Of all the weight classes in MMA, the women’s featheweight division has been the subject of derision amongst fans and reporters who’ve mocked it and even called for it’s dissolution. Most of this negativity has been aimed at the UFC’s managent of it’s own division which despite having the most famous female featherweight in Cris Cyborg hasn’t known quite what to do with her, feeding her with glorified catch weight match ups.
Bellator has a decent champion in Julia Budd and made the effort to actually have her as a defending champion, but the promotion lacks the depth of a full division.
Invicta has been making the effort to promote a viable featherweight division, however it’s as always hampered by it’s champions making the jump to UFC the moment they gain any recognition of momentum. Nethertheless they carry on, finally putting together a fight for the title vacated by Megan Anderson and having a second fight on the card to build up a potential champion.
Featherweight Title: Felicia Spencer (5-0) vs. Pam Sorenson (7-2)
I’ve been raving about Felicia Spencer since I started writing these Invicta previews and although I’m happy to see her getting a shot at the title, I would much rather Megan Anderson have stayed around to defend the belt against her. Anderson instead vacated the title to go to UFC last year. Spencer is fun to watch, a powerful rough house fighter who knees, slams, punches and tears bodyparts apart as if she wants to pull arms off her opponents to have something else to beat them with.
Undefeated in all her pro fights, all of them in Invicta, my favourite memory of her was being caught in a standing guillotine against Akeela Al-Hammeed but had the flexibility to knee her in the head. In July she made Helena Kolesnyk her latest victim finishing her in the second round with a rear naked choke.
Pam Sorenson too beat Helena Kolesnyk back in 2017 with an armbar in the first round. She took a fight last December outside of Invicta when she beat veteran Jan Finney by decision. This is her first fight for her in 2018, the long lay off due to her being left in limbo on whether she was going to be given the opportunity to appear on the featherweight season of Ultimate Fighter (honestly this has season has passed me by).
Sorenson is giving up a lot in size to Spencer, however she has far more experience and her 7-2 record has been against more seasoned opposition. She also has fought over five rounds before while this is Spencer’s first championship distance fight.
Strawweight: MIZUKI (12-5) vs. Viviane Pereira (13-2)
Mizuki has been a popular fighter for Invicta ever since the 6th show back in 2013 where she caused an upset beating Bec Rawlings. She’s made waves both in the US and Japan where she fights for Jewels another all female promotion.
The ever entertaining Mizuki returned from a long absence from the cage in March to challenge Virna Jandiroba for the Straw weight tiltle. Mizuki fell short but did take the champion the distance making her work for a split decision.
Vivinae Pereira makes her Invicta debut here but is a seasoned pro. In 2016 she took a 9-0 record into the UFC and won her first two fights there over Valerie Letourneau and Jamie Moyle. However she took two decision losses to Tatiana Suarez and Xiaonan Yan. UFC can’t seem to wait to cut fighters these days and the two losses were enough of an excuse to let her go. Invicta jumped right in to give her an opportunity to regroup ,
Atomweight: Ashley Cummins (6-4) vs. Jessica Delboni (7-0)
Police Officer Ashley Cummins has had an up and down career in Invicta. Around 2013 she suffered a three fight losing streak, but after getting a win in Bellator against Nicole Smith with a Knee to the neck choke bounced back into Invicta with a win over tough Amber Brown. She had a cracking tussle with Jinh Yu Frey, losing via decision. Once again she bounced back with a win in January over Stephanie Alba.
Unlike a lot of Brazillans coming into Invicta ,Jessica Delboni impressive sounding 7-0 had been earned against actual fighters who have had their hands raised (as opposed to those sparring partners who’ve quit after only having losses in the cage). She has a savage pitbull intensity to her and of all Brazillans Invicta have brought in has the most potential.
Featherweight: Kaitlin Young (8-9-1) vs. Zarah Fairn Dos Santos (6-2)
Talk about a comeback. Kaitlin Young is a veteran who began fighting in MMA in the days when when women fought three minute rounds and Dana White smugly blew off the idea that women would ever fight in the UFC. Funny old world init?
“There’s something about having the perspective I have now… I feel like I’ve found that missing piece and it’s just about seeing what I can do with it. I want to get to the absolute top of my division. That’s my goal.” – @kaitlin_young #InvictaFC32 pic.twitter.com/6z1k1uZw7X
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) November 9, 2018
Young made a name for herself blasting through a tournament for Bodog with three KO victories all within a minute. She then thought a high profile fight for Elite EXC against Gina Carano which she lost in the second round due to doctor stoppage.
She then took part in a tournament for a television show in 2010 called Ultimate Women challenge, a reality style show that seemed to be a promising opportunity to showcase women’s MMA. She gained a victory over Julie Kedzie, however the series never aired and many of the women took the producers to court having never been paid.
Young fought for various small promotions that began to experiment with the trend for including women’s fights and when Invicta started up she ended up on the first show with a great fight against Leslie Smith which ended in a draw. Young had a tough time in Invicta losing to Liz Carmouche and a rematch to Leslie Smith. Two further loses seemed to end her career, however Young would remain with Invicta working behind the scenes and doing sterling work when she took over matchmaking duties from Julie Kedzie (the matchmaking, putting together intriguing and well matched fights stylistically has always been one of the strengths of invicta and Young deserves credit for this).
Then just a few months ago Young took a fight in Japan for Rizin against the Japanese superstar Reina Miura. Promoters in Japan have been trying to feed names to Miura to build her up her reputation, but Young wasn’t here to play that game and took the fight to Miura and with a great display of control walked out of Japan with a decision win.
Zarah Fairn Dos Santos is another featherweight who ended up with a year of inactivity, thinking that her 6-2 record actually at featherweight would gain her a shot on the Ultimate Fighter season. Instead Dos Santos was left in the cold and she swiftly slammed UFC for snubbing her in favour of fighters more known for being at Bantamweight.
Quite why UFC didn’t give her a shot is unclear, as she has a relentless striking style, able to mix it up on the inside as well as use her long kicks to fight from an impressive distance.
Bantamweight: Alexa Conners (5-2) vs. Julia Avila (5-1)
When last we saw Alexa Conners in Invicta at their 25th show I said of her “This will be Connors sixth pro fight in just over 12 months and with such a work ethic and the solid skills she has shown in the cage make her a definite prospect to keep an eye on. “ Naturally she was then knocked out in the first round by Katharina Lehner.
Conners however bounced back just six months later beating Carina Damm at Extreme Beatdown 21.
Julia Avila made her debut for Invicta in March at their 29th show against Marciea Allen. The result was frustrating and heartbreaking, as in the opening minute she blocked a kick which resulted in a broken finger and forced the fight to be stopped. Fans at home were no doubt outraged at the anticlimax until they saw a shot of bone sticking out of her finger which promptly shut them up as responded by either fainting or vomiting.
Happy Veterans Day!
Thank you to all the selfless men and women who have served ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/LbRycegp5i
— Kay Hansen (@KayHansenMMA) November 11, 2018
Flyweight: Erin Blanchfield (2-0) vs. Kay Hansen (3-1)
Erin Blanchfield came into Invicta at show 30 with a win in the Eddie Bravo invitational and having a 7-1 record in kickboxing and Muay Thai. The 19 yeard old did not disappoint with a points win over Britteny Cloudy. This was an awkward fight for Blanchfield against a taller opponen who was picking her off with stinging shots early. She came back into the fight with some heavy kicks and shots and was a constant threat when trying to take the fight to the ground.
Kay Hansen is another young fighter (she was the youngest to actually get a win in the promotion),using Invicta to try and rise up above her contemporaries. She ran the gauntlet of emotions as an Invicta fighter, winning her debut in first round armbar win but being busted open and stopped in her fight against Kayln Schwartz. This is her fifth fight in a twelve month period, attaining a 3-1 record. Her last fight was back in September where she beat Helen Peralta at Invicta 31 in the last minute of the third round via TKO.
Flyweight: Liz Tracy (5-2) vs. Stephanie Geltmacher (3-0)
Liz Tracy first fought for Invicta in 2017 where she managed to make a fight of it with much hyped Andrea Lee. Though losing she earned some credit and earned herself a return shot back in May where she was impressive in outpointing Cheri Muraski.
Stephanine Geltmacher was absolutely ferocious when she made her debut for Invicta 30 when she pounded the living daylights out of Kerry Kenneson. Taking her opponent down in the first few seconds the Hawaiian swarmed all over Kenneson for what must have been the longest three minutes of her life, raining down on her with punches and elbows until the fight was thankfully waved off.
Geltmacher took up wrestling as a child and tried out for the olympics. But it was MMA that really got her passion racing after following in her husband’s footsteps.
Strawweight: Isis Verbeek (0-0) vs. Kathryn Paprocki (1-0)
Isis Verbeek first forray into combat sports was as a kickboxer and she has had around 50 fights along with her muay thai bouts (51-6 to be exact) . She got herself into the premier kickboxing promotion Glory where she earned a 1-1 record. She comes in with a lot of potential with her superior striking, but that style doesn’t always translate well in MMA,. Invicta has tried bringing in Boxers and kickboxers before and many have not faired well with the transisiton.
Kathryn Paprocki fought last month in some of the strangest of circumstances. She competed in a Queen of Sparta tournament, where the first round was under boxing rules (she beat Cassie Robb), the semi finals were fought in Muay Thai rules (she beat Celine Haga), and the final was fought under MMA rules where Paprocki won the tournament by beating Diana Schissler in a bloody encounter. Remember this crazy shit only happened a month ago.
"I am ready to show the world who I am." Kickboxing veteran @IsisVerbeek is set to make her MMA debut at #InvictaFC32 when she takes on Kathryn Paprocki LIVE on @UFCFightPass! 🇳🇱 pic.twitter.com/pItYnWR7JT
— Invicta FC (@InvictaFights) November 7, 2018
Paprocki got into MMA while watching her husband trained and wanted to give it a go. She has a crowd pleasing fast paced, striking style and has a quirky personality that could make her a favourite in Invicta.
I’m picking this one as my show stealing fight of the night.
Bantamweight: Chelsea Chandler (0-1) vs. Mitzi Merry (2-0)
Chelsea Chandler came into her debut at Invicta 28 as a bit of a mystery with no real record to examine, although she did have a bluebelt in Jiu Jitsui.. However she did come in with the backing of Leslie Smith and Nick Diaz. Chandler had lots of attitude and charisma but despite this and her strong team Chandler came up short, losing by decision to Kerri Kenneson. Chandler had a decent first round but was knocked down just before the bell and for the rest of the fight was dominated , although she did go for some god looking submissions. She’s getting another shot in Invicta when she welcomes Mitzi Merry.
Not much I can say about Mitzi Merry. She first had an MMA fight back in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2017 that she returned to fight and beat Erica Torres (a fighter who had not fought since 2010).
That’s your opener, ever get the feeling something is going on you don’t know about?
Invicta 32 takes place on Friday, November 16th and comes from the Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma “where the wind comes sweepin down the plain”
Till next time