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Rivalries: Felicia Spencer


Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL, Dana White’s Contender Series and “The Ultimate Fighter” live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

Felicia Spencer may be at the mercy of uncertainty as she charts her course in an Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight division that feels less and less sustainable with each passing day.

The former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder will attempt to right herself in a featured UFC Fight Night 197 affair opposite “The Ultimate Fighter 28” semifinalist Leah Letson on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Spencer, 30, climbs into the cage on the heels of back-to-back losses. She last appeared at UFC Fight Night 188, where she wound up on the wrong side of a split decision against Norma Dumont on May 22.

As Spencer approaches her three-round battle with Letson, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape her career to this point:

Pam Sorenson


It was a performance marked by dogged determination, and it brought Spencer the gold for which she had been digging. The “FeeNom” submitted Sorenson with a rear-naked choke and laid claim to the vacant Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight crown in the fourth round of their Invicta 32 headliner on Nov. 16, 2018 at the FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Sorenson, who had never before been finished, conceded defeat 4:23 into Round 4. Operating out of The Jungle MMA in Florida, Spencer ran circles around the former King of the Cage champion in the first round. There, she bullied Sorenson to the fence, executed a takedown and advanced to the back before applying her ground-and-pound and hunting the choke. Spencer appeared to tire in Round 2 but managed to survive, extend the fight and wait for a second wind. Late in the fourth round, she put her head down, swarmed with punches and lured Sorenson back to the mat. Spencer again moved to the back, snaked her arms in place and squeezed the Minnesotan into submission.

Megan Anderson


Spencer kept her perfect professional record intact and did so with a cold efficiency, as she submitted her fellow former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 152 women’s featherweight showcase on May 18, 2019 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York. Anderson tapped 3:24 into Round 1. Spencer walked through the Aussie’s punches, navigated five-inch height and four-inch reach disparities, lured her into the clinch and pulled guard. She then maneuvered her way onto Anderson’s back, softened her with ground-and-pound, locked the choke in place and drew the curtain on a successful Octagon debut.

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream the UFC, PFL, Dana White’s Contender Series and “The Ultimate Fighter” live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

Cristiane Justino


The former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce titleholder bounced back from her first loss in more than a decade with a unanimous decision over the hard-charging Spencer in their three-round UFC 240 co-main event on July 27, 2019 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 30-27 for Justino. Spencer offered a surprising amount of resistance—she opened a vertical cut on the Brazilian’s forehead with a standing elbow strike in the first round—but lacked the offensive wherewithal to give “Cyborg” true pause. Justino stuffed all of the Canadian’s attempted takedowns, withstood her advances in the clinch and cut loose with power punching combinations and kicks to the legs and body from a distance. By the time it was over, she had connected on 122 significant strikes while absorbing only 38 in return.

Amanda Nunes


It was even more of a mismatch in practice than it was on paper. Nunes spent five full rounds toying with and abusing Spencer, as she retained her undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s featherweight title in the UFC 250 headliner on June 6, 2020 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges scored it for Nunes: 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45. Spencer survived but offered nothing in terms of meaningful resistance—a fact that was more an affirmation of the champion’s greatness than any kind of indictment on the challenger. Nunes was superior in all phases. She outlanded Spencer at a 124-42 clip in significant strikes and denied all seven of the Florida-based Canadian’s takedown attempts. Meanwhile, Nunes completed six takedowns of her own, shredded her counterpart’s guard and incorporated elbow-laced ground-and-pound that resulted in multiple lacerations. She nearly finished it at the end of the fourth round, where she flurried on a fading Spencer, advanced to the back and cinched a rear-naked choke. The bell prevented the submission, but an air of inevitability had long since enveloped the encounter. Advertisement
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