Phoenix Rising: Get to Know the Fighters Competing for Strawweight Gold

With the first installment of the Invicta FC Phoenix Rising Series on the horizon, eight of the strawweight divisions finest are preparing for battle on May 3.

With the eight competitors being randomly matched up ahead of the event, in one night we will find out who is the winner of the tournament and new strawweight champion. The action will take place from Kansas City’s Memorial Hall.

The very first tournament of the series features a mix of former title challengers, UFC veterans and staples of the strawweight division in Invicta FC.

Let’s take take a deeper look at the eight women involved in the dawn of a new chapter for the promotion.

MIZUKI (13-5):

Japan’s MIZUKI has been a well-known face in women’s MMA for some time and a true veteran of the Invicta cage. She has fought seven times under the Invicta banner fighting the likes of UFC veterans Bec Rawlings and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

In her last fight, MIZUKI defeated Viviane Pereira at Invicta FC 32. Pereira is also an ex-UFC fighter, competing four times in the promotion. MIZUKI also challenged for the strawweight title last year, coming up short to then-champion Virna Jandiroba and losing via split decision. MIZUKI’s experience and quality anywhere the fight goes makes her a favorite going into the tournament.

Janaisa Morandin (10-2):

Brazil’s Janaisa Morandin has made a big impact in her short time as a professional fighter. Still only 24 years old, Morandin is the most recent person to challenge former titleholder Virna Jandiroba for the strawweight belt.

She lost the fight due to an arm-triangle submission in the second round but this was only her third fight in Invicta. With six of her ten wins coming via finish, Morandin will be looking to beat her opponent quickly, giving her a bonus and the advantage of getting to pick her opponent in the semifinals.

Danielle Taylor (10-4):

Making her second appearance in Invicta, Danielle Taylor showed her class in her debut beating the undefeated Montserrat Ruiz at Invicta FC 33.

Competing against the likes of Weili Zhang and defeating former Invicta champion Jessica Penne during her UFC run, Taylor has shown she can compete at the highest level. Her dominant debut put the division on notice and now Taylor is ready to separate herself from the rest.

Juliana Lima (9-5):

With seven fights in the UFC, Brazil’s Juliana Lima is ready for everything you can throw at her. She has stood across the cage from the likes of Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Tecia Torres and Carla Esparza. During her time in the UFC she picked up wins over Nina Ansaroff, Ericka Almeida and JJ Aldrich.

She is returning to Invicta for the first time since 2013. At the age of 37, Lima may be the most experienced woman in the tournament which could help her progress into the later stages.

Kailin Curran (4-6):

The last of the UFC veterans in the tournament, Kailin Curran entered the UFC at 3-0 in her pro career. Curran has not fought since the end of 2017 and will be looking to make a big impact on her return which will also be her debut in Invicta.

Curran has a history of being in entertaining fights and won a “Fight of the Night” bonus for her UFC debut against Paige VanZant in 2014.

Brianna Van Buren (5-2):

After a great performance in her second Invicta appearance, Brianna Van Buren comes into the tournament with plenty of momentum behind her.

“Tha Bull” defeated ex-UFC fighter Jamie Moyle in her previous fight and asked for the winner of the co-main event of the evening which was won by Danielle Taylor. Van Buren is a fast and creative striker that will be able to go toe-to-toe with any of the women in the tournament when in striking range.

Sharon Jacobson (5-4):

Sharon Jacobson is a staple of the strawweight division in Invicta. She has five previous fights in the division with three wins, all via unanimous decision.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Jacobson uses her determination and athletic ability to take opponents down and nullify their offense. Her grappling abilities make her a dangerous match up for anyone in the tournament.

Sunna Davíðsdóttir (3-0):

Despite having the least experience on the surface, Sunna Davíðsdóttir’s three wins have all come in Invicta FC. Debuting at Invicta FC 19 in 2016, she has picked up unanimous decision wins over Ashley Greenway, Mallory Martin and Kelly D’Angelo.

Davíðsdóttir is solid wherever the fight takes place. Her last fight was at Invicta 24 in 2017. With this break in action, she’ll be eager to show off what she has been working on whilst training at Mjolinir in her home country of Iceland.


This piece is a special contribution from Kyle Dimond, a journalism major in Gloucester, England. You can follow Kyle on Twitter.

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