Photo Credit- Ester Lin/Invicta FC
There was a big controversy a few weeks ago in Kansas City when Tonya Evinger lost her bantamweight championship belt to Yana Kunitskaya. Evinger lost her belt via first round armbar. The elbow was locked in and Kunitskaya was cranking for dear life so Evinger went to an old trick, step on her face.
The unified rules of mixed martial arts do prohibit soccer kicks and knees to the head of a grounded opponent, nowhere does it state that pushing off an opponent’s head with the knee or foot is banned. Evinger had previously implemented this tactic in her Invicta FC debut against Sarah D’Alelio; she was not penalized nor even warned for the move. Referee Mike England warned Evinger to not step on Kunitskaya’s face, she did not comply. He repeatedly ordered her to stop and as she stepped off Kunitskaya’s face, the attacking challenger grasped tightly, shifted her hips forward, and got the tap immediately thereafter. It was a shocking site to behold the relatively unknown Russian get a first round finish over a consensus top ten bantamweight in Tonya Evinger.
The immediate reaction felt almost like a passing of the torch, but after Invicta commentators TJ De Santos and Julie Kedzie clarified what had occurred and reviewing the replay the situation felt unfortunate. An immediate rematch seemed the most likely outcome and now it seems it will come to fruition.
Invicta Fighting Championships president Shannon Knapp confirmed that the rematch will happen and perhaps sooner rather than later. Invicta FC 21 takes place in January back in Kansas City and although Megan Anderson and Charmaine Tweet are set to headline that event, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to plug Evinger and Kunitskaya as the new main event as Invicta is notorious for last minute fight announcements and neither Evinger or Kunitskaya took any significant damage in their short bout.
Unfortunate as the circumstances may seem, the bizarre result has at the very least added some intrigue to the rematch. Whether aided by the referee or not, Kunitskaya did clamp on a tight armbar on a grappling savvy veteran. We also know that Evinger is tough as a coffin nail and has a relentless pace. She is much more intelligent than she was in the past and another submission defeat seems unlikely, but perhaps Kunitskaya really is that good and can make lightning strike twice. If Invicta FC 21 is too soon, Invicta FC 22 will be around the corner two or three months later, barring any unforeseen circumstances the fight should be set relatively soon.