A new business venture is supposed to be difficult. The new owners are supposed to be anxious or afraid of possible hard days ahead. They’re supposed to worry about whether how they are going to get people through their doors, or how to build their business, or ultimately, the potential of their bottom line.
Don’t tell that to Invicta FC‘s Shannon Knapp. If she’s nervous, anxious or worried about her new venture, she isn’t showing it.
Knapp, the former Strikeforce and IFL executive recently partnered with Janet Martin (formerly of Blackeye Promotions) to create Invicta, the first all-women’s MMA promotion in North America. Drawing on their years of experience in the business, Martin and Knapp have partnered to bring a face to women’s MMA; one where women have the exposure to perform on a grand stage and can participate at their ideal weight classes instead of taking bouts outside of their proper division just to get to fight.
Ever enthusiastic about the new challenge ahead, Fighters.com recently sat down with the effervescent Knapp where she discussed, among other things, how long the idea of Invicta had been out there and the importance of showing the strength behind the idea.
“I want to say eight or nine months, but the more I think about it, I’d say April, or the first part of May,” said Knapp of the organization’s inception. “I like to fight the fight, and when you’ve been around as long as I have in this business, you kind of get to that point where you’re doing the same and you think…ah you know, it’s the same thing, and gets cookie cutter.”
“It really started when Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, and I started getting a lot of calls, and a lot of panicked calls from the girls. Bottom line was nobody knew what was going to happen,” she continued before reflecting on the possibility of Strikeforce’s demise, a situation many felt may have led to the end of their support of women on the Zuffa platform.
“Everybody knew that if it did, the opportunity for females to stay under the Zuffa banner was almost certainly not going to happen, so the calls started coming in, and the girls were looking for some representation, though I’m not a manager,” explained Knapp. “I started looking at it, and kind of building the foundation and happened to meet my business partner (Martin) who had the same vision I had. We pooled finances between us, and now we’re off to the races.”
The end of the spring and beginning of what she hopes will be a marathon takes place on April 28 when Invicta’s first event emanates from the Memorial Hall in Kansas City. The venue is no stranger to fans looking to watch a fight with memories of numerous MMA events and nearly 40 years of professional wrestling shows packing its hallowed halls. Knapp knew, however, that an all-women’s organization would be an uphill climb. To prove to the world that Invicta was serious, they put long hours in to ensure they first came out with a statement.
“The card came together before we announced (Invicta),” Knapp stated. “I felt like it was a much stronger statement to come out and say you had a card ready than to come out and say ‘Hey come look at us we want to do this and this is our main event.’ We wanted to come out swinging by saying that this was our card. We did add one fight after the announcement (Cat Zingano vs. Anita Rodriguez) but I mean, we were there. When we came out, we came out hard and strong, and that’s what helped people look at us and say ‘Wow. They’re serious about this.’”
Still, there are naysayers Knapp says she has encountered, some of which believe it’s a bandwagon ploy.
“I keep getting the question asking if this happened because of the Miesha Tate/Ronda Rousey fight,” Knapp laughed. “If people thought this only took a month, they’re crazy! We’ve been working on this for a really long time. It just so happened that the stars or the heavens happened to shine on us, and while we were looking at announcing, all of that came together and it’s helped us a bit too.”
You can follow Knapp on Twitter @ShanKnapp and Invicta Fighting Championships too @InvictaFights. You can also “Like” Invicta Fighting Championships on Facebook by clicking here. Invicta FC 1 boasts a number of the top female fighters in MMA today including action from Marloes Coenen, Liz Carmouche, Jessica Penne, Lisa Ellis-Ward, Cat Zingano, and more.