INVICTA FC 45 Main Event Breakdown: Zappitella vs. Delboni 2

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The holiday recess in MMA is just about over, and after a 24-day pause, fans of the sport finally have some action to look forward to once again.

It all begins again as women’s promotion INVICTA Fighting Championship (INVICTA FC) presents the first MMA card of 2022 this coming Wednesday night, INVICTA FC 45.

INVICTA FC 45 will be the first card for the promotion in 2022, as well as the first card for the promotion to take place on its new fight night.

Also noteworthy for INVICTA FC 45 is the fact that Wednesday night’s show (8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT) will be streamed via a live simulcast on the INVICTA FC YouTube channel and USA Today’s MMA Junkie from Kansas City’s Police Athletic League– and if you’re in Kansas City and were thinking about getting tickets to this show, you won’t be able to.
COVID-19 Safeguards In Place For INVICTA FC 45

Due to concerns over COVID-19, INVICTA FC will not be welcoming ticketed spectators to Wednesday’s card.

In addition, all 12 fighters booked to appear on INVICTA FC 45 and their cornermen will be tested for the coronavirus prior to the show.
Open-Scoring Available For INVICTA FC 45

As INVICTA FC 45 takes place in Kansas, open-scoring rules will be in effect for the Wednesday night show, meaning the fighters, as well as the home audience, will be able to see where a contest stands between rounds.
A Score Is Settled Between Zappitella and Delboni in INVICTA FC 45 Main Event

Barring late postponements, cancellations, or alterations to the card for any reason, INVICTA FC 45 will feature a six-fight card, highlighted by a grudge match for the INVICTA FC Atomweight Championship in the INVICTA FC 45 main event.

Your INVICTA FC 45 main event this Wednesday night will see the continuation of a rivalry at 105 lbs., as incumbent INVICTA FC Atomweight Champion Alesha Zappitella (9-2, 1 NC MMA, 6-2 INVICTA) will meet challenger Jessica Delboni (11-3 MMA, 4-2 INVICTA FC {not counting her quarterfinal and semifinal wins ahead of the Phoenix Series final last June}).
INVICTA FC 45 Main Event Fighter Comparison

Heading into the INVICTA FC 45 main event this Wednesday night, challenger Jessica Delboni is the taller gladiator, standing 5-foot-1, compared to champion Alesha Zappitella’s 4-foot-11 frame.

In addition, Jessica Delboni owns a two-inch reach over Alesha Zappitella (62 inches to 60 inches) entering the INVICTA FC 45 main event on Wednesday.
The Last Meeting

Alesha Zappitella and Jessica Delboni last fought on May 21, 2021, during the co-headlining fight of INVICTA FC’s inaugural card on the AXS TV digital cable channel for the atomweight strap.

After 25 minutes of action, the judges returned a split decision in favor of Zappitella, something which didn’t sit well with Delboni.
Anger of Split Decision Loss Fuels Delboni’s Fire Ahead of INVICTA FC 45 Main Event

Jessica Delboni enters the INVICTA FC 45 main event having gone 3-2 in her last five professional MMA appearances, but it’s the INVICTA on AXS TV co-main event last May that still haunts her nearly eight months later and drives her to get revenge on the champion this week.

“I was sure I had won that fight,” said Delboni in an interview prior to INVICTA FC 45. “There was no doubt in my mind, I had won the fight. When they gave her the win, I was sad, angry, and frustrated. I told my coach I didn’t want to fight anymore. I needed some time off. I wasn’t expecting that result after the tough camp.”

The emotions Delboni felt that spring night was shared by her coach.

“We thought we had won,” she said.

Undeterred, Jessica Delboni returned to fight in the INVICTA FC on AXS TV Phoenix Series atomweight tournament three weeks after her setback, leaving everything in the cage by defeating Tabatha Watkins (unanimous decision) in the quarterfinal and Marisa Messer-Belenchia (unanimous decision) in the semifinal– with both fights being single-round exhibition affairs, as per Phoenix Series rules.

A third unanimous decision for Delboni against Lindsey VanZandt in the final, a three-round affair, pushed her professional record to 11-3 and gave her the chance to settle the score against Zappitella in the INVICTA FC 45 main event this week.
Zappitella Aims to Continue Hot Streak in INVICTA FC 45 Main Event

In the other corner, Alesha Zappitella has posted a 4-1 record in her last five MMA appearances, including an ongoing four-fight winning streak entering the INVICTA FC 45 main event on Wednesday night.

Prior to defeating Jessica Delboni, the champion stopped Ashley Cummins (fourth-round submission due to Von Flue choke) during INVICTA FC 42‘s main event in September of 2020 to win the then-vacant atomweight strap.

Upon successfully defending the 105-lb. championship for the first time, an emotional Alesha Zappitella discussed her successful gameplan as she spoke with UFC stalwart Megan Anderson in her post-fight interview.

“I think that for a majority of the fight, I implemented a lot of what I’ve been working on for this fight camp in planning for my striking,” Zappitella said. “but at the end, it was purely heart, and I proved a lot to myself.”

A big question entering the INVICTA FC 45 main event this coming Wednesday is one of how much has Zappitella improved on her striking and grappling as she heads into the grudge match.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the INVICTA FC 45 main event on Wednesday night looks to favor Jessica Delboni, a black belt in taekwondo and brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to the purple belt in BJJ for Alesha Zappitella.
Watch For Zappitella’s Grappling in INVICTA FC 45 Main Event

Alesha Zappitella, who began her athletic life at the tender age of five years old, has won only twice by submission in her MMA career, but when it’s happened, it can be vicious, as Ashley Cummins found out first hand almost 16 months ago.

In the fourth round of a scheduled five, Zappitella was able to quickly fight off a guillotine choke attempt from Cummins and was then able to abruptly reverse the script and secure a dangerous Von Flue choke and force Cummins to tap out a minute and 20 seconds into the period.

All Alesha Zappitella is going to need to do to stop Jessica Delboni in the INVICTA FC 45 is grappling defense, because if Delboni is unable to advance on a submission attempt, she can create offense on the ground and it’ll be a wrap for her.
Jessica Delboni Can Punch Her Way to Victory in INVICTA FC 45 Main Event

In the other corner, Jessica Delboni’s offensive game plan for the INVICTA FC 45 main event this Wednesday night could be predicated by her fists, as Bruna Brasil found out in the fall of 2017.

During the second round of a three-round fight at strawweight, Delboni took Brasil down and began to pepper her with ground and pound shots from the top mount– establishing control of the fight from there.

More takedowns from Delboni followed, along with more ground and pound and an occasional display of grappling.

Late in the round, Delboni backed Brasil up into the clinch and took her down to the canvas in a heap before scoring with a few punches, ending as Brasil let out an agonized yell as the referee called off the fight at that instant.

If Jessica Delboni can slow down the momentum of Alesha Zappitella with punches, the INVICTA FC 45 main event could turn out in her favor.
Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Wednesday night’s INVICTA FC 45 main event is shaping up to be a classic strength versus strength matchup– and it’ll all depend upon which of the two fighters has the better game plan.

Prediction: Jessica Delboni by Unanimous Decision.