In a battle of former Invicta FC strawweight title-holders, it was the UFC newcomer, Brianna Van Buren, who shined in her promotional debut by cruising past Lívia Renata Souza at UFC Sacramento.
If you’re somehow needing more proof that the UFC’s strawweight division is loaded, look no further than Lívía Renata Souza. Despite having a 13-1 professional record, a 2-0 record in the UFC, and being a former Invicta FC 115-pound champ, Souza wasn’t ranked in the top-15 in the division going into UFC Sacramento. She joined the promotion last fall, and has back-to-back wins to begin her UFC run. The Brazilian was originally slated to fight 11th-ranked Cynthia Calvillo at UFC Sacramento. But, Calvillo was forced to pull out of the fight after breaking her foot in early-June.
Stepping-in to face Lívía Renata Souza was another former Invicta FC strawweight champ: Brianna Van Buren. Van Buren caught the attention of the UFC (and everyone else) in May during Invcita’s Phoenix Rising 1 card. That night the California-native won three fights, taking home the vacant 115-pound title. Now, she’s turned that opportunity into another, taking the first UFC fight of her career on short-notice agaisnt a tough opponent in Sacramento.
Brianna Van Buren got things started with a kick to the body, followed by a knee to the same general region. Van Buren looked to work the clinch, with Souza backed up against the fence, having given away the left underhook by Van Buren. Van Buren went to take the fight down, but was to no avail as the Brazilian gets back to her fight almost immediately. They broke, and Souza scored a huge right hand in the transition.
Van Buren continued to stay agressive, backing Souza up to the fence before landing a hard elbow for good measure. Back to the center they reset, Souza taking the center, with just south of 90 seconds to go in the opening stanza. Van Buren fired a head kick. But Souza wisely blocked it. Souza came straight at Van Buren off the break, and landed a huge right straight before Van Buren tried to capitalize on Souza’s errant aggressiveness. Souza transitioned to top position. But, the round comes to an end before she can capitalize.
Cageside Press scores the round 10-9 for Van Buren
Both strawweights continued to show their persistent aggresion throughout. Neither had shown any sign of letting up through the opening six and a half minutes. Van Buren closed the distance beautifully, and scored another combination. Van Buren then reset, and landed another solid combination, wobbling Souza against the cage. The debutant swarmed the Brazilian, but Souza ultimately escaped out of danger to reset back in the center of the octagon.
Another combination punctuated by Van Buren, stunned Souza before she circled out yet again. Van Buren was in no rush, remaining patient throughout. Thirty seconds to go in the second round, Van Buren continued to go for the high kick. A last second exchange saw Van Buren kick out Souza’s right leg from underneath her, however referee Jason Herzog may have had something to do with that when he stepped in to signal the end of the round. Souza almost certainly will need a finish in the final round.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9 for Van Buren
The third and final round began with Souza getting off on the right foot with a leg kick to the inside leg of Van Buren. Souza threw a spinning back kick that lands flush to the body. Van Buren miraculously seems unphased. Then, an inside leg kick scored for Van Buren just past the opening minute mark of round three. Souza remained at the comfortable distance. Souza mixed it up a lot better in this round, and that became evident by a takedown that scored. However, Van Buren immediately threatened omoplata. But Souza was privy to it and escapes back to her feet.
Van Buren scooped Souza up away from the fence, and Souza momentarily attempted a guillotine. Van Buren was able to get her neck free of the choke, and looked to work on top as the two minute mark in the final round came and went. They got back to their feet, with Van Buren familiarly controlling the clinch once again. Souza broke the clinch, and threw a spinning wheel kick that may have just knocked Van Buren out had it landed flush. It caught nothing but air, however, and Brianna Van Buren punctuated her UFC debut performance with another takedown, sealing what should be a certain victory over a very skilled opponent in Livia Renata Souza.
Cageside Press scored the round 10-9, and the fight 30-27 for Van Buren
Result: Brianna Van Buren def. Livia Renata Souza by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)