Thursday, February 23, 2012

Invicta Fighting Championships

Women’s MMA may finally have the launching pad it needs. New promotion Invicta Fighting Championships will hold its first card on April 28, and every single fighter on the 11-bout card is a female. It is headlined by former Strikeforce women’s 135-pound champion Marloes Coenen, and there’s loads of other talent on the card. Strikeforce veterans Liz Carmouche, Sarah D’Alelio, and Shana Nelson are fighting that night. Sarah Schneider, Leslie Smith, Jessica Penne, and Lisa Ellis-Ward had previously fought for Bellator. Kaitlin Young had been in the cage with Gina Carano in the Elite XC days, and Michelle Gutierrez was featured in the video game Supremacy MMA. What I’m getting at here is that Invicta has booked an impressive amount of marketable and talented female fighters to launch their promotion. This quote from longtime MMA industry executive and Invicta Vice President Shannon Knapp best sums up the promotion’s goal: “Invicta is committed to increasing the depth of the women’s field and building female superstars by providing women athletes with the opportunity to compete and hone their skills on a consistent basis throughout the year.”

So, personal hype aside, will this work? Two of Gina Carano’s Elite XC fights on CBS were watched by over five million people. Her fight with Cris “Cyborg” Santos attracted 856,000 viewers on Showtime, setting an MMA ratings record for the premium cable network. Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey have been getting quite a lot of attention going into their March 3 bout in Strikeforce. I’d go as far as saying that Tate vs. Rousey could be the fight that saves Strikeforce. There is a market for female fights out there. The VP of the promotion has held positions in the UFC, IFL, and Strikeforce prior to Invicta, so I think Knapp has the experience to find and target that market. Tachi Palace Fights became the haven for flyweight fighters before the UFC, and they gained a strong following for actively promoting the 125-pound division. There’s no reason why Invicta can’t do the same for female fighters. I hope everything comes together well and goes off without a hitch, because this is a great next step for women’s MMA.

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