After five grueling rounds, Invicta once again has a new featherweight champion and her name is Pam Sorenson.
A finish was not in the cards for Sorenson (8-3), but in her second crack at a vacant 145-pound title she came out on top with a unanimous decision win over Kaitlin Young (10-10-1) in the main event of Invicta FC 36 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
Sorenson’s takedowns proved to be the difference as she was able to put Young down on the mat time and time again while mixing in enough striking to win over all three judges, who scored the fight 50-44, 49-45, and 48-45 in Sorenson’s favor (Young was deducted a point in round one for an illegal knee to a downed opponent).
“I can’t even put into words how amazing it feels, I’ve been through so much even before my last fight,” Sorenson said. “To be able to get in here and do this again, it was a big victory.”
This was Sorenson’s second attempt to become an Invicta champion. Last November, she lost by fourth-round submission to Felicia Spencer in a bout for a vacant title and her plans to return to action earlier this year were thwarted when she had to have a large cyst removed from her ovaries.
Sorenson would not be denied on Friday, repeatedly shooting in from any range to latch onto Young and bring her to the canvas. The more-experienced Young was able to stuff several takedown attempts and turn a few positions on the mat in her favor, but Sorenson spent a large portion of the contest on Young’s back where she hunted for chokes and landed short punches.
Even when it looked like Young might get something going on the feet, Sorenson would drop down and use either a single leg or double leg to stifle Young’s offense. The two continued to push the pace in the championship rounds, with Young threatening with an arm-triangle choke in round four and Sorenson continuing to utilize her wrestling.
Sorenson refused to let Young establish any sort of rhythm and when the 25 minutes were up, she’d done enough on the scorecards to pick up the victory and a title previously held by the likes of Spencer, Megan Anderson, and Cris Cyborg.
In the straWWEight co-main event, former Bellator flyweight title contender Emily Ducote (8-5) made an emphatic Invicta debut, becoming the first fighter to finish Janaisa Morandin (10-3) with strikes. Ducote showed incredible patience to start the bout, absorbing leg kicks as Morandin circled around her. Morandin, who missed weight for the bout by over three pounds, left an opening with a minute remaining in the fight and Ducote capitalized with a counter-right that sliced right through Morandin’s defenses.
A torrent of hammer fists led the referee to step in and stop the bout, a decision that Morandin’s team protested afterwards. Regardless, this will officially go down not only as Morandin’s first knockout loss, but Ducote’s first knockout win.
A battle of atomweight prospects saw Jessica Delboni (9-1) get the split decision nod over Lindsey VanZandt (6-2). Top control proved to be the difference in this closely fought encounter as Delboni spent much of the first and third rounds on top of VanZandt, neutralizing the New Yorker’s offense. VanZandt was active from bottom position, attacking with triangles, but Delboni did not appear to be in any serious danger when on top.
VanZandt won a clear-cut second round by getting an early takedown and advancing to side control, then back control, where she attacked with a rear-naked choke. However, in the end it wasn’t enough to earn the judges’ verdict.
Victoria Leonardo (6-1) handed Stephanie Geltmacher (4-1) her first pro defeat after 15 minutes of action that were a strong showing for both flyweights. As she did in her Fight of the Year candidate against Liz Tracy last November, Geltmacher set the tone early with non-stop lateral movement and potent in-and-out striking. But Leonardo stuck with the game plan and used her reach advantage to counter and push Geltmacher back with kicks.
The ground war proved to be just as even, with Geltmacher initiating the takedowns and Leonardo scrambling out of trouble or into advantageous positions. Neither fighter looked content to settle into any situation, instead constantly moving and trading strikes.
At the end, it was Leonardo who would get the win with a trio of 29-28 scores, but not before Geltmacher was accidentally announced as the winner by split decision. A correction would be announced in the cage after Geltmacher’s post-fight interview, chalking the incorrect result up to a mathematical error, and Leonardo was rightfully given the win and her own mic time.
In other notable action, Caitlin Sammons (2-0) survived the impressive punching power of Chantel Coates (1-1) to pick up a second-round submission win. The majority of the bout saw Coates, who came in half-a-pound over the flyweight limit, soundly outworking Sammons on the feet, but “Ginger” connected with a trip against the cage and expertly took Coates’s back before ending the fight with a rear-naked choke.
See full Invicta FC 36 results here.