This weekend is one of the rare ones that does not feature a UFC event. However, there are still eight top-ten fighters in action across three different events: Invicta FC 16, World Series of Fighting 29 and Pancrase 276.
Invicta FC 16
#1 Atomweight Ayaka Hamasaki vs. #7 Atomweight Amber Brown
On Friday night, live on UFC Fight Pass, Hamasaki will defend her Invicta FC atomweight title against Brown. Hamasaki won the belt in her last outing with a split-decision victory over veteran Herica Tiburcio. She is currently riding a three-fight winning streak also including wins over Naho Sugiyama and Mei Yamaguchi under the Deep banner. Hamasaki’s lone career defeat came against Claudia Gadelha at Invicta FC 6.
Brown fights out of the Albuquerque-based FIT NHB team. She has won four straight bouts since suffering her only defeat against Emi Fujino at Pancrase 247. In her last fight, Brown submitted Shino VanHoose at Invicta FC 15.
#9 Strawweight DeAnna Bennett vs. #3 Flyweight Roxanne Modafferi
Bennett began her run in Invicta as a flyweight. However, she recently dropped down to 115 pounds. On the promotion’s last show, she challenged Livia Renata Souza for the promotion’s title but failed to make it out of the first round. The 31-year-old is 8-1 and holds victories over Katja Kankaanpää, Colleen Schneider and Julianna Peña.
Modafferi is a long time veteran of the sport who made her debut back in 2003. She challenged Sarah Kaufman for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight title in 2010. Modafferi was also a competitor on the 18th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Since falling at the TUF 18 finale, she has cut back down to flyweight and once again experienced success. Modafferi has gone 3-1 since the change with her only defeat coming against Vanessa Porto last April
#2 Atomweight Herica Tiburcio vs. Jinh Yu Frey
At only 21 years old, Tiburcio upset Michelle Waterson to claim the Invicta FC atomweight title. However, in her first title defense, she dropped the belt to Hamasaki who is headlining this event. She holds a 9-3 record. Until joining Invicta FC in 2014, she had fought exclusively in her native Brazil.
Frey burst onto the scene in 2013 when her knockout of Darla Harris went viral inside MMA circles. She signed with Invicta FC the following year. After dropping her promotional debut, Frey returned with back-to-back wins over Cassie Robb and Liz McCarthy.
World Series of Fighting 29
#10 Lightweight Justin Gaethje vs. #26 Lightweight Brian Foster
WSOF 29 airs live on NBC Sports Network on Saturday night. Lightweight champion Gaethje will defend his title against one-night tournament champion Foster. Gaethje won the title when he defeated Richard Patishnock at WSOF 8. He has since defended the belt over Nick Newell and Luis Palomino (twice).
Foster actually lost in the first round of WSOF’s one-night eight-man lightweight tournament to Joao Zeferino. However, due to injuries, he returned to bracket and defeated Palomino to earn a spot in the finals. There, he scored a second round knockout in a rematch with Zeferino and earned a title shot.
#8 Strawweight Daichi Kitakata vs. #9 Strawweight Shinya Murofushi
The strawweight division is one of the least developed divisions in MMA. Only one major level promotion, One Championship, sponsors a champion at the weight. The #1 ranked strawweight Mitsuhisa Sunabe currently holds the 115-pound King of Pancrase title, so the winner of this bout might be in line for the next title shot. Pancrase 276 will air live early Sunday morning on UFC Fight Pass.
Kitakata was an over 100 ranked flyweight before making the drop down to 115-pounds last 2014. After a pair of no contests, he scored a unanimous-decision victory over Tetsuo Ishitsuna last December. His overall record stands at 13-7-1.
Murofushi will fight for the second time under the Pancrase banner after earning his stripes in Shooto. In 2006, he won the flyweight Shooto Rookie championship. Eight years later, he defeated Junji Ito to win the Shooto 115-pound world title. However, in his next fight, Murofushi dropped the belt to Yoshitaka Naito. In his Pancrase debut, the Submit MMA product defeated Takuya Eizumi.