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Shannon Knapp Opens Up on the Future of WMMA and Invicta Fight Championships: Fan’s Interview
As a kid, Shannon Knapp wanted to be a ninja, so it's only fitting that she found her way into the sport of mixed martial arts, which may be as close as it comes to being a ninja today. Not only has she been a part of the fastest growing sport in the world for more than a decade, she has helped to revolutionize where the sport is today. First through broadcasting, then as a matchmaker and now with Invicta Fighting Championships, Knapp has become one of the most respected figures in the sport. Along with partner, Janet Martin, Knapp has started Invicta FC, which will run their first show in April.
Knapp took time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about everything from her new promotion, how she got into the sport, who she thinks is the best fighter in women's MMA and what would be her dream fight.
She also talked about some of the problems facing WMMA today and how she hopes to help build awareness in WMMMA and build depth in their divisions.
"We're seeing a lot of lopsided matches, which is not good for our sport," Knapp said. "There are 125-pound girls fighting at 145 pounds, just to get a lot of exposure."
Another reason why the time to start this promotion came about was, "not knowing what was going to happen with the women." There was a lot of confusion and even more questions about the future of WMMA, which made Knapp realize the time was now.
Just listening to Knapp talk about the topic of WMMA and the sport in general shows how much she cares about the fighters. It shows how much she wants to see the sport continue to grow as a whole and she knows it's going to be a long process to get where she wants to be.
One of the biggest problems with WMMA and one of the arguments most naysayers will bring up about the sport is the lack of top stars. A simple look through on the message boards will show that many question whether there are enough women fighters in the sport to create a separate promotion. A lot of people think that WMMA is only about a certain few fighters. Of course, there are the stars like Miesha Tate, Cristiane Santos, Ronda Rousey, Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen and countless others, but the only reason why more fans don't know about Kaitlin Young, Amanda Nunes, Sarah D'Alelio and other up-and-comers in the sport is the lack of exposure.
That's where Invicta FC comes into the equation. Never before has a promotion attempted to bring WMMA to the forefront of the sport, at least until now. These women will have a chance to fight in their weight classes and receive great notoriety, attention, grow as a fighter and more importantly, earn the respect they deserve.
When asked about former Strikeforce champion, Cristiane Santos, and her failed drug test, Knapp responded candidly.
"It's very unfortunate of what happened to Cris," she said. "Cris is an amazing athlete and is really fighting hard to make her way back. We tested her every time she fought [in Strikeforce] and she never failed. "
Despite her recent struggles, Knapp knew she would end up getting heat for this, but still thinks Santos is the best women's fighter in the world.
"A year ago, I would undoubtedly say Cyborg. But even today, she's still the best. She has an instinct inside her that you don't find very often."
Santos was also mentioned by Knapp as a dream fight to hold in Invicta FC.
"My number one dream fight would be a rematch between Marloes [Coenen] and Cris [Santos]. Marloes has improved since they fought and is a stronger fighter now. Plus, Cris will tell you that she had never been hit harder than by Coenen."
I'm sure that is one fight that most MMA fans, male or female would pay to see when Santos returns from suspension and Invicta FC may be the place to see it happen.
Initially, the promotion has committed to four shows a year, one every three months, with Memorial Hall in Kansas City as the home for 2012. Staying in the Midwest will allow Knapp the chance to be hands-on for all the important matters in the promotion, which will guarantee the fans see what they are supposed to see.
Invicta FC1 will emanate from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Mo. The event will be headlined by the rematch between former Strikeforce champion, Coenen (19-5) and Romy Ruyssen (5-1). 10 other fights will also be held, including Jessica Penne vs. Lisa Ellis-Ward, Liz "Girl-Rilla" Carmouche vs. Ashleigh Curry and Kaitlin Young vs. Leslie Smith. Knapp couldn't announce where fans can watch the event just yet, but she promised several things. The event will be free to fans everywhere and will be professionally done in HD.
When starting a new venture like the one that Knapp is a part of, goals are essential. For Knapp and Invicta FC, at the one year point, the hope is that "everyone will want to see it so we can build that platform and support the girls."
For me, that's enough said. Now watch Invicta FC 1 and be a part of something new and different in the great sport of MMA.
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Hobson Lopes has been a fan of mixed martial arts since the days of Tank Abbott and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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