Vacant A1 Combat Women’s Featherweight Championship Breakdown

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From time to time in MMA, fight fans will be witness to something that they would not ordinarily get to see on a fight night. Consider this Saturday night one of those times where fight fans can witness one of those rare moments in our sport.

While Urijah Faber‘s A1 Combat will play host to its second “Night of Champions” event in A1 Combat 15, the rarity comes in the first title fight of the evening. This has the potential to be an exciting night and an exciting fight.

Debuting Fighter Could Win Belt in First Pro Fight

You could see something truly noteworthy in the opening championship fight of the evening this Saturday. A fighter making her professional MMA debut could become the new A1 Combat Women’s Featherweight Champion of the World if she comes away victorious.

Debutante Joy Pendell (5-2 amateur MMA, professional and A1 Combat promotional debut) seeks to make the best first impression imaginable when she takes on Carlene Chandler (0-1 MMA, A1 Combat Promotional debut.) As per the contract’s terms, this bout is an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round to begin the quadrupleheader of action.

This is the second time that these two women have fought one another in the cage. In February of 2020, prior to the pandemic, Pendell scored a second-round knockout of Chandler in under two minutes during an amateur bout.

Fighter Comparison

Heading into the first title fight of the evening on Saturday, the debuting Joy Pendell stands as the taller contender in this contest at 5-foot-11, compared to Carlene Chandler’s 5-foot-9 frame. No reach information was accessible online at press time.

Pendell Turning Pro After Five Straight Wins

Joy Pendell enters her professional MMA debut having won her last five amateur bouts. Most recently, she scored a second-round knockout of Laurynn Garcia (4-3 amateur MMA) in March for a to close out that phase of her career as a fighter.

Luckily for the Pendell camp, their fighter has won two championships in her two previous fights, Last year, right before the Christmas holiday, she took the CAMO MMA (California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts) State Women’s Welterweight Championship with a unanimous decision win against then-current titleholder Julia Alonzo (2-1 amateur MMA) after three rounds of action.

Less than 24 hours after winning the strap, Pendell was a guest on The Tom Owens Show. During her appearance, Pendell talked about how the tide turned in her favor as the fight progressed.

“In the first round, from what I remember, it was on the feet,” Pendell said of the fight. “I don’t think it went to the ground in the first round, I think it was pretty much all on the feet, and, you know, some exchanges, but a lot of feeling out, and then, in the second round, I got her on the ground and I really thought that I was going to finish her. Like I said, anybody else, I would have finished for sure, but she just kept moving. Her corner was giving really good instruction, she was following the instructions, staying calm.”

After that victory, she won a lightweight championship vs. Garcia back in March. Pendell will be fighting in her third different weight class in as many bouts this weekend, as well as for her third championship in as many divisions.

Chandler Returns After Two Years Away

In the other corner, Carlene Chandler has only fought twice in her career, including one professional bout in August of 2021. That night, she sustained a third-round knockout (ground and pound shots) against Kayla Yontef (1-2 MMA) during Invicta FC 44. 

Chandler has had two fights canceled during her amateur days and has not set foot in the cage in almost 27 months, so ring rust could play a potential in this fight.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Given the relative inactivity of Carlene Chandler when compared to Joy Pendell’s regular schedule as a fighter throughout her amateur career, one would expect for the latter to win pretty handily over the weekend. However, nothing is easy in MMA.

That having been said, Chandler is a fairly decent grappler with a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, so it could be a decent fight.

Look for Pendell to Attack

Joy Pendell is known to get the job done with her fists. In looking at the tape of the second round of her fight against Garcia, she’s a pretty tough customer at the shop.

After jettisoning a couple of submission attempts, she softened Garcia up for what was intended to be an attempt at an armbar. Her punches were too powerful to allow Garcia to adequately defend against her efforts, scoring the knockout with 33 seconds remaining.

Watch for Chandler to Be Aggressive on the Ground

In the other corner, Carlene Chandler’s grappling prowess could tell the story here. During a no-GI match vs. Jonna Wood in 2021, Chandler put her in the clinch right away and tried to drive her down to the mat. About 30 seconds in Chandler dumped Wood, but it was after the second takedown where she really went to work.

It was all over but the shouting soon after that, with Chandler locking up a submission to advance in the tournament in just over a minute.

Final Thoughts

While college football rules the roost this time of year (bowl games and lower-division playoffs are coming up, don’t forget), take a timeout from the pigskin on Saturday night and watch this fight. Don’t let these competitors’ records fool you: This one looks like it’s an awesome contest.

Prediction: Carlene Chandler by First-Round Submission. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.

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