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Montserrat Ruiz waited 18 months to return from injury, but a win like the one she had Thursday night proved to be well worth the wait.
The Kings MMA competitor from Los Angeles by way of Mexico headlined an Invicta show for the first time and made it count, with an impressive first-round finish of former strawweight title challenger Janaisa Morandin in the main event of Invicta FC 41 at the Police Athletic League in Kansas City, Kansas.
“I don’t care what they say, I’m back,” Ruiz said through an interpreter.
Both competitors came out gunslinging. Morandin (10-4) scored with knees in the clinch, but that only seemed to rile Ruiz (9-1) up. She moved forward and backed Morandin to the fence with a flurry of hard-charging power shots, then grabbed a headlock and bulldogged Morandin to the mat.
Ruiz maintained the headlock with her right hand, and isolated Morandin’s arm with her legs while raining punches down with her left hand. Eventually, that led to the opening for Ruiz to squeeze the arm with her legs and earn the key lock tapout from that position at the 3:28 mark.
Ruiz rebounded from her first career loss with her fifth career finish. Morandin lost her third straight fight, all via finish.
The evening’s co-feature bout turned into a showcase for rising young flyweight Erin Blanchfield.
The 21-year old out of New York’s Renzo Gracie academy dominated Brogan Sanchez in all aspects of the fight en route to a 30-26 across the board unanimous decision victory.
Blanchfield (6-1 MMA) took some time finding her stride in the opening round, but by the time she hit a takedown with about a minute left, she had things well under control. In the second, Blanchfield’s high-level grappling took center stage, as she worked in side control, nearly getting a key lock at one point, and then delivering elbows in the late seconds until the final horn.
Thanks to Invicta’s open scoring system, we knew Blanchfield was up 20-18 on all scorecards entering the final round, but she never took her foot off the gas pedal, earning 10-8 scores after nearly finishing Sanchez (6-2) toward round’s end.
“I do want the finish but she was super tough,” Blanchfield said. “Three-round fights show all your skill sets, striking and grappling and ground and pound, and I think I showed it all off.”
Blanchfield won her third straight fight and is 4-1 in Invicta. Sanchez has dropped two in a row.
Complete Invicta FC 41 results:
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