In 2019, Invicta FC unveiled a new style of show called the “Phoenix Series.” The concept is a one-night tournament, allowing fighters to compete three times in one evening. Eight bantamweights start the evening, with a winner being found after three fights.
The first two fights are one round competitions, with the final fight being a three round battle. So, going all the way in the tournament would be the same length as competing in a championship fight.
Alongside the tournament, undefeated Lisa Verzosa and Julija Stoliarenko will battle for the vacant bantamweight championship.
The show has an added level of interest to it, as the Kansas state boxing commission will be testing open scoring. In-between rounds of multiple-round fights, people will be told who the judges have voted for. This caught the attention of UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway, who will be in attendance for the event.
Live from the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, USA, here’s a full preview of Invicta Phoenix Series 3.
Main Card (8:00PM EST / UFC Fight Pass)
NOTE: The first four fights are not necessarily in the order they will happen
Bout 1: Serena DeJesus (1-1) vs. Kerri Kenneson (3-2) (Bantamweight Tournament Quarter-Final)
The first round of the Phoenix Series was done from a random draw, which happened at the ceremonial weigh-ins on Thursday evening. The first of four matchups was between Serena DeJesus and Kerri Kenneson. DeJesus debuted in Invicta in November losing to Taneisha Tennant, who is also in this tournament. Kenneson has more fights, however she is currently trying to snap a two-fight losing streak that she has gotten in Invicta.
Bout 2: Taylor Guardado (0-0) vs. Claire Guthrie (1-0) (Bantamweight Tournament Quarter-Final)
The second fight will see Taylor Guardado make her professional debut against Claire Guthrie. In a story reported by MMAJunkie, it’s told that Guardado is returning after finishing up her amateur career eight years ago. Guthrie made her debut as a pro in October, putting an armbar on Jordan Kaaze in the third round to end the fight.
Bout 3: Hope Chase (2-1) vs. Julia Ottolino (1-0) (Bantamweight Tournament Quarter-Final)
Both coming off of their first wins in Invicta, Hope Chase and Julia Ottolino face off in the quarter-finals of the bantamweight tournament. Chase got a first round rear naked choke against Megan Cawley. Ottolino’s Invicta fight, which was also her professional debut, was against Cawley as well.
Bout 4: Brittney Victoria (3-1) vs. Taneisha Tennant (2-0) (Bantamweight Tournament Quarter-Final)
The final two names put together in the tournament were Brittney Victoria and Taneisha Tennant. Victoria has fought twice in Invicta, going 1-1. She got a decision win over Sarah Kleczka, and more recently lost due to punches from Chelsea Chandler. Tennant has fought twice as a pro, with the most recent fight being the aforementioned win over Serena DeJesus.
Bout 5: Kelly Clayton (1-2) vs. Florina Moeller (1-1) (Bantamweight Tournament Reserve Fight)
The first of two reserve fights will be between Kelly Clayton and Florina Moeller. Just like the normal first round fights, this is scheduled for one round. Both fighters will be making their Invicta debut. Moeller is coming off of a decisio loss. Before then, she had a stoppage win in Shamrock FC. Clayton lost her first two pro fights, but bounced back in August with a second round stoppage victory. Moeller is replacing Serena DeJesus, who got put in the actual bracket for the tournament after Gillian Noll withdrew.
Bout 6: Mitzi Merry (2-1) vs. Morgan Hickam (1-2) (Bantamweight Tournament Reserve Fight)
The other reserve fight is Mitzi Merry facing Morgan Hickam. Merry had her first Invicta fight in November, losing a decision to Chelsea Chandler. Before that, she had two stoppage wins. Hickam has fought her whole three-fight career in promotion Valor Fighting Challenge, winning her most recent competition via split decision.
Bout 7: Bantamweight Tournament Semi-Final #1
Bout 8: Bantamweight Tournament Semi-Final #2
Bout 9: Kay Hansen (5-3) vs. Liana Pirosin (7-3) (Strawweight)
The only non-bantamweight fight of the evening sees Kay Hansen challenge Liana Pirosin. Hansen is quite an experienced Invicta FC fighter, holding a record of 5-3 (including a one-round reserve fight). She is on a two-fight winning streak, finishing Nicolle Caliari most recently with a neck crank in October. Pirosin has more fights under her belt, but less Invicta experience. She debuted with Invicta in 2019, getting finished by now-strawweight champion Kanako Murata via rear naked choke. She looks to rebound from that loss with this fight.
Bout 10: Bantamweight Tournament Final
The final of the bantamweight tournament will be a three-round fight.
Bout 11: Lisa Verzosa (5-0) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (8-3-1) (Vacant Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship)
Finishing off the show, undefeated Lisa Verzosa and Julija Stoliorenko battle to become the fifth Invicta Bantamweight Champion. The previous champion, Sarah Kaufman, vacated the belt to join the UFC. So did the three champions before her. So to say winning this belt puts you on radars would be an understatement.
Verzosa made her debut as a professional in 2018, getting all of her wins via decision in her five fights. She had an extensive amateur career, fighting 10 times from 2014 to 2017.
Stoliarenko’s 14-fight professional career has happened exclusive outside of Invicta FC. She was on season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2018, not making it to the finals. She’s become an arm collector as of late, with all four of her last quadruple fights ending with an armbar.