Pam Sorenson is one of the most talked about female featherweight fighter today. The Cellar fight and fitness product currently holds a record of 7-2 and at the present moment is riding an impressive e 2 fight win streak which includes wins over super prospect, and formerly undefeated, Helen Kolesnyk. Sorenson also holds a win over UFC flyweight champion Nicco Montano. Ahead of her next move the featherweight contender took time off to answer a few questions.
What are your thoughts on being called out by Cyborg? Are you ready for her?
How did your journey as an athlete begin?
I’ve always been active and athletic. I started playing soccer before kindergarten, and later picked up volleyball, cross-country running and cross-country skiing. I continued to run marathons and actively compete in skiing into my early 20’s, where I got caught up with school and life and kind of let myself go. Once I decided it was time to get back into shape I stumbled across an ad for cardio kickboxing, went to my first class that weekend and fell in love with it.
When you look behind and realize that this is how far you have made, how does it feel?
It feels pretty good! I’ve sacrificed a lot and put a lot of hard work, time and money into my training and it’s very rewarding to see it pay off. It makes it a bit easier to always be missing out on social time with friends and family.
What according to you is your greatest achievement?
I think just getting to where I’m at now is my greatest achievement. I went from a chubby, out of shape lady looking to lose some weight to fighting for the biggest and best all-women’s MMA promotion there is and getting called out by the most dominant female fighter on the planet!
Did people around you support the decision of taking this sport as a career?
Yes, especially my family. They have helped me out so much and I for sure wouldn’t be at the level I am now if it wasn’t for their support.
An opinion which comes out again and again is that MMA isn’t meant for women. As someone who practices MMA and has many fans, what are your thoughts on the thoughts of people who refuse to accept that women too can fight?
I think those people are very old-fashioned and perhaps even just sexist. This isn’t the olden days where women just sat at home and did chores. I’ve run into a few of these people from time to time at the gym and I just refuse to acknowledge them. To me, they’re not worth the time and effort to argue with or try to change their outlook; the ones I’ve met aren’t the most pleasant people to begin with.
You have been a part of MMA for some time now. What are your thoughts on the evolution of women MMA?
I think it’s just fantastic how far women’s MMA has come in a relatively short amount of time. I remember making my amateur MMA debut and it was the first female fight that particular promotion had. Nowadays, promotions realize that people WANT to see women fight and it’s absolutely beneficial to their business to have at least one (if not more) female fight on every card.
Do you think that women MMA fighters have cemented their spot in the main stream media?
Absolutely, Women’s MMA is still young and there are already many who have made themselves household names.
Did you ever find it difficult to get recognition in MMA world because of being a woman?
Sometimes, there are definitely times that I’ve felt my opinion is not worth as much to some people simply because I’m a female in a male-dominated sport. But I’m kind of past the point of letting it get to me… If you don’t want to hear what I have to say because I’m a woman, quite frankly I don’t want to waste my time talking to you anyways J
What do you think will be the challenges for the upcoming generation of women fighters?
Well I think right now is a great time to get into the sport, there’s plenty of really great opportunities for women right now. But I hope the new generation of women are just cautious about who they surround themselves by and realize that not everybody is looking out for their best interests whether it be coaches, promoters, managers, training partners or whoever. There’s lots of selfish, greedy bastards out there!
Whom do you think are the top 5 greatest women MMA fighters of all time, women who have not only given exemplary performance in their fights but have also helped in the growth of the sport and have made it possible for women to have their place in some of the biggest MMA promotions? Why?
1-Gina Carano because she was the first big name in women’s MMA and got people interested. I think her role really opened the door for us all. 2-Ronda Rousey because she was able to put on such great and dominant performances that eventually persuaded Dana White to bring women into the UFC. 3-Shannon Knapp I think Invicta also played an instrumental role in the UFC starting the women’s division. It showed that the talent is out there for those who are willing to look for it. Shannon’s promotion has really given women MMA fighters a great platform to showcase their skills, give them exposure and she’s also been incredibly selfless in letting her stars move onto the UFC when called. Even though she’s not a fighter, she 100% deserves to be on the list for her contributions to women’s MMA. 4- Cris Cyborg! She’s been just a wrecking machine for the past decade. She’s fought for Invicta, Strikeforce and now the UFC and made herself a household name. And she’s now lobbying to get the women’s featherweight division going in the UFC. 5 – Kaitlin Young. I remember watching her fights when I was still an amateur. She’s also from Minnesota and trains at one of our neighbor gyms and I remembered being so inspired by her fights. Even though she’s stepped away from competing in MMA, she’s still very influential in recruiting and matchmaking both for Invicta, and I know she’s also been trying to grow Muay Thai in the US as well.
MMA is notoriously known for being a negative sport. Time and again athletes have quit the sport because of the draining negativity the sport has around it. Despite this you have always managed to stay positive. How? What is your message for people who find it difficult to deal with all of this?
I used to get pretty worked up by things I’d see online, or things I overheard people say. As I’ve gotten older, I really just care less about what people think and say. I just do my best to stay focused on myself and my career, and weed out anybody who might be toxic to my goals. For people who have a hard time dealing with it I’d say you have to learn to pick your battles. Not all of them are winnable, and even those that are might not be worth your time and effort.
Who are your top 5 opponents? What made them the best you have faced?
1-Ediane Gomes – the first round and a half of that fight just didn’t go the way I expected. She was so tough and well-rounded and really made me change up my game plan throughout the fight. 2-Helena Kolesnyk – This was more about the fight itself. After the Gomes fight, Tonya Evinger had told me that I need to stop fighting not to lose and start fighting to win. It was great advice and I thought about it before the fight started and went for the finish as soon as I saw the opportunity. 3-Nicco Montano – this was early in both of our careers when we were both bantamweights. It was a super close fight and I think we both made a lot of mistakes in that fight that we learned from. 4-Fernanda Araujo – She was my 2nd amateur fight and going into it, I had no clue that she was a judo black belt. I had a pretty decent clinch game and my plan was to clinch her, throw some knees and take her down. Go figure as soon as I went for the clinch I got tossed on my head. I had to find a way to work around that judo and I really took a lot away from that fight. 5-Jan Finney – I had certain things I had been working on leading up to this fight. She was a super tough opponent and I was frustrated that the opportunity for a finish never presented itself, but I think I learned more from going the distance with such a tough and experienced opponent.
You have moved up to the featherweight division. Do you plan on to stick to the division?
As of right now, I’m not sure. I’m a bit on the short side for the featherweight division. But at the same time, 135 has always been a really tough cut for me and I never felt fully recovered come fight time at that weight. I think working with a nutritionist has really helped me, back in November I had a fight at 140 and I made that weight without issue. I’m confident I could fight at 135 again, but it’s hard to drop back down with so many exciting things happening in the featherweight division.
Two of the largest MMA promotion today, Bellator and UFC, have a featherweight division. Which division do you think has more credibility? Why?
Bellator for sure. The UFC has a champion with no division at 145. They’re getting 135ers to go up in weight for super fights with the champ. Hopefully that will change, as I think she’s earned the right to fight women in her own weight class and not just be seen as a bully who beats up smaller women.
Featherweight division has been labeled as a division without any depth. What are your thoughts on this?
There’s talent out there, they just have to be willing to look for it. It is a smaller division though, and it makes it harder that Bellator took some of the top featherweights.
One of the most discussed topics in MMA today is fighter pay. What are your thoughts on the pay made by an average MMA fighter? What are your thoughts on fighter union? Will you join the union if given a chance?
I think MMA promotions act like businesses, because that’s what they are. It’s like any other job, if you want more you have to ask for more, not settle for the first offer made. The promotion is a business looking to make money, not lose it. And that goes along with my thoughts on a fighter union as well. It sounds great in theory, and maybe the biggest promotions can afford it. But I’d worry about the smaller promotions that would get sucked into it, they probably wouldn’t be able to afford what the union wants and they’d either go out of business, or they’d bring MMA back a decade and have cards full of crap fights and fighters who have no clue what’s going on.
What is your message to everyone who wants to take MMA as a career?
If you’re going to do it, you need to jump in and do it! You’re going to have to be prepared for weeks on end without hanging out with your friends, going out to dinner or the movies, and even family time when you’re in fight camp. It sucks and we all struggle with it from time to time, but in the end it’s very rewarding. Surround yourself with people who support you and are there for YOU, and don’t be afraid to kick those out of your circle who are not.
A message for your fans.
I always appreciate all of the support from my teammates, family, friends, sponsors and fans. I’m hoping this turns out to be a big year for me, and I can’t thank everyone enough for their continued support! I have to give a special thanks to my coaches and training partners at The Cellar gym, and my amazing sponsors; Musky Frenzy Lures, Locken Fitness, Forthright Fitness, Minnesota Motorsports, Therapy of Champions, Fighter Alias, Hayabusa combat, Bourbon and Bows Salon and Stars and Pipes Drain and Sewer Cleaning. This wouldn’t be possible without all of you and I’m hoping together we can make this the best year thus far!