After anticipating over a year to seek revenge, (8-3) Karina Rodriguez defeated (10-5-1) DeAnna Bennett via unanimous decision in the flyweight tournament finale on Friday, headlined as the main event of Invicta FC 35 at Memorial Hall.
“I’m very happy and I want to give thanks to DeAnna Bennett because of her style of fighting and her pressure made me train harder,” Rodríguez said, “in areas that I didn’t like to work on because I didn’t feel comfortable in those areas. So, I’m always thankful for the rivalries that make us fighters push ourselves.”
Bennett won the first meeting by split decision back in March 2018. The Utah resident missed weight at 127.9 pounds, passing the flyweight 126-pound limit.
“When I first fought her [Rodriguez], I had only worked with my strength and conditioning coach for less than a month,” Bennett said. “I’ve been working with him for over a year now, making myself more athletic. I don’t ever want weight to be an issue.”
Before the ceremonial weigh-ins, Bennett’s rival said she felt her shots due to her weight, but she’s glad that Bennett was able to make weight and it was a fair fight.
Bennett made weight at 125.3 pounds and her opponent weighed in at 125.4 pounds.
“I felt more confident because I knew I would be able to defend her takedowns. We worked a lot on that,” Rodriguez said. “So, I came in with confidence in my boxing and it was noticed in the fight. My stand-up game was better than the first fight, and my footwork in the cage was better as well.”
Bennett constantly shot for takedowns, but Rodriguez kept her away with her stiff jab. In the second round, “The Argentine Assassin” maintained control by pinning Rodriguez on the cage and landed a couple of body kicks.
Eventually, the fight became stalemate for Bennett. She couldn’t take Rodriguez down as she prevented takedowns with her heels hooked onto Bennett’s feet.
Rodriguez will take on the current Invicta FC flyweight champion (20-8) Vanessa Porto. The Brazilian has a background in boxing, she became the amateur boxing state champion of Sao Paulo in 2011.
“She has a lot of experience and she’s very strong. We need to work very hard to bring that flyweight belt to Mexico,” Rodriguez said. “She’s dangerous in all aspects, she’s a complete fighter – good at Muay Thai and a great striker, her strikes are very powerful.”