First, I recommend you read MMA Gospel’s Dan Griffin’s article first before you continue reading. The basis of this article is my response to it.
I will preface this by saying at first I wasn’t a supporter of an all female league. As much as I love the sport; I felt that doing it would pigeon hole it as being like the WNBA’s version of MMA. (Griffin called it a “gimmick” in his article; but does explain he doesn’t mean this as a slight to the promotion.) I am happy to say I was proven wrong by InvictaFC. If you didn’t see InvictaFC 1, you can find matches on Youtube. (I would highly recommend Kaitlin Young vs. Leslie Smith and Jessica Penne vs. Lisa Ward.)
I will admit that the women’s divisions aren’t as deep as the men. They probably will never be. InvictaFC’s mission, however, is to make sure the division continues to grow. Looking at card one versus card two, only five fighters are returning. This isn’t a mistake. The idea is to build the next stars of MMA and you can’t continually repeat the same fighters and not give those up and coming fighters a chance to aspire to what has become “their UFC”. Plus it gets boring if you see the same fighters over and over again. InvictaFC 3 is still coming in October for InvictaFC 1 fighters to return.
Part of Mr. Griffin’s argument is that they have pro debuting fighters and that those spot should be given to the fighters on Invicta 1. “That’s why local circuits exist”, is what he stated. The ability for a female to become a pro in a local promotion that’s pinching pennies is harder than you think. Many of those promoters will probably either fill the undercard with amateur females or give maybe one pro match. They also aren’t willing to bring someone from half way across the country to compete.
Many of the undercard fighters are very experienced in the amateur ranks and ready to make their mark than a lot of others they could have considered. Jess Philippus (7-1 ammy) and Liz McCarty (6-0 ammy) are a prime example. They are not drawing names out of the hat for these pro debuts; these fighters are the future of InvictaFC.
As for Mr. Griffin talk about multi-fight deals, President Shannon Knapp stated that we are expecting to sign several fighters; which will be announced post InvictaFC 2. The names she does have from Strikeforce and Bellator are helping in the short term to get people drawn into the product; and also gain InvictaFC legitimacy as a promotion. The main event has two fighters that are not signed to Strikeforce, but are the best unsigned talent in the bantamweight division. The winner gets in title connection and a good possibility of being the figurehead of the promotion.
InvictaFC 1 also saw breakout stars such as Leslie Smith and Kaitlin Young, who are also not signed to Strikeforce.
They are also bringing in international talent. Five different countries will be represented at InvictaFC 3. Getting that kind of talent will increase it to a global audience; which proved to be helpful in their first effort. InvictaFC 1 gained over 230,000 individual connections from around the world. Fans in multiple countries, including Brazil, Japan, Germany, and Australia, tuned in to watch the fights online. It is unheard of that a company has had more reach; with the exception of the UFC.
InvictaFC president Shannon Knapp has been at this a long time and has learned from the best; including UFC president Dana White. (FYI, Dana sent her a “congratulations” package before InvictaFC 1.) She has seen what has worked and what as failed. As much as Mr. Griffin complains, there is a method to her madness. (I also recommend he book Mrs. Knapp on his show before InvictaFC 3.)
Like Mr. Griffin stated, the tools are there for InvictaFC a success. To build a brand, however, they need to build talent while keeping people tuning in to the stars of the sport. InvictaFC has done that with their first card; and will do it with their second. And their third.