When Pam Sorenson was looking at her options for a return to action after a long layoff, she was waiting to hear from her promoters at Invicta Fighting Championships while hoping to potentially receive a call from the UFC offering her a contract.
As an 11-fight veteran with experience against a long list of notable opponents including Kaitlin Young, Jessica-Rose Clark, Nicco Montano and Felicia Spencer, the 35-year-old featherweight felt like perhaps it was time to graduate to the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion.
Her plans changed after she heard UFC president Dana White make some unkind remarks about the talent in the women’s 145-pound division.
“I was kind of holding out cause I knew Bellator was an option but I was kind of holding out because I thought the UFC would call but obviously they did not,” Sorenson told MMA Fighting. “Dana White made some not so nice comments about myself and some other female featherweights and it’s like I’m not going to hold my breath for a guy who for one, I don’t think he respects the female athletes but he’s also kind of disrespected me.
“We went to Shannon [Knapp] over at Invicta and we’re like there aren’t a lot of girls fighting at 145 [pounds]. Most of them only had a handful of fights. We talked about moving down to 135 and maybe fighting for that title and then I had surgery again and I just thought 135 isn’t right for me anymore. I talked to my manager and said let’s talk to Bellator and see what the options were and Shannon was really great. She was really supportive. She said ‘I know we lost our featherweights with experience, I understand, go take the opportunity.’”
With hopes to eventually climb the rankings for a showdown with Bellator champion Cris Cyborg in the future, Sorenson is excited to get back in action while putting the UFC in her rearview mirror as the promotion remains uninterested in truly building the featherweight division.
“There’s what one featherweight fight booked now and it’s Holly Holm and Norma Dumont?” Sorenson said. “Other that, that’s the only fight they have booked for the featherweights. I don’t want to work for a disrespectful boss and it’s like he’s forced a lot of the featherweights down to bantamweight.
“Zarah Fairn, she couldn’t make 135 but he’s trying to book her at 135. Macy [Chiasson], the TUF winner, went down to 135. I feel like they’re bringing in people for one fight at featherweight and then they’re forcing them down to bantamweight.”
At Bellator, Sorenson will be working for Scott Coker, a promoter who has been praised by many of his athletes as a promoter truly invested in the fighters and their success without putting himself into the spotlight all that often.
While she hasn’t had the chance to sit down and speak with Coker yet, Sorenson can see by his track record where he promoted high profile women’s fights in Strikeforce as well as Bellator to know he’s committed to those divisions for the long haul.
“It’s nice that he’s not out there talking sh*t about the division,” Sorenson said about Coker. “Even before Dana White he had the first women in the UFC, just the comments he said about women in general — ‘no, you’re never going to see women in the octagon’ — like they weren’t good enough for him.
“Shannon [Knapp] was so awesome to work for, she was there for the fighters. If there was a better opportunity that came up, she was like ‘I’m not going to hold you back.’ I think the same will be true at Bellator.”
Long term, Sorenson wants the chance to prove she’s the best featherweight in the world and that road will eventually lead to Cyborg, who has been the most dominant fighter at 145 pounds for most of her career.
Thus far in Bellator, Cyborg has gone a perfect 3-0 without a single opponent making it to the final bell against her.
Even before she signed with the promotion, Sorenson had been angling for that fight and she hopes a good start with a win at Bellator 264 for land her on Cyborg’s radar.
“I think Cris and I would be a great fight,” Sorenson said. “I’ve always respected her and wanted to fight her. I’ve been very vocal about wanting to fight her. I’ll take whatever fight gets me closer to that fight. No matter who it is.”