After an incredible first tournament in May that saw Brianna Van Buren crowned the Invicta strawweight champion, the Phoenix Series is back for its second tournament. With it comes eight flyweights all set to compete on Sept. 6 in a one-night, single-elimination tournament at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan.
The competition will follow the same rules as the first installment of the series and similar to that event back in May, it features a mix of top competitors including Invicta veterans, exciting prospects and newcomers to the Invicta FC cage.
Without further ado, it’s time to meet the eight women involved in the return of the Phoenix Series:
DeAnna Bennett (10-5-1):
The first of three fighters who step into this tournament after competing in a four-woman title contender tournament earlier in the year, Bennett is no stranger to being at the top of her division in Invicta. Bennett challenged Livia Renata Souza back in 2016 for the Invicta FC strawweight championship, coming up short on that occasion.
After beginning her career 8-0, Bennett has been a top contender in the sport for many years. She will be going into the tournament in search of a title shot after just missing out on one when she lost a very close decision to Karina Rodriguez in her last fight.
Milana Dudieva (12-8):
Dudieva is the second fighter in the tournament who comes in after competing in the four-woman tournament earlier this year, losing her initial fight — a “Fight of the Night” performance — to Karina Rodriguez who went on to beat Bennett in the final and win the tournament.
She comes into Sept. 6 as the woman with the most fights in the competition and an impressive record of 12 wins with 10 coming via stoppage. Dudieva has experience fighting in the UFC and against some of the biggest names in the sport such as former UFC champion Jessica Andrade. Her experience and strong Judo background make her a tough match-up for any of the other seven women.
Miranda Maverick (5-2):
The third and final woman who competed in the flyweight tournament earlier in the year is Maverick. She comes in as the youngest of the eight women at 22 years old but is showing promising signs as a prospect in the sport.
Maverick lost her fight in the four-woman tournament to DeAnna Bennett but held her own against her the whole fight showing that despite only being seven fights into her professional career, she is ready to take on the very best in Invicta. Whilst studying and aiming for a PhD in psychology, she has picked up a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and earned four of her five wins via submission.
Shanna Young (6-2):
Stepping into the competition to replace the injured Cheri Muraski doesn’t mean that Young isn’t prepared for this tournament. Fighting on Dana White’s Contender Series in August, Young will be hoping to capitalize on this quick turn around and make the most out of the opportunity.
This will be Young’s second time in the Invicta cage following a split decision loss to Lisa Spangler at Invicta FC 31, a fight which was in contention for “Fight of the Year.” A black belt in Karate, Young has finished four of her six wins and is a skillful distance striker.
Liz Tracy (5-3):
“The Titan” Tracy comes into the second tournament of the Phoenix Series with confidence in her own abilities. Bringing strong wrestling fundamentals and high-level training at 10th Planet Portland, Tracy has showed that she has the ability to neutralize her opponents with her technique.
Stepping into the cage for the first time in 2019, Tracy’s last fight at Invicta FC 32 was voted the best “Fight of the Year” in 2018 by the fans. Her performance against Stephanie Geltmacher showed that Tracy is not just a grappler and that she can and will stand and trade punches with anyone standing across the cage from her.
Victoria Leonardo (6-1):
Making a short turnaround after a “Fight of the Night” performance at Invicta FC 36 that extended her winning streak to four straight, Louisiana’s Leonardo will be out to prove she’s a contender at 125 pounds.
The 29-year-old will make her fourth Invicta appearance and looks to add to her resume that includes four submission finishes. She has tangled with fellow tournament competitor Miranda Maverick and holds wins over Stephanie Geltmacher and Jamie Milanowski under the Invicta banner.
Daiana Torquato (9-3):
The first of two fighters in the tournament who will be stepping into the Invicta cage for the first time, Torquato is bringing lots of momentum with her into the tournament.
Following seven straight wins in her native Brazil, Torquato is a black belt in Muay Thai and has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She trains out of Thai Brasil Floripa alongside the UFC’s Marina Rodriguez and will be ready to test her striking skills against whoever she is matched up against.
Maiju Suotama (8-4):
The final entrant in the eight-woman flyweight tournament is Finnish grappling specialist Maiju Suotama. An ADCC European champion and a NAGA expert champion, Suotama’s grappling accomplishments speak for themselves.
With all but one of her professional wins coming via finish — with five TKOs and two submissions — Suotama rounds out the eight competitors as an exciting finisher and a former Strikeforce fighter.
This piece is a special contribution from Kyle Dimond, a journalism major in Gloucester, England. You can follow Kyle on Twitter.