Pam Sorenson (R) (Kiara Kaiser/Combat Press)

Women’s MMA Weekend Preview: Bellator 264, UWC 28

With no UFC event, it is a slow week for women’s MMA. Bellator 264 does provide us with one female bout, with former Invicta FC champion Pam Sorenson making her promotional debut against Roberta Samad. With UWC 28 airing live on UFC Fight Pass, let’s take a look at Jennifer Gonzalez Araneda vs. Diana Reyes as well.

Pam Sorenson vs. Roberta Samad (Bellator 264)

This is a fight I’m really look forward to. It’s not getting talked about very much but it should be. From a stylistic standpoint, this will be a really fun and intriguing fight.

Let’s start with Sorenson. She is one of the most underappreciated fighters in the sport. She is good on the feet, good on the ground and has great cardio. Sorenson is very capable wherever the fight goes. Let’s not forget she was also the Invicta FC featherweight champion before relinquishing the belt to sign with Bellator.


She brings an 8-3 record into this fight, most recently defeating Kaitlin Young. If you look at her three losses, they are to former UFC title challenger Felicia Spencer, a close split decision to Ediane Gomes and a split decision to Shanna Young in a fight I thought she won.

On the feet, this is a great match-up for Sorenson. Sorenson will be at a reach disadvantage, but she’s someone who is quite good against fighters with a longer reach. She is great at making her opponents extend their jab and then counters, comes over top of it, or even uses that as a chance to flurry. The way she does it is by having great footwork, great side-to-side movement and also throws very well moving backwards.

Sorenson is also quite good on the ground. I suspect in this fight, she’s not going to be as interested in going there unless she feels she can get the top position. She will look to draw out the jab out Samad. If Samad starts reaching, Sorenson will look to come over the top and land hard shots. As the fight goes on, I think you’ll see her rush in more and more as well. I don’t expect to see her do that right away, as Samad will look to clinch and take her down.

But as the fight goes on and Samad has less energy, that’s what we’ll see. Sorenson is not afraid of getting hit, she has a great chin. I think Sorenson has more power and accuracy, which will also help.

The other weapon for Sorenson will be her leg kicks. Those will serve two purposes. First off, it will help keep Samad at a distance Sorenson likes. As the fight goes on, if Sorenson is having success, Samad will become desperate for takedowns. Damaging the legs can help Sorenson to limit the explosiveness of shots by Samad.

Where Sorenson would probably prefer to not be is in the clinch. That’s not to say Sorenson is bad there, but I think that is where Samad holds an advantage. If Sorenson finds herself caught there, it is imperative that she get her underhooks. She will want to do that to turn and put Samad’s back to the cage and have control over what is going on.

Samad comes in at 5-1, defeating Moriel Charneski in May 2019 in her last fight. Samad is still hard to gauge in some respects. Her lone loss was a decision to Julia Budd and there is zero shame in that. But of her five wins, four have come against fighters who were 0-0 and then Charneski, who was 3-5 at the time. In this fight, she has a definite place where she can have success, but I’ll expand on that shortly.

First, let’s talk about the striking. One thing she does very well is she is not be a stationary target. Samad has good head movement which makes her harder to gauge and to hit. That will be important here, especially when Sorenson tries to flurry. But one thing she also does is reach on her straight punches. She will want to limit that. Overextending against someone like Sorenson is not good.

Samad has very nice low kicks, so I would like to see her make use of those here. The low kicks can be used to set up other punches. If Sorenson is focused on checking or avoiding kicks, Samad can have more success with her punches.

Eventually, Samad wants the clinch. This is why she doesn’t want to overextend on her straight punches. She will have the reach advantage and can absolutely punch her way in. If she gets the clinch, she should be able to get her underhooks and control the action. She can land knees and elbows.

From the clinch, she can decide what to do next. If she is having success, she can keep it there. She can hold Sorenson’s back to the cage and make her carry her weight. Her other option is she can take it down if she wants. She is good on the ground and can be very sneaky. Sorenson is good off her back and is capable of throwing up submission attempts, but Samad is active on top. If I am Samad, I look to get it to the ground.

Jennifer Gonzalez Araneda vs. Diana Reyes (UWC 28)

Araneda brings a 12-5 record into this fight, including a six-fight winning streak. Most recently she defeated Dana Grau with a first-round armbar under the Combate banner.

From a style standpoint, Araneda has the ideal opponent. If we are talking about striking, Araneda is a stalker. She will walk her opponent down, has good defense and can initiate or counter. Fighting against someone like Reyes who loops her punches and lowers her head, Araneda will have success on the feet. One thing she needs to be wary of is Reyes crashing forward. She is not the most technical, but has power.

Araneda has a nice overhand right. If she marches forward, she can make Reyes back up. Then she can land a jab once or twice and follow it with that overhand. It will do damage. Reyes wants nothing to do with the clinch or ground game of Araneda.

The clinch is where Araneda will want to take the fight though. She is very strong in the clinch, gets good control of her opponent’s body and puts them where she wants them. The one weakness she has comes when her opponent’s break free, and she leaves her hands low. But I don’t know that Reyes can break that clinch unless Araneda does it for her.

From the clinch, Araneda will look for the takedown. While she can have success on the feet, the ground is where she excels. Nine of her 12 wins are by submission. I expect her to work the clinch and maybe get Reyes’s mind off of defending takedowns. Then she will go for it. She’s not flashy or tricky with her takedowns. Once she gets it down, she is patient. She should be able to get the finish.

Reyes comes in at 6-5 with her most recent fight being a first-round loss to Silvana Gomez Juarez for LUX Fight League. Reyes is someone who has feasted on fighting lower-level opposition. Her opponents in her six wins have a combined record if 2-6. Her opponents in her five losses have a combined record of 30-8.

I can sum up what Reyes has to do in just three words, “make it ugly.” Reyes is not going to out-technique Araneda on the feet, and she can not be on the ground with her. Reyes needs to come forward and make it an ugly brawl. She has a wide looping right hand that looks like it hurts when it lands.

Reyes needs to avoid reaching, which is something she does quite a bit. Reaching with her punches opens her up to either the overhand right from Araneda and makes her more susceptible to the takedowns. Her other bad habit is lowering her head when punches are coming at her. This is something you will see newer fighters sometimes do, almost as if they are bracing themselves from the impact of a punch. This leaves her open to uppercuts. If she is in close, Reyes can possibly land looping shots.

If the fight gets into the clinch, her game plan needs to be exactly what it needs to be if the fight hits the ground. Hold on tight, avoid damage and try to stall and get a separation. Don’t try and be flashy or tricky. Just do what you have to do to get broken up.

That is it for this week. Enjoy the fights.