Friday night, the biggest women's MMA weekend in history kicks off in Los Angeles with Invicta 11. Live on Fight Pass, the card is a stacked deck with one of the best females in combat sports history in the headliner, as well as contenders and prospects scattered throughout.
Cris "Cyborg" Justino defends her Invicta Featherweight Championship against Charmaine Tweet. It's a bout in which not only the belt is being defended, but speculation runs wild about a potential Ronda Rousey showdown.
With that, let's make some last-minute predictions for the Invicta 11 card.
Cris "Cyborg" Justino vs. Charmaine Tweet
The featherweight bout should be an interesting one. While it's basically unanimous that Justino will retain her belt in vicious fashion, Tweet is not somebody to count out.
Despite Tweet's not-so-sexy win percentage, she has won five out of her last six bouts, with her only loss coming to another top featherweight in Julia Budd. All of those wins come by finish as well, including the majority of them by submission.
That would be her best opportunity for victory. However, despite how good her ground game is and how physically imposing she can be, Justino has a good ground game herself and is probably the most physically imposing fighter in women's MMA.
On the feet, this is no contest. Cyborg has incredible muay thai and power, especially from the clinch where she destroys opponents with huge knees and punches.
This is pretty simple to pick. Tweet is the right opponent at this point, but Cyborg is in a class of her own.
Prediction: Justino def. Tweet via KO.
Mizuki Inoue vs. Alexa Grasso
Two of the youngest and brightest prospects in all of WMMA are on display in the co-main event. Both Alexa Grasso and Mizuki Inoue have an extremely promising future and should give us a glimpse of two up-and-coming contenders here.
Grasso is a striker with an undefeated record. She is a brutal knockout artist, possessing good power, technique and movement. Her ground game is a little bit of a question mark at this point, but if she can keep it upright, she can beat anybody.
It's especially impressive that it took her less than two minutes to put Alida Gray's lights out, a fighter who challenged Jessica Aguilar for her WSOF belt.
Inoue has been in the spotlight a longer time, despite not even being 21 years old (Inoue is 20, Grasso is 21). Inoue is a well-rounded fighter who has fought some tough competition, including Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Bec Rawlings, Ayaka Hamasaki and Alex Chambers.
This is a tough matchup to call. I think that Inoue's established clinch and ground game are the key factors in this bout, and Grasso will learn a lot in taking what should be a fun fight.
Prediction: Inoue def. Grasso via unanimous decision.
DeAnna Bennett vs. Norma Center
DeAnna Bennett was on the fast track to a flyweight title shot, but she now drops to strawweight in the hopes to not only score a UFC bid but a shot at the Invicta title. She meets a tough prospect in Norma Center, who should give her all she can handle.
Bennett has had success at both 135 and 125 pounds. Instead of being complacent, she goes to a division where her size won't be a detriment anymore, as she is a shorter fighter with good range despite that discrepancy.
Center takes this bout on short notice, but the last time she did that for Invicta she gave Joanne Calderwood a hell of a fight. She is more of a ground fighter, though I find it hard to believe she will be able to wrestle down Bennett, a good wrestler in her own right.
Bennett's striking is the difference, as displayed in her bout with Michelle Ould. Center is tough and can hang, so she will surprise many with her grit and determination.
Prediction: Bennett def. Center via unanimous decision.
Irene Aldana vs. Colleen Schneider
The second top Mexican prospect on this show, Irene Aldana has star potential and a cult following that adores her power and prowess. Her aspirations for the UFC will take center stage when she goes up against a TUF 18 veteran in the form of Colleen Schneider.
Outside of a blemish against UFC fighter Larissa Pacheco, Aldana has been a terror to opponents with her powerful, aggressive brand of striking. She has knockout power for days, mixing in strong knees and kicks to compliment her dynamite punches.
She will have to be wary of the takedown, though, as her ground game, like that of her teammate Grasso, is also a bit of a question mark. Schneider trains with Josh Barnett and has a strong wrestling game, which transitions to a heavy top game on the ground.
Schneider will be at the disadvantage of a size discrepancy, which, mixed with the fact that Aldana will make her uncomfortable from the opening bell, will be a hard mountain to climb. Aldana pushes the pace and lands strikes, eventually earning the victory in vicious fashion.
Prediction: Aldana def. Schneider via TKO.
Full Card Predictions
145: Cris Justino def. Charmaine Tweet via KO
115: Mizuki Inoue def. Alexa Grasso via unanimous decision
115: DeAnna Bennett def. Norma Center via unanimous decision
135: Irene Aldana def. Colleen Schneider via TKO
115: Jamie Moyle def. JJ Aldrich via unanimous decision
115: Brianna van Buren def. Amy Montenegro via unanimous decision
125: Christine Stanley def. Laura Salazar via unanimous decision
125: Aspen Ladd def. Ana Carolina Vidal via unanimous decision