That MMA Show

Invicta FC 39 preview: D’Angelo vs. Zappitella

Forget “Cowboy” vs. McGregor. Forget Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes. The real “money fight” for the first quarter of 2020 is Kelly D’Angelo vs. Alesha Zappitella.

The Invicta FC 39 headliner of Jihn Yu Frey vs. Ashley Cummins is a dandy, but D’Angelo-Zappitella is the card’s true must-see spectacular because it features a pair of the sport’s most marketable, charismatic young superstars — who happen to be reaching their peak at the same time.

The 32-year-old D’Angelo has looked like a completely different fighter from her Invicta FC debut in 2017, having knocked off top contenders Jillian DeCoursey and Lindsey VanZandt in her last two starts.

“Wildfire” proved in her most recent fight that she’s a lot more than just a local fighter to slap on a Kansas City card. D’Angelo proved she’s a high-level striker with serious takedown and submission defense, as she picked up a decision win over a very game DeCoursey. Beating VanZandt, a Bellator and Rizin vet, was another major eye-opener.

With those two big wins in her back pocket, D’Angelo will be a legitimate threat to whoever holds Invicta’s atomweight title if she gets past Zappitella. Crowd noise could be the X-factor, being that the Missouri native will enjoy significant support from the fans. Sharing the card with fellow St. Louis fighter Ashley Cummins doesn’t hurt, as thousands are expected to make the three-hour drive hour over.

Obviously the fans can’t save D’Angelo from getting punched and kicked in the head, but some fighters thrive on crowd support. Time will tell how much of an impact the crowd will have.

As for Zappitella, a two-fight losing skid hasn’t hurt her momentum or damaged her star power at all. “Half Pint” showed serious heart and toughness in her loss to UFC vet Viviane Pereia in her last Invicta outing, and her most recent loss was viewed by fans as a “hometown decision” for her Japanese opponent in a Rizin fight in Japan. Many thought “Half Pint” should have been declared the true winner in Japan.

With the Michigan icon hungry for her first official win in over a year, this is going to be a very intriguing match to watch.

How will D’Angelo vs. Zappitella play out? No one can say for sure until the cage door locks, but it’s a safe bet to say we’ll see fireworks, tactical coaching and a strong likelihood for a three-round war. Both ladies are hard to finish, and neither is afraid to go the distance. Most D’Angelo and Zappitella fights go to the judges’ scorecards. It’s going to come down to who does a better job implementing their game plan.

The 24-year-old Zappitella is an Olympic-caliber wrestler. She has the advantage in the wrestling department, but she showed against Pereia that she’s okay with standing and banging for three rounds. It’s no secret that “Half Pint” will look to take the fight to the mat. However, she has serious striking power and the ability to knock people out with one punch.

D’Angelo is a gritty, well-rounded veteran, so she should be up to the task of handling whatever Zappitella throws at her. Whoever wins could be next in line for a shot at Invicta FC’s 105-pound title. D’Angelo vs. Zappitella is set for Feb. 7 in Kansas City, Kan.

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