With the success of Invicta FC and the buzz surrounding Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, there’s no denying that women’s MMA is at a high point.
Speaking with Invicta president Shannon Knapp about her company’s second outing in July, she feels that “the second show was even better than the first show (in April). I felt we improved on a lot of things from the first show that needed to be better.
“I know we had some struggles in the beginning underestimating the amount of traffic we’d have (for the live internet stream), the concurrent connection to our server crashed in the beginning, but we were able to recover from that. Overall it was incredibly successful; the fighters did amazing jobs that night and I thought the fights were as exciting as any out there.”
The company recently released the fight card for their third event, and according to Knapp, it could be even better than the two previous events.
“This is an exciting card for us because we’re having our first title match ever between Jewels champ Naho Sugiyama and Jessica Penne at atomweight (105 pounds),” said Knapp. “Honestly, this card is more stacked than the last card. I didn’t think I’d be able to say that, but it actually is from top to bottom with the athletes that are going to compete.”
Among the talent on Invicta 3 is longtime women’s MMA stalwart Tara LaRosa. Knapp feels that being able to give LaRosa more exposure after years of toiling at smaller shows is a big chance to pay things forward.
“I think Tara is an amazing athlete, and of course to be able to help any athlete to have an opportunity they may not have had before is very important to us,” said Knapp. “So yeah, it’s definitely great to have a pioneer like Tara on board. She was what we considered a little bit ahead of her time and it’s exciting to have her match up with Vanessa Porto.”
Outside her promotion, Knapp has seen the sport get even more attention thanks to Ronda Rousey. And while some are quick to discount Rousey for her attitude, Knapp feels that in the long run it can only help the sport to have such a polarizing figure at the forefront.
“I think Ronda is doing amazing things,” said Knapp. “She gets a lot of heat for the way she goes about it, but honestly, she’s bringing awareness, anything that’s positive is positive for the sport as a whole. She’s not only a very attractive girl, but she’s also a very talented girl. So any time the sport is being spotlighted in a positive light is a good thing, so kudos for her.”
Bringing things full circle, Knapp was asked if she feels Invicta 2 headliner Sara McMann could possibly move up to Strikeforce and challenge Rousey in what could be a landmark bout for women’s MMA by having two former Olympic medalists face each other in a championship bout.
“I think that Sara is an amazing, talented athlete as well, so I think that she could potentially be someone who could challenge Ronda,” said Knapp.
“The outcome of it, I have no idea, no clue, nor do I choose to pick who I think would win, but they’re both Olympians and can compete at the highest levels, so I definitely feel Sara could be a good opponent for Ronda in the future.”