Kanako Murata crowned Invicta FC strawweight champion
Invicta FC 38 took place on November 1 at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City with a seven fight lineup that had the judges busy all night long. In the main event Kanako Murata captured the vacant strawweight championship, beating Emily Ducote in a tightly contested affair.
The action kicked off quickly in the opening frame with both fighters landing on the feet with a combination of punches. Kanako initiated the clinch and dragged Ducote to the canvas but she was able to pop back up and get separation.
Always persistent, Kanako got the fight back to the mat and controlled with hard ground and pound. While absorbing ground and pound, Ducote did attempt two technically sound armbar submissions yet her Japanese foe stayed composed and stayed out of any danger.
All cylinders firing
This sequence of exchanges continued into the next round and it was clear that Kanako was up on the scorecards. With her back against the wall, Ducote came out all cylinders firing to start the third.
Settling in the center of the cage, she used range well to kick to the legs and connect with short punches. Kanako did fire back with right hooks early on yet it was a timely takedown at around the one minute mark that likely captured the judges’ eyes.
During the championship rounds Ducote showed her experience. While Kanako seemingly tiring the American did a better job stuffing takedown attempts and continued to connect with a variety of strikes.
Whenever she did end up on her back, Ducote stayed active with elbows and armbar attempts that kept Kanako honest. Never letting her opponent relax had taken a toll and allowed her to used more of her arsenal throughout the final two rounds.
After twenty five minutes, the judges awarded the split decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) victory to Kanako Murata.
Besides Ayaka Hamasaki, Kanako is the only other Japanese athlete to have had the Invicta strap wrapped around her waist. She elevates her record to 11-1 and extends her streak to seven straight. Ducote, meanwhile, drops to 8-6 and fails at her second attempt to win a title for a major promotion.
With this title fight being so evenly matched, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a rematch between these two top female strawweights will take place in the near future.
The co-main event was a three round war to be remembered with Vanessa Porto and Karina Rodriguez brutalizing each other. Yet it was Porto who landed the more powerful strikes and mixed in takedowns to get the unanimous decision in the end.
Porto (22-8), the reigning flyweight champion, was originally scheduled to defend her title against Rodriguez (8-4) but the challenger came in 1.1 pounds over the limit. Needless to say, there will be no rematch necessary anytime soon.