Invicta Fighting Championships will start the New Year with a highly anticipated atomweight title rematch.
Current champion Alesha "Half Pint" Zappitella (9-2, 1 NC) will put her 105-pound belt on the line against Brazilian challenger Jéssica Delboni (11-3). The pair met on the promotion's debut on AXS TV in May, with the American Zappitella retaining her title after a closely contested five-round battle. Delboni quickly rebounded from the split-decision loss, winning three fights in one night to capture the Phoenix Tournament: Atomweights crown and re-establishing herself as the No. 1 contender.
Invicta FC 45: Zappitella vs. Delboni 2 will be the first event on Invicta FC's new night of Wednesday for 2022, taking place Jan. 12 in Kansas City. Broadcast information will be announced in the coming weeks.
Invicta President Shannon Knapp explained, "We are always looking for new ways to showcase our athletes and having events on Wednesdays will put the spotlight directly on them. The rematch between Zappitella and Delboni is a perfect way to kick off the action on our new night."
In the co-main event, Colorado’s “Grizzly” Claire Guthrie (3-1) collides with Lauren "Princess Tiger" Mueller (5-4) in a bantamweight match-up. Guthrie will compete under the Invicta banner for the fifth time, with Mueller returning after her thrilling promotional debut at Invicta FC 44.
Also on the card, featherweight Courtney "The Lion" King (4-2) competes for the first time since her headlining clash with two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison at Invicta FC 43. King will take on Hong Kong native Ramona Pascual (5-2), who currently rides a three-fight winning streak.
Rounding out the fight card, Hawaiian "Fearless" Monica Franco (2-0) welcomes "All Hail" Hailey Cowan (5-2) to the Invicta cage in a 135-pound affair, strawweight veterans Hilarie Rose (5-3) and Emily "Spitfire" Whitmire (4-5) aim to infuse fresh contenders into the 115-pound division, and Mexico's Maria Favela (2-1) moves up to bantamweight against a to-be-announced opponent.
The event will be overseen by the Kansas Athletic Commission and will feature open scoring. With the ongoing pandemic, the fights will take place behind closed doors — sans fans and media. As with any Invicta event, the safety of its athletes, their corners, its staff and commission officials is of the utmost priority. All participants will be tested for COVID-19 prior to the event.
The full fight card can be found below:
Atomweight Title: Alesha Zappitella vs. Jéssica Delboni Bantamweight: Claire Guthrie vs. Lauren Mueller Featherweight: Courtney King vs. Morgan Frier Bantamweight: Monica Franco vs. Hailey Cowan Strawweight: Hilarie Rose vs. Emily Whitmire Bantamweight: Maria Favela vs. TBA