Typically positive and pleasant, Pam Sorenson isn’t the type of fighter to talk too much trash ahead of a fight.
Which makes it all the more intriguing when she gives an honest assessment of her upcoming opponent Felicia Spencer, one that calls into question the hype surrounding the unbeaten Spencer.
Sorenson and Spencer fight Friday in the Invicta FC 32 main event at Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Okla., with the winner claiming a vacant featherweight title. At 5-0 in her career so far, the 27-year-old Spencer has the makings of a future star, but Sorenson has been in this position before.
In July of last year, Sorenson faced up-and-coming Ukrainian Helena Kolesnyk, and she scored a first-round armbar submission to hand Kolesnyk her first loss. While Sorenson doesn’t take any particular relish in erasing another fighter’s zero, she does think that wins and losses go beyond just the stats and in Spencer’s case, the names behind them have been somewhat lacking.
“I remember my first professional loss, I remember my first amateur loss, and the first one’s always the hardest,” Sorenson told MMA Fighting. “But it’s just a record, it’s just a number, I’m not going to dwell on beating somebody who’s unbeaten. I think usually it means you haven’t really been tested.
“I think that’s the case with Felicia Spencer. She hasn’t really been tested. If you look at the quality of her opponents, it’s not up there. And it’s not like I think it’s her cherry picking, I think she’s just taking the fights that are offered and they’re not very challenging fights.”
Sorenson, 32, can speak from experience as far as having notable victories on her resume. Competing at bantamweight, Sorenson holds wins over current UFC flyweight standouts Nicco Montano and Jessica-Rose Clark. Her most recent win came against one-time Strikeforce title challenger Jan Finney in a 140-pound catchweight affair.
This Invicta title opportunity is a far cry from her days competing for the King of the Cage promotion, where Sorenson’s fights were occasionally overseen by judges of questionable competency; then again, Sorenson acknowledges that her habit of going to the scorecards (only two of her seven wins have ended inside the distance) is completely on her. She plans to take the advice of a former Invicta champion and leave no doubt that she’s the champion come Friday.
“I’ve had some fights on reservations where we didn’t even have MMA judges,” said Sorenson. “They were boxing judges or they didn’t even know what they were watching, so they were like, ‘oh well, you never know’ and all across the board on the whole show there were a lot of questionable calls.
“So that’s kind of out of my control, but what I can do, I remember Tonya Evinger telling me at one point, ‘You have to stop fighting not to lose and start fighting to win’ because I’ve always been on the more careful side and I think that sometimes I just need to go out there and be aggressive and go for a finish instead of being safe.”
Also out of Sorenson’s control was her recent inactivity. A pair of bouts earlier this year fell through, one due to an opponent declining the fight and another not making it past the negotiation phase, according to Sorenson. And then there was The Ultimate Fighter 28 tryouts that saw Sorenson and many other featherweights leave in disappointment when officials chose to cast a 145-pound roster comprised of fighters who compete primarily at 135 pounds.
But Sorenson has moved on from all that, and even expressed relief that she didn’t have to be shacked up in a house with 15 strangers and a film crew for six weeks. As nice as it would have been to boost her profile, Sorenson was already on the radar of the UFC and its featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg.
In July, before her year-end superfight with bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes was booked, Cyborg named Sorenson as one of the women she’d be interested in defending her title against.
Like any fighter at 145 pounds, Sorenson welcomes the prospect of fighting Cyborg someday, but she isn’t looking past Spencer or the rest of the Invicta featherweight division. While she’s open to making the tough cut back down to 135 pounds if that’s her only route to the UFC, she hopes that the promotion eventually commits to signing her and other female featherweights.
If not, she’s ready to carve out her own legacy in Invicta.
“I would hope that when I win, hopefully that will open up a couple of doors — hopefully the UFC opens up the division and says, ‘We really do want to bring [Sorenson] in to fight Cyborg or fight one of the other featherweights they have on their roster,’” said Sorenson. “If nothing else, Invicta is building a legitimate division. They signed Faith Van Duin, Kaitlyn Young, Zarah dos Santos, so they’ve got an actual division now, it’s not as shallow as it used to be. There’s always other opportunities in Invicta as well to defend it.”