Battle-tested veteran Nicdali Calanoc-Rivera (7-6) of Tulsa, Okla. will replace Kikuyo Ishikawa in an atomweight (105 pounds) preliminary card matchup against Angelica Chavez (4-1) at the Invicta Fighting Championships 2: Baszler vs. McMann all-women’s professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. on Sat., July 28.
Ishikawa withdrew from the bout due to an undisclosed reason.
“I think it’s a great matchup. Styles make fights and our two styles match up well for an exciting fight,” said the 27-year-old Calanoc-Rivera, who is trained by her husband, retired MMA fighter and kickboxer, Travis “The Dark Knight” Calanoc.
“He’s been with me since day one,” said Calanoc-Rivera of her husband, a former U.S. Marine, whom she said laughed after she had initially approached him about becoming an MMA fighter. After all, she had no previous experience in contact sports.
Determined to prove she could handle a drastic career change, Calanoc-Rivera put herself through her husband’s boot camp training, doing everything from six-mile runs in 100 degree weather to sparring with Calanoc and getting KO’d.
“I stood up after the KO and he asked me again if I really wanted to fight and I told him ‘Yes,” said Calanoc-Rivera, who trained for two years before making her debut in MMA competition. “I’ve always been attracted to pushing my body to its limits. I like seeing the results.”
To strengthen the quality of her training camp for fights, Calanoc-Rivera often brings in superstar Miesha Tate, a seasoned wrestler who has helped Calanoc-Rivera add ground fighting skills to her kickboxing base in order to become a more complete MMA fighter.
Calanoc-Rivera’s start will be her second for Invicta FC. She competed at the promotion’s historic, inaugural event on April 28, losing by submission (kimura) in the second round (3:47) of a matchup with Amy Davis.
The 25-year-old Chavez also comes from a household immersed in the martial arts world. Her father, Melcor, is a Grandmaster of Kajukembo Karate, a Hawaiian style of combat that combines traditional Japanese Karate, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Chinese Kenpo and western boxing. The hybrid discipline has been dubbed “The art from the streets, for the streets.”
“Having my father as my head coach and cornerman is an awesome experience,” said Chavez, who holds a fifth degree black belt in Kajukembo. “I grew up watching him train champions, so the dojo was my playground. It was only a matter of time before I started competing.”
Chavez made a splash debut in the cage on Feb. 20, 2009, submitting Stephanie Palmer with a keylock in the second round (1:37) of their matchup in Albuquerque. Over the course of the next two years, Chavez reeled off three more consecutive victories, all by way of first round submission.
On Aug. 13, 2011, Chavez suffered the first defeat of her career, losing a split decision to Diana Rael. Her start on July 28 will be Chavez’s first since the loss and, like Calanoc-Rivera, she is hungry to get back into the win column.
“Nicdali always brings it to a fight, so it’s going to be a tough and exciting battle for me,” said Chavez. “I’ll be well-prepared and ready to fight at my best.”
Tickets for Invicta FC 2: Baszler vs. McMann, priced from $25, are available for purchase at Memorial Hall box office (913) 549-4853), online at Ticketmaster.com and InvictaFC.com and by phone at (800) 745-3000.
In the bantamweight (135 pounds) main event, 2004 Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist and undefeated MMA star Sara McMann (5-0) of Gaffney, SC. and battle-tested submission wizard Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-6) of Sioux Falls, SD.
In the co-main event, Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano (18-9) of Tokyo, Japan will square off with Japanese Jiu-Jitsu black belt and Cesar Gracie-protégé Alexis Davis (11-5) of Colborne, Ontario Canada at bantamweight.
In other main card action, U.S. Marine and rising bantamweight star Liz “Girl-rilla” Carmouche (6-2) of San Diego, Calif. will square off with St. Louis Park, Minnesota’s Kaitlin Young (7-5-1), who earned “Fight of the Night” honors at the inaugural Invicta event on April 28.
JEWELS champion Akaya Hamasaki (7-0) of Yamaguchi, Japan will head to Kansas City, Kan. to square off with fellow undefeated star Jasminka “Impressive” Cive (5-0) of Graz, Styria Austria in a flyweight (115 pounds) matchup
Hard-hitting KO artist Amanda Nunes (6-2) of Salvador, Bahia Brazil will make her Invicta debut against sensational finisher Milana Dudieva (8-1) of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia Russia in a bantamweight battle.
Kelly Kobold (18-3-1) of St. Paul, Minn. will face off with streaking submission expert Vanessa Porto (14-4) of Sao Paulo, Brazil at bantamweight.
American prospects Barb “Little Warrior” Honchak (5-2) of East Moline, Ill. and undefeated Bethany Marshall (4-0) of Newport News, Va. will meet in a super flyweight (125 pounds) matchup.
Julia “The Jewel” Budd (2-2) of Port Moody, British Columbia Canada will face Elina Nilsson (2-2) of Gothenburg, Sweden at featherweight (145 pounds).
In the opening main card bout, Jiu-Jitsu champion and former high school wrestling star Carla Esparza (6-2) of Redondo Beach, Calif. will square off with Sarah “White Tiger” Schneider (6-5) of Kansas City, Mo. in a flyweight tilt.
The Invicta event will kick off with a five-bout preliminary card. In a bantamweight matchup between two undefeated future stars, Sarah Moras (2-0) of Kelowna, British Columbia Canada will face Raquel Pennington (1-0) of Colorado Springs, Colo.
After compiling a 5-2 record under amateur status, 25-year-old Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke (0-0) will make her much-anticipated professional debut against unbeaten 30-year-old Suzie Montero (1-0) of Pompano Beach, Fla. at bantamweight.
One-half of the 26-year-old twin MMA fighter duo, Jocelyn “Lights Out” Lybarger (0-0) of Phoenix, Ariz. will make debut under professional status opposite Cheryl Chan (0-0) of Surrey, British Columbia Canada at super flyweight.
Jessica Philippus (0-0) of Marshall, Mo. will battle Liz McCarthy (0-0) of Tigard, Ore. at atomweight.
All bouts have been approved by the Kansas State Athletic Commission.