Invicta FC will crown a new No. 1 contender in the atomweight division with the upcoming Phoenix Tournament on June 11 and fans will now have the chance to determine the opening round matchups.
Promotion officials confirmed to MMA Fighting that fans will serve as the matchmakers for the first round fights on Friday’s card with an online voting system set up with all eight fighters entered into the tournament.
In previous Phoenix Tournaments, Invicta FC used a random draw to determine the quarterfinal fights but this time around the fans will make that decision ahead of the event.
“Invicta continues to innovate with the introduction of a fan-matchmaking element for our next Phoenix Tournament,” Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp said in a statement. “Playing fantasy matchmaker is a big part of MMA fandom, and we’re giving fans the chance to weigh-in on the opening round of a one-night tournament that will crown the new No.1 Invicta atomweight contender.
“The Phoenix Tournament format itself is perhaps the biggest MMA innovation in years: the return of single-night tournaments, open scoring, 5-minute fights in the quarters and semis before the two finalists meet in a three rounder. It is a unique format and having fans vote on the initial bracketing is just another wrinkle to what we feel is the most exciting format in combat sports.”
Fan voting for the card will begin via the Invicta FC website on June 7 with the cutoff coming one hour prior to the ceremonial weigh-ins on June 10. The athletes will then be informed of their first round matchups at the weigh-ins with the fights taking place one night later.
“As with previous Phoenix events, whichever athlete scores the fastest finish in the quarterfinals will get to decide who she faces in the semi-final (the other two athletes will, naturally, be paired up against each other). If there are no stoppages in the quarterfinals, a random draw will decide which winners face off in the semis.”
The eight participants in the atomweight tournament include:
Delboni will be making a quick turnaround after she just fought to a razor-close split decision with reigning Invicta atomweight champion Alesha Zappitella on May 21.
“We felt we won the fight 4-1 in rounds but knew the judges were seeing something different due to the open scoring,” Delboni said. “Going into the last round the judges had it two rounds to me, two to Zappitella. We felt I won that fifth round, too, but the judges gave it to her. I was shocked but because we already knew the scores were closer than we felt the fight was.
“I won the Invicta title fight. If I had to beat three opponents in one night to make sure I get the next shot – that’s what I will do. The Phoenix Tournament is a special challenge, but we feel my style – pressure and pace – is perfectly suited to it.”
The Invicta FC card featuring the Phoenix Tournament will air on AXS TV in the United States, the Fight Network in Canada as well as Invicta FC’s official YouTube page on Friday