Hard-hitting MMA talent Mara "Kunoichici" Borella (11-4) is set to become the 45th Invicta Fighting Championships athlete to make an appearance inside the world-famous Octagon. The 31-year-old scored a UFC call-up -- for a coveted UFC 216 pay-per-view main card fight against Kalindra Faria -- after Andrea "KGB" Lee was forced off the bill due to a past suspension for diuretics.
Originally, Lee was slated to make her promotional debut against Faria at UFC 216. But after USADA ruled her out, Borella stepped in as a late replacement. Her call-up for UFC 216 is proof that Invicta FC is the top UFC feeder promotion for world-class female athletes.
With 25 events completed in five and a half years, Invicta FC has helped over three dozen fighters accomplish their dreams of fighting for the UFC. The list of UFC fighters with Invicta FC roots is a who's who of elite talent, including Amanda Nunes, Carla Esparza, Paige VanZant, Claudia Gadelha, Rose Namajunas, Michelle Waterson, Cat Zingano, Tecia Torres, Joanne Calderwood and many more.
Borella will be the 45th Invicta FC vet to make an official UFC appearance, but that number is likely going to go way up in the months ahead -- with "TUF 26" set to kick off the UFC's new female flyweight division. Invicta FC vets Barb Honchak, Ariel Beck, Rachael Ostovich, DeAnna Bennett and Sijara Eubanks are all part of the "TUF 26" cast, so it's a strong possibility many of them will be fighting in the UFC before the year is out.
43 Invicta FC vets have already completed official UFC fights. Jodie Esquibel was the 44th Invicta athlete to earn a UFC call-up, as she has been booked to fight Karolina Kowalkiewicz on Oct. 21 in Poland. Borella was the 45th to score a UFC opportunity, but technically she'll be the 44th to actually fight in the UFC since Esquibel's fight happens later in the month.
It should be noted that the 45 tally doesn't include UFC vets who dropped down to Invicta FC after their release from the promotion. Fighters such as Elizabeth Phillips, Milana Dudieva and Kelly Faszholz all fought for Invicta after getting cut from the UFC. The number also doesn't include Megan Anderson, who hasn't yet completed a UFC fight after withdrawing from UFC 214.