Invicta Fighting Championships hosted their inaugural Phoenix Rising tournament at Memorial Hall on May 3, crowning Brianna Van Buren (8-2) as the new strawweight champion after winning all three fights, as she defeated Kailin Curran (6-7) by a rear-naked choke in the second round of the championship bout.
“Being the first ever Phoenix Rising champion, I haven’t taken it all in yet. I know when I go home and hang out with my family, sleep on it,” Van Buren said, “it’s going to feel amazing. It still feels unreal but dreams really do come true.”
Phoenix Rising 1 featured eight strawweight fighters competing in one-round bouts in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and the championship bout for gold extended to three rounds.
Van Buren became the sole fighter to earn victories by submission. She submitted Manjit Kolekar (11-3) with an armbar in the quarterfinals. Before the tournament, Van Buren’s last submission came in her bout against Jamie Moyle (4-4) on Dec. 15, winning by a rear-naked choke.
Meanwhile, former UFC veteran Juliana Lima (10-6) defeated Danielle Taylor (10-5) via split decision. Van Buren chose to fight Lima, having the option to pick her opponent since she won the first round with a finish.
Sharon Jacobson (6-4) took down the former atomweight Amber Brown (7-6) by unanimous decision, and the Hawaiian Curran earned a split decision favored over Iceland’s own Sunna Davíðsdóttir (3-1) in the quarterfinals.
Jacobson was able to take down Curran despite her known prowess in wrestling, though Curran nailed her jab multiple times as Jacobson attempted a takedown, blood dripped from her nose. Curran made her way to the championship bout after defeating Jacobson by unanimous decision.
Mizuki Inoue (13-5) withdraw from the tournament for safety reasons, due to complications with her weight cut. She was scheduled to fight against Jacobson. Brown replaced the spot of the former strawweight contender.
Inoue lost her opportunity to win the Invicta FC’s strawweight belt, losing by split decision to Virna Jandiroba (14-1) at Invicta FC 28. Jandiroba defended her belt against Janaisa Morandin (10-2) at Invicta FC 31, winning by an arm triangle choke. She eventually suffered her only career loss in April against Carla Esparza (14-6) via Decision.
The Brazilian strawweight Morandin had to be pulled from the tournament as she missed weight. India’s Kolekar (11-2) replaced Morandin’s spot in the quarterfinals.
Van Buren looks ahead after winning Phoenix Rising and holding Invicta FC’s strawweight title.
“I have options and I love options. I’ll go home, sit on it [and] talk to my coaches,” Van Buren said. “Who knows, maybe I will go down to the 105s challenge the champion there.”