Showtime interested in MMA return – and eyeing Invicta Fighting Championships


shannon-knapp-3.jpgShowtime might be interested in getting back in the MMA business, and if it is it may already have picked a top draft pick to partner with.

Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Stephen Espinoza earlier this week, according to a report from FOX News Latino, said the premium cable network would consider a return to broadcasting MMA – and likes Invicta Fighting Championships as a possible promotion to team up with.

Showtime most recently broadcast MMA in January with Strikeforce’s final card, which took place in Oklahoma City. After that, Strikeforce was folded into the UFC.

“The hesitation right now is really we’re investigating the market,” Espinoza told the site. “The real question is … given the TV landscape as it stands now, the MMA landscape, is there a demand for more MMA on television? I have my doubts because there’s quite a few hours already being programmed.”

The two major MMA promotions left in North America after Strikeforce’s departure are the UFC and Bellator. The UFC, starting in 2012, entered into a seven-year deal with the FOX family of networks. Bellator in January began its broadcast partnership with fellow Viacom property Spike TV.

In addition, World Series of Fighting just held its third event and has two more already scheduled. Invicta, an all-women’s promotion, will put on its sixth event in two weeks. Invicta FC 6 takes place July 13 at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Mo. The event airs on pay-per-view in North America, and international viewers can watch via an online pay-per-view stream, each for $14.95.

“(Invicta) knows how to make noise and do good-sized events on a budget,” Espinoza said.  “It would be interesting to see what they can do on a bigger platform.”

Invicta President Shannon Knapp on Saturday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) she’d welcome the opportunity if it came along. So far, Invicta has only been in the pay-per-view business, either via online stream or, like Invicta FC 6, a traditional televised pay-per-view.

“It’s an honor to hear Stephen speak so highly of the Invicta FC product,” Knapp told MMAjunkie.com. “I’ve worked with Showtime at length at different stages in my career in the MMA business, so I know how talented and committed to success their team is. They are first-rate at what they do, and I feel that a partnership between Showtime and Invicta FC would be a game-changer for our brand and women’s MMA.”

Espinoza has talked about Showtime returning to MMA in the past. When it already was known Strikeforce’s January event would be its last, the exec told MMAjunkie.com that partnering up with someone new would require a promotion that was ready to host events with the type of frequency that Strikeforce did.

“Going forward, we would have to be comfortable that whatever promoter or promoters we were going into business with that there is a sufficient talent base to put on the number of events that we were talking about,” Espinoza said in January.

So far, Invicta has been holding events about every three months since its debut in April 2012.

For the latest on Invicta FC 6, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Shannon Knapp)

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