It was a performance marked by dogged determination, and it brought Felicia Spencer the gold for which she had been digging.
Spencer submitted Pam Sorenson with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round of their Invicta 32 headliner on Friday at the FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, as she laid claim to the vacant Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight crown. Sorenson (7-3, 2-2 Invicta), who had never before been finished, conceded defeat 4:23 into Round 4.
Operating out of The Jungle MMA in Florida, Spencer (6-0, 6-0 Invicta) ran circles around the former King of the Cage champion in the first round. There, she bullied Sorenson to the fence, executed a takedown and advanced to the back before applying her ground-and-pound and hunting the choke. Spencer appeared to tire in the second but managed to survive, extend the fight and wait for a second win. Late in the fourth round, she put her head down, swarmed with punches and lured Sorenson back to the mat. Spencer again moved to the back, snaked her arms in place and squeezed the Minnesotan into submission.
In the strawweight co-main event, reigning Deep Jewels champion Mizuki Inoue outboxed and outclassed Viviane Pereira to a unanimous decision. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Inoue (13-5, 4-3 Invicta).
Pereira (13-3, 0-1 Invicta) struck for a takedown in the first round but offered little else in terms of meaningful offense. Inoue peppered the Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran with darting combinations, a lightning-bolt jab and clubbing overhand rights. Frustration built for Pereira during the second and third rounds, where she was powerless to stop her Japanese counterpart’s advances.
The 24-year-old Inoue has rattled off five wins in her past six appearances.
Meanwhile, Julia Avila put away Alexa Conners with a front kick to the face and follow-up punches in the second round of their bantamweight showcase. Conners (5-3, 1-3 Invicta) succumbed to an accumulation of punishment 4:43 into Round 2.
Avila (5-1, 1-1 Invicta) overwhelmed the South Carolinian with ferocious bursts of punches, kicks and knees, one of which left Conners with a badly damaged nose in the first round. The “Raging Panda” maintained a punishing pace into the middle stanza, turned up the heat in the waning seconds and floored Conners with the front kick. Avila backed it up with punches, forcing referee Kevin Nix to act.
In other action, Ashley Cummins (7-4) pocketed a unanimous decision at the expense of Jessica Correa Delboni (7-1) in a three-round atomweight duel, prompting 29-28 marks across the board; Kaitlin Young (9-9-1) put away Sarah Patterson (4-5) with a leg kick and follow-up punches 1:25 into the first round of their catchweight tussle at 150 pounds; Erin Blanchfield (3-0) eked out a majority decision -- 28-28, 29-28, 29-28 -- over Kay Hansen (3-2) in a three-round flyweight confrontation; Stephanie Geltmacher (4-0) picked up a unanimous decision against Liz Tracy (5-3) in a three-round flyweight battle, carrying the cards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 scores; Kathryn Paprocki (1-0) was awarded a unanimous verdict over Isis Verbeek (0-1) in a three-round encounter at 115 pounds, drawing 29-27 marks from all three judges; and Chelsea Chandler (1-1) took a unanimous decision from Mitzi Merry (2-1) in a three-round bantamweight pairing, sweeping the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 nods.