Jinh Yu Frey captured the prize she has long pursued.
The Genesis Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu representative laid claim to the vacant Invicta Fighting Championships atomweight title, as she posted a contentious unanimous decision over Minna Grusander in the Invicta 30 headliner on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. All three cageside judges scored it for Frey: 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
It was not without controversy. Grussander employed an attack that relied on relentless forward pressure. She routinely marched down Frey with punches, pressed her into the fence and uncorked short elbows at close range, one of which opened a small cut near the Texan’s hairline. Frey answered with crisp punching combinations -- her left cross was particularly effective -- and a steady diet of leg kicks. However, she did her best work in the third round, where she executed a takedown, applied her ground-and-pound and threatened Grussander with a rear-naked choke. Though her efforts to finish were unsuccessful, they made an impression.
Grussander continued to move forward in the latter rounds in a bid to break her counterpart; and while she believed she had done enough to walk away with Invicta gold strapped to her waist, the judges felt otherwise.
In the aftermath of Invicta 30, here are four matches that ought to be made:
Jinh Yu Frey vs. Minna Grusander: Because of the contentious nature of the decision in their first encounter and the lack of a clear-cut No. 1 contender at 115 pounds, a rematch appears to be in order. Grussander entered the cage on run of four consecutive victories, all of them finishes, and did nothing to diminish her standing within the promotion. The setback was her first since she was outpointed by Syuri Kondo under the Pancrase banner in February 2017. Kondo signed with the UFC eight months later.
Felicia Spencer vs. Pam Sorenson: Spencer showed why observers view her as one of the sport’s top featherweight prospects, as she submitted Helena Kolesnyk with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their co-main event. The 27-year-old Jungle MMA rep schooled Kolesnyk on the ground before drawing out the tap 1:47 into Round 2. A clear contender for Invicta’s vacant featherweight throne, Spencer will carry a 5-0 record into her next outing. Sorenson, 32, has won five of her past six fights. She last appeared at an Iron Tiger Fight Series event on Nov. 22 in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where she eked out a split decision against Strikeforce and EliteXC veteran Jan Finney.
Heather Clark vs. Pearl Gonzalez: In her first appearance since parting ways with the UFC in 2016, Clark put an end to a two-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Kinberly Tanaka Novaes in a three-round strawweight battle. Now training out of Factory X in Colorado, Clark swept the scorecards with 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 marks from the judges. It was the 37-year-old’s first victory since she defeated Bec Rawlings at “The Ultimate Fighter 20” Finale on Dec. 12, 2014. Gonzalez made her Invicta debut in March and has since rattled off consecutive wins at the expense of Kali Robbins and Barbary Acioly. She showed no residual affects from an unsuccessful two-fight run in the UFC.
Brogan Walker-Sanchez vs. Liz Tracy: The unbeaten Walker-Sanchez improved to 6-0 and took the latest step in her development at 125 pounds, as she captured a unanimous decision from Miranda Maverick in a three-round flyweight feature. All three judges scored it for Walker-Sanchez, a Pacific Xtreme Combat veteran based in Guam: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. She executed multiple takedowns, controlled traffic in the clinch and did just enough on the feet. Tracy, 30, has recorded back-to-back victories over Susy Watson and Cheri Muraski. She has come up short only twice as a professional, losing split decisions to Ashley Yoder and Andrea Lee.