Jillian DeCoursey makes the case for Fighter of the Year with big Invicta FC title win

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Jillian DeCoursey had a perfect 2022.

After sitting out all of 2021 following a unanimous decision loss to Elise Reed in her strawweight debut, “Lionheart” has returned to her usual 105-pound fighting home. In doing so, DeCoursey had an amateur rematch with Lindsey VanZandt, scoring an all-time knockout for the Atomweight division.

DeCoursey’s 61-second masterclass instantly went viral and was all over mixed martial arts (MMA) stores and social pages as far as the eye could see. In the end, the win was enough to earn the 38-year-old an Invicta Fighting Champion title against the champion, Jessica Delboni.

Taking place two weeks ago, DeCoursey took the opportunity as an important underdog. Once again in a single round, the Long Island MMA product methodically hit Delboni before countering a takedown into a fullback choke submission, forcing the tap. Delboni was undeniably on his best run heading into the fight and the loss is his first submission. With 2022 awards looming up for grabs, DeCoursey is now a solid option as Fighter of the Year.

“I think it’s definitely there if you just look at those two very impressive finishes,” DeCoursey told MMA Mania on WMMania. “They weren’t in a scrub at all. One was against [now] former champion and the other was a top contender. For example, if she had won that fight, she would have had a title fight. They were very talented girls and those were impressive first-round finishes, those weren’t things that happened by accident. You saw the technique, you saw the skill there.

With that big goal achieved, DeCoursey now has a plethora of options going forward. First, she wants to defend her title. Subsequently, any new opportunity will be seized.

Invicta returns on November 16, 2022, but DeCoursey won’t turn around that quickly. Who she will face next remains to be seen, and if Delboni pulls it off, an instant rematch will be the direction the promotion takes.

“I don’t think it’s something that should be automatically given to him because even like the last [she lost], she had to work for it,” DeCoursey said. “She had to go through [Phoenix] tournament and she did what she had to do to get another chance. She absolutely deserved another shot, and it felt like a first-round finish. So get it back and yeah I’m open to anything but I don’t think it should just be automatic because it wasn’t like we went to a five round decision or something.

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