Kansas City, Kan. — On Friday, May 3, Invicta Fighting Championships hosted its inaugural Phoenix Series tournament from Memorial Hall. The event aired exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
There’s a new strawweight champion as Brianna Van Buren won three fights in one night, submitting Kailin Curran in the Phoenix Series tournament final. The opening stanza featured Van Buren scoring with inside leg kicks. Curran tried to keep the fight at range, but Van Buren changed levels and slammed her to the mat. Once on top, Van Buren was dominant. She controlled the Hawaiian with short shots, but could not find a finish. In the second frame, Van Buren again secured a takedown and immediately passed to mount. She delivered heavy shots, forcing Curran to give up her back along the fence. Curran defended briefly, but it wasn’t enough, as Van Buren locked in the choke and claimed the title.
The evening’s lone non-tournament bout featured Kay Hansen vs. Magdaléna Šormová. Hansen was relentless in the first round, putting the Czech newcomer on the mat and pounding on her with elbows. Šormová was undeterred, looking for armbars from her back and throwing upkicks. In round two, Šormová was able to gain the top position for the first time and she did not relinquish it until just before the horn sounded at the end of the round. She patiently attacked Hansen and nearly passed to mount. The final round saw Hansen look for a throw, but Šormová countered it and took her back. She worked hard for a choke, but Hansen was able to escape and gain top position late in the frame. Hansen went for an armbar with just seconds remaining in the fight, but Šormová was able to survive to the final bell. When the scorecards were read, the judges again dissented, but Šormová scored the split decision win in her promotional debut.
The second half of the semifinals saw Kailin Curran go to war with Sharon Jacobson. After a brief feeling-out process, Jacobson looked for a takedown. Curran countered with a big throw that put her in top position. Jacobson was able to work back to her feet and land big knees along the fence. When the pair separated, Curran was able to land her jab and bloody the nose of Jacobson. The Colorado fighter was able to execute a throw of her own and put Curran on the ground. She passed to side control and landed short shots. Curran powered back to her feet late in the fight and the fight was sent to the judges. All three judges rewarded Curran for her efforts, giving her the second spot in the tournament final.
In the night’s first semifinal match-up, California’s Brianna Van Buren called her shot, selecting Juliana Lima as her opponent with the only finish in the quarterfinals. Lima used her length to stay on the outside early. Van Buren scored with heavy punches before ducking under and scooping up the Brazilian for a huge slam. She worked from the top position, keeping Lima on her back. Lima used an armbar attempt to get back to her feet, but it was short lived as Van Buren slammed her violently to the mat yet again. There was little doubt on the scorecards as Van Buren advanced to the finals.
The tournament’s reserve match-up featured newcomers Alyssa Krahn and Itzel Esquivel. It was the Texas fighter Esquivel who started with heavy kicks, prompting Krahn to work for a takedown. The Canadian Krahn had to work hard to bring the fight to the ground, but she got it there midway through the round. Once in top position, she was able to control Esquivel and score with punches. When it was over, the judges again rendered a split decision, with Krahn edging Esquivel.
The final tournament quarterfinal featured high-powered wrestler Sharon Jacobson against former atomweight title challenger Amber Brown. Jacobson grabbed a single and took the fight to the ground, but Brown used a heel hook attempt to gain the top position. Jacobson scrambled to her feet and the pair traded clinch knees. An arm-drag takedown from Jacobson turned the tide, as she overwhelmed Brown with punches and secured the mount. She delivered elbows and took Brown’s back late to secure the unanimous decision victory and move to the semifinal round.
Brianna Van Buren scored the night’s first finish as she submitted India’s Manjit Kolekar with an armbar. Van Buren scooped up Kolekar and slammed her to the canvas in the opening minute of the fight. She passed to mount and then looked to take Kolekar’s back. A series of punches from Van Buren forced Kolekar to cover up and expose an arm. Van Buren latched on and coerced the tap at the 3:20 mark to move on to the semifinals.
A pair of UFC veterans squared off as Brazil’s Juliana Lima took on Danielle Taylor. Taylor quickly closed the distance and put Lima against the fence. The taller Lima reversed the position and attacked with knees from the clinch. The pair jostled for position as the round progressed. Taylor briefly scored a takedown, but she couldn’t hold Lima on the mat. Lima powered back to the clinch and the fight went the distance. The judges were again split, but Lima moved on to the semifinals.
The tournament action kicked off with a battle between UFC veteran Kailin Curran and Iceland’s Sunna Davíðsdóttir. Curran dropped Davíðsdóttir with a massive right hand early in the fight and looked to secure a choke. Davíðsdóttir fought out of the submission attempt and mounted Curran. She rained punches and elbows, but Curran was able to work back to her feet. Once back to the feet, Curran scored another knockdown. Davíðsdóttir worked back to the top position late in the fight, but the judges were called upon to decide the outcome. They were split in their verdict, but it was Curran who advanced to the semifinals.
Brianna Van Buren def. Kailin Curran by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 3:49 – strawweight tournament final
Magdaléna Šormová def. Kay Hansen by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Kailin Curran def. Sharon Jacobson by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – strawweight tournament semifinal
Brianna Van Buren def. Juliana Lima by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – strawweight tournament semifinal
Alyssa Krahn def. Itzel Esquivel by split decision (9-10, 10-9, 10-9) – strawweight tournament reserve bout
Sharon Jacobson def. Amber Brown by unanimous decision (10-9 x3) – strawweight tournament quarterfinal
Brianna Van Buren def. Manjit Kolekar by submission (armbar). Round 1, 3:20 – strawweight tournament quarterfinal
Juliana Lima def. Danielle Taylor by split decision (9-10, 10-9, 10-9) – strawweight tournament quarterfinal
Kailin Curran def. Sunna Davíðsdóttir by split decision (10-9, 9-10, 10-9) – strawweight tournament quarterfinal
About Invicta FC:
Invicta Fighting Championships is a world championship, all-pro mixed martial arts (MMA) fight series dedicated to providing female athletes with a major platform to hone their skills on a consistent basis. Founded in 2012 by longtime MMA executive Shannon Knapp, Invicta is committed to pioneering the future growth of women’s MMA by promoting the best possible match-ups between female competitors and identifying and developing future superstars of the sport. Follow Invicta on Twitter (@InvictaFights), Facebook (Facebook.com/InvictaFights), and Instagram (@InvictaFC) for all the latest information.