4-2) down the stretch and walked away with a unanimous decision win with scores of 29-28 across the board, setting up a No. 1 contender showdown with Rodriguez.

Tracy Cortez prevailed in Invicta FC’s flyweight tournament reserve bout, but it wasn’t easy. The Arizonan was stuck in a deep armbar for quite a long time in the first against Erin Blanchfield (3-1), but eventually escaped. From there, Cortez (5-1) made things nasty in the clinch and punished Blanchfield. The third frame was a back-and-forth toss-up, but two of the judges felt Cortez’s better striking and slightly more aggressive style won the fight. She won via split decision with tallies of 29-28 (twice) and 28-29.

Victoria Leonardo blew through Jamie Milanowski easily in the opening bout of the main card and took her out with a rear-naked choke. “Fury” scored a takedown immediately into the flyweight contest and dished out some terrific ground-and-pound, and when Milanowski climbed back to her feet, her opponent landed several clean strikes. Leonardo (3-1) took her opponent down again, seized her back and forced Milanowski (2-3) to tap out at the 2:45 mark of the first.

Featherweight prospect Courtney King was dominant against Holli Logan, scoring a second-round submission with only a few seconds remaining. “The Lion” took Logan (1-1-1) down halfway through the second, threatened with a D’Arce choke and then transitioned to a rear-naked choke. “The Huntress” couldn’t escape and at the 4:46 mark of the frame, bowed out, giving King (2-1) her first Invicta FC win.

After a solid amateur career, flyweight Caitlin Sammons was triumphant in her pro debut. “Ginger” was off to a slow start against Christina Ricker (1-2) in what was the first bout of the card, but Sammons eventually found her footing and dominated her foe until the end. Sammons (1-0) hurt “Roadhouse” with a kick to the belly and pounced when Ricker turtled up. From there, Sammons kept throwing punches from behind until referee Nick Berens intervened. The end came officially at 3:02 of the second.

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