Forget taking the bull by the horns, Auttumn Norton is taking her entire professional mixed martial arts career by the horns…. and she has no regrets in doing so.
The 25-year old fighter began competing in the amateur circuit in California back in 2012. Now seven years later and with record of 6-2 as an amateur, Norton makes the leap to the professional side of the sport where she will test the waters after a more than two year layoff from competition.
Norton is set to make her pro debut, taking on Erin Harpe (1-0) at Invicta FC 36, live on UFC Fight Pass.
So how does a fighter who hasn’t fought in over two years, earn the opportunity to compete and make their pro debut with a four-fight deal for a prestigious promotion such as Invicta, which will be broadcast around the globe via Fight Pass?
Now living in and training at Combat Sport and Fitness in Reno, Nevada, Norton says that she has remained active despite not having been able to fight.
“I stayed active on social media. I put it out there that I was training really hard again,” Norton said. “I was out for a while. I just recently quit my full time job, to train full time. I’ve had a few fights fall off in between them, probably about three or four fights. I was trying to be active but it just didn’t really work out that way.”
Norton was scheduled for a fight in June but as fate would have it, the fight did not come to fruition, and ultimately she now gets the opportunity on a bigger stage.
“My opponent took a fight a couple of weeks before our scheduled fight, and she got beat up pretty good, so she wasn’t able to fight me on that card,” Norton said.
Her path to combat sports came at an early age, eventually becoming a very important part of her life.
“When I was younger I was kind of rowdy. I was kind of a crazy kid. I have always been an athlete since I was about four or five years old, a pretty natural athlete. I always wanted to get into MMA. For a high school project I chose to present about MMA in front of the school board. Since then I’ve been in love with it, and I haven’t stopped yet,” she said.
While some fighters are content with just going out there and getting a win, Norton feels that is not enough. She wants to put on a show for the fans, a demonstration of sorts.
“I’m definitely a striker. I think it is just more fun, and that is what the people want to see. My grappling is high level too but people just want to see fighters go out there and strike. Nobody wants to see submissions I feel. It’s good to have that but striking is just more fun. It’s fun to put a show on for the people.”
Once a featherweight, Norton now competes 10-pounds lighter down at bantamweight, which is where the bout with Harpe will take place.
“I don’t like fighting tall girls all that much, only because I’m a shorter fighter. 135 (pounds) is definitely where I belong.”
While Harpe may already have a pro fight under her belt, she doesn’t have quite as much time in the sport as Norton does.
“She’s a very respectable grappler,” Norton said of her opponent. “She trains at a good gym. That’s all I really know,” she said.
Despite not knowing much about her opponent, Norton is completely fine with that. She has committed her entire life to making herself a better fighter, even giving up a full time job with benefits and a retirement plan so that she could spend more time in the gym.
“I was a corrections officer for five years. I tried to juggle training and working for a while but it just wasn’t working. I put in my two week notice and I moved over her to train full time and life is way better now.”
Despite not having a full time income, Norton said things are working out between sponsorships and a part-time weekend gig. Even though things are ok for her now financially, Norton questions whether she should have made the move sooner.
“I should have went pro earlier honestly. I had a few gaps in between fights and training and looking for a place to train. Right now, I’m at a seriously great gym, with people who are motivating, and there for me. My coach, he goes out of his way to make sure I have everything I need. It seems like the perfect time and I’m blessed to be where I am right now in life,” she said.
Norton’s beloved coach is Kelly Anundson, who appeared on the Ultimate Fighter season 19, and competed four times for Bellator MMA.
“He’s a really good guy, he’s a black belt under Ricardo Liborio, just a really good guy,” Norton said of Anundson.
Aside from her coach and teammates, Norton receives unlimited support from her girlfriend.
“She has seen one of my fights live,” Norton said. “She get nervous but she is really support, she really helps me out with everything. She’s my number one fan.”
Norton also wants to thank her sponsors which are helping make her dream a reality. They include: Diamond Mountain Casino, Pathway to Serenity, MW Tree Servies, Dusty’s Barbecue, and Family Made Maintenance. “I really appreciate all of them. They made all of this possible. I’m just happy to have the people I do in my life right now.”
Invicta FC 36 is headlined by Pam “Bam” Sorenson (7-3) and “The Striking Viking” Kaitlin Young (10-9-1) battling for the promotion’s featherweight championship. The title tilt sits atop a nine-fight card, taking place in Kansas City, Kan. on Friday, Aug. 9. Invicta FC 36 streams live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS at 7 p.m. CT.
The complete nine-fight card for Invicta FC 36 can be found below:
INVICTA FC 36
Featherweight Title Bout: Pam Sorenson vs. Kaitlin Young
Strawweight Bout: Janaisa Morandin vs. Emily Ducote
Atomweight Bout: Jessica Delboni vs. Lindsey VanZandt
Strawweight Bout: Kailin Curran vs. TBA
Flyweight Bout: Stephanie Geltmacher vs. Victoria Leonardo
Atomweight Bout: Alyse Anderson vs. Anastasia Nikolakakos
Flyweight Bout: Chantel Coates vs. Caitlin Sammons
Bantamweight Bout: Erin Harpe vs. Auttumn Norton
Bantamweight Bout: Megan Cawley vs. Julia Ottolino