|USA Today Sports
Felicia Spencer meets Cyborg this weekend.
Felicia Spencer’s promotional debut last May was nothing short of spectacular. The Quebec native maintained her undefeated record against fellow former Invicta world champion, the tricky Megan Anderson via a first-round submission victory. The featherweight grappling ace scored a rear-naked choke triumph inside the opening four minutes over the dangerous striker Anderson, solidifying her status as a division contender. This weekend at UFC 240, Spencer faces the stiffest test of her young professional career to date. A hometown clash with former 145 pound best Cris Cyborg, offers Spencer, not only a major scalp but also a legitimate obstacle, ahead of a potential meeting with Amanda Nunes. Below, I recap the career of Jungle MMA product Felicia Spencer.
Invicta FC Triumph:
A livelong mixed-martial artist, 28-year-old Spencer began taking Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes during her early teenage years. A move to Orlando, Florida opened the opportunity for Spencer to train full time at Jungle MMA. Under the guidance of Mike Lee, Felicia quickly honed both her striking and grappling talents, earning black belts in both disciplines. A 2015 call up to Invicta FC offered Spencer her premier professional match. A lightweight clash with Rachael Wiley seen Spencer score a promotional debut win, via first-round knockout. A second appearance for the organization came eighteen months later, this time in a featherweight bout against Madison McElhaney, earning some vital experience in a three-round unanimous decision win.
Two submission victories in her next three walks, seen Felicia Spencer catapulted into her premier professional title clash. Stoppages of Amy Coleman and Helena Kolesnyk sandwiched between another decision win over Akeela Al-Hamed earned Spencer a crack at featherweight best Pam Sorenson. Leaving it late to find the finish, Spencer secured a rear-naked choke win in the final thirty seconds. A recent March call from the Ultimate Fighting Championship offered Spencer a shot at the ‘big time’.
The Call Up
I spoke in great depth with Felicia Spencer ahead of her promotional bow against fellow former Invicta FC champion Megan Anderson, and I found the wide narrative of the conversation, was Felicia’s plan to claim the thin featherweight division as her own. A recent influx of talent from Invicta has seen the likes of Tonya Evinger, Yana Kunitskaya and the previously mentioned Anderson all make the leap to the UFC, but only Spencer has marked her debut with a victory. Despite some early adversity while dealing with Megan’s straight right hands, Felicia employed her grappling dominance, pulling guard from a clinch before scrambling expertly to Anderson’s back with the help of a body triangle. Using the cage to her advantage, Spencer locked up a now patented rear-naked choke, to force the tap with referee Keith Peterson stepping in.
Saturday’s co-main event clash with Brazilian powerhouse Cris Cyborg sees Felicia enter as a considerable betting underdog, as she looks to compile misery on Cyborg who was stopped early in the opening round against compatriot Amanda Nunes last time out. All is not lost for Spencer already though, given previous title challenger Yana Kunitskaya’s early success against Cris. The fellow former Invicta FC champion managed to take Cyborg’s back during an early grappling foray, before a ground-and-pound win for the Curitiba favorite. Cyborg’s newfound fondness of a measured and calculated approach under the tutelage of Jason Parillo also offers Spencer an opportunity to gauge her most likely path to success in arguably her most dangerous and high profile bout to date.