Invicta FC 32: Felicia Spencer Captures Featherweight Gold, Challenger Emerges for Sarah Kaufman

Felicia Spencer, Invicta FC 32, UFC
Credit: Dave Mandel, Invicta FC

A champion was crowned, and a challenger emerged: Felicia Spencer and Julia Avila were the big stories at Invicta FC 32 on Friday.

If Invicta FC 32 was a little light on the finishes early on, they came when it really mattered. Heading into the promotion’s first trip to Oklahoma, the big story at the all-female fighting promotion’s 32nd event was the main event clash. The title on the line. The belt once held by Cris Cyborg, that had languished over a year, since Megan Anderson had jumped ship to the UFC. Felicia Spencer was ready to throw down with Pam Sorenson, and one of those ladies would walk out the new Invicta featherweight champion.

Spencer entered the night the undefeated prospect who had spent her entire career with the promotion. After a tantalizing face-off with ex-champ Anderson after her last win (a bit of a puzzle, unless the UFC opted to call Spencer up), Invicta booked her against the gritty Pam ‘Bam’ Sorenson for the vacant featherweight title. Early on, it looked like it might be a short night for Spencer. She took Sorenson down after off a clinch up against the fence, worked to her back, and looked for a choke.

Sorenson, a veteran of the fight game, made it a real scrap, however. She proved hard to hold down, and incredibly adept at landing in top control off takedowns. She was no doubt the more experienced striker, as well, but by the fourth round, Spencer’s determination paid off. She took Sorenson down one last time, and this time, got at least one hook in, plus an arm under the neck. The rear-naked choke was soon cinched in. Sorenson’s tap came moments later.

For a fighter who told us earlier this year that she wasn’t expecting a title shot, the now 6-0 Spencer not only earned the shot but the title itself. She now, as she noted post fight, has plenty of opportunities. If the UFC gets serious about featherweight (despite the current season of The Ultimate Fighter promoting the weight class, it feels like the organization is hedging its bets, with many of the fighters involved natural bantamweights), she could land there. That could set up the showdown with Anderson foreshadowed months ago. Or, there’s always a few title defenses in Invicta, which could do wonders for the division by snapping up a few extra 145lb’ers, if possible.

While Spencer’s win tied up one storyline for now, another emerged at Invicta FC 32. Finally, Sarah Kaufman has a dance partner. It feels like forever ago that Kaufman won the Invicta FC bantamweight title. While it was actually just May, that’s long enough. Kaufman has been campaigning for a fight, either in Invicta or the UFC, for a while. On Saturday, she appears to have found her next challgner: Julia Avila.

Avila stormed out of the gate against Alexa Conners. She charged in, throwing, and completely overwhelmed her. The biggest surprise was that the fight made it out of the first round. It was no surprise, really, when Avila finally finished it in the second.

While Avila improved to 5-1 with the win and got her hand raised after a loss back in May, there’s some fine print there: Avila’s lone loss, that May bout at Invicta FC 29 (when Kaufman won the title), was due to an injured finger. Sustaining the injury less than a minute in (and it was a nasty one), were it not for the bad luck, the fight really could have had a different outcome.

So rather than see her as a fighter coming off a loss prior to Friday, consider Avila one who could be 6-0 right now. One who pushes the pace, and looks for the finish.

Kaufman, for one, seems to believe she’s found a worthy opponent:

2019 could finally see some real movement in the bantamweight and featherweight title pictures in Invicta, with both championships being defended. And that is great news.