KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- Mara Romero Borella once again proved that it’s not how you start a fight but how you finish it.
After a slow opening round that saw her trapped in a tight guillotine, Borella rallied and claimed the last two rounds to earn a split decision -- 30-27, 28-29, 29-28 -- over Milana Dudieva in the Invicta Fighting Championships 24 flyweight main event on Saturday at the Scottish Rite Temple.
Borella (11-4) has now won three straight fights. The Italian fighter is 5-0 with one no-contest in her last six outings since suffering back-to-back-to-back in 2015.
Dudieva (11-6) got a takedown early in the opening round of her Invicta debut, maintained top control for most of the period and threatened with a guillotine. However, Borella was able to fend off the submission attempt and send the fight into a second round. There, Borella -- also an Invicta debutante -- snagged the takedown, landed some ground-and-pound and controlled the round while Dudieva sought to land upkicks and maintain her guard.
With the outcome of the fight seemingly in the balance going into the final round, Borella got a much-needed takedown and moved to side control. However, Dudieva attempted a triangle before Borella escaped and regained side control, eventually mounting Dudieva to seal the victory.
Dudieva, who went 1-2 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has now lost three straight fights and is just 3-5 in her last eight contests.
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Meanwhile, Jinh Yu Frey (6-2) used takedowns and solid submission defense to survive multiple close calls and pick up a unanimous decision -- 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 -- over Ashley Cummins in the atomweight co-feature.
Cummins (5-4) landed strikes early in the first round, but Frey was able to take the fight to the mat and land some ground-and-pound. Cummins got back to her feet, but Frey took her back down to regain control of the fight. After Frey allowed Cummins to stand, the two fought in the clinch to end a close opening stanza.
Frey opened the second round with a takedown and had multiple takedowns in the frame, but Cummins threatened with submission attempts from the bottom each time. However, Frey was able to keep Cummins from fully locking one on and getting a submission win. Frey scored another takedown early in the final round and this time was better able to defend Cummins’ submission attempts. In fact, she took her back and worked for a submission of her own. Cummins was able to get back to guard but could not do anything more against Frey’s smothering top game.
The victory is the fourth in her last five outings for Frey, who suffered a doctor's stoppage loss to Ayaka Hamasaki in the second round at Invicta 19 in September. The Mohler MMA representative is now 4-2 under the Invicta banner.
Cummins saw a run of two straight wins stopped with the loss; the Wolves Den MMA fighter fell to 2-4 in her Invicta career.
Elsewhere, Helena Kolesnyk (5-1) may have been the fighter originally scheduled to compete for the Invicta featherweight title in the main event of the card, but it was late substitute Pam Sorenson (6-2) who shone in their featherweight contest, claiming a first-round submission victory over the Ukrainian prospect.
Sorenson took down Kolesnyk early on, advanced to mount and tapped her with an armbar at the 3:12 mark. A Minnesota native, Sorenson recorded the first submission of her professional career and posted her fourth win in her last five outings.
Kolesnyk, who saw prospective opponents Tonya Evinger and Megan Anderson fall out due to their signing with the UFC, will have to regroup following the loss in her Invicta debut.
In other action, Karina Rodriguez (5-2) wiped out previously unbeaten Barbara Acioly (4-1), stopping the Brazilian just 2:14 into their 125-pound matchup; Miranda Maverick (3-0) remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision -- 30-26, 29-28, 30-27 -- over Gabby Romero in a flyweight contest; Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (3-0) counterstruck and ground-and-pounded her way to a unanimous decision -- 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 -- over Kelly D’Angelo in a 115-pound bout; and Felicia Spencer (3-0) used her superior wrestling to take down and submit Amy Coleman (2-2) via rear-naked choke at 3:17 of the first round in the night’s opening fight, a featherweight affair.