Friday, Aug. 9, a day before the High Desert Brawl event at the Diamond Mountain Casino and Hotel, local fighter Autumn Norton debuted in her first professional bout in the Invicta Fighting Championships, an all women MMA league.
Norton, who is a striking specialist, fought Erin Harpe out of Tampa, Florida, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who specializes in ground and pounding her opponents.
The fight was a tough one for Norton, going all three five-minute rounds in the bantamweight class division. But Norton didn’t pull out the win, and instead lost in a close split decision to Harpe.
The first round was an even bout with both starting on their feet, exchanging blows. Norton’s strikes were definitely hitting their mark until Harpe went for the takedown to put Norton on her back.
Norton was able to maintain control on her back despite fighting an experienced brown belt in BJJ. She kept her defense up even as Harpe attempted to smother Norton’s stamina down.
This didn’t hinder Norton going into the second round. At the start of the second Norton had clearly decided that she needed to stand with her opponent to have a better chance at the win, and she did just that.
Norton found her mark a few times, using very technical and accurate strikes. Harpe took punishment the whole time from Norton in the second, getting nailed with a front kick to the abdomen followed by flurry of punches to rock her to the cage. Harpe was able to make a small stand against Norton at the cage wall, but the ring of the bell ended Norton’s dominating round.
The third round was a different story for Norton as Harpe looked for the chance to take Norton to the ground early and found her mark. Norton took some damage early on. While on her back, Harpe was shuffling to side control on Norton and dropped what appeared to be an unintentional, and illegal knee right to Norton’s nose, which caused her to bleed all over the mat and her opponent.
The injury did not stop Norton from being able to control the damage she was taking on her back. But Harpe was still able to keep Norton from standing and fighting from her advantage on her feet. When the bell rang it wasn’t clear who had really won. Both fighters had taken their fair share of damage but had both dealt out as well. That’s when the judge’s scorecards came down, with two scoring it 29-28 for Harpe and one judge splitting the decision 29-28 for Norton giving the win to Harpe.
Norton is not resting after such a close call, with a possible drop in weight class down to a flyweight at 125 lbs. Following the fight, Norton said, “It hurt a little bit, but I gained the attention of a lot of people. I’m going to get back to training, fix the holes, and I have to say I feel sorry for my next opponent.”