Shannon Knapp: “Invicta is Changing the Mentality, the Stereotype”

When Invicta Fighting Championship has it’s 3rd live all-female MMA event live from Kansas City, Kansas’ Memorial Hall, they will crown the promotion’s first ever champion. Invicta FC 3’s main event on Saturday, October 6 is Jessica Penne vs. Naho Sugiyama for the Invicta Women’s Atomweight Title.  And like the first two Invicta fight cards, this will also live stream for free, starting at 7pm ET/4pm PT on InvictaFC.com.

Invicta FC 3 features a six-bout preliminary card and an eight-fight main event card.  Invicta FC CEO, Shannon Knapp, joined the MMA Fight Corner on Wednesday night to discuss the upcoming event and explain some of the adversity that’s been overcome to deliver a stacked fight card and make it one that’s stays true to advancing women in MMA.

Fighting out of New Jersey, submission expert Tara LaRosa (21-2, MMA) makes her debut for Invicta and will face Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Vanessa Porto (14-5) of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  LaRosa’s last win was an armbar submission in RFA 2. She got her opponent to tap with one second remaining in the fight.  Shannon said seeking out Tara to get her to fight under the Invicta banner was a no-brainer.

“I’ve known Tara for years. So, for me, it was gratifying on many different levels. Number one because she’s a phenomenal athlete and pioneering the sport and we’re kind of pioneering the way,” Knapp said. “But also, she’s a character inside and outside of the cage. We’re real excited and I think the matchup between her and Vanessa Porto is a really good matchup, so I’m excited for that fight as well.”

Shannon Knapp agrees that Kaitlin Young and Leslie Smith may very well have become synonymous with Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin where killer fights are concerned with their bout that went the distance at Invicta’s inaugural event. The fight was declared a majority draw and the two are facing off again at Invicta 3.

The highly anticipated rematch came to fruition when Sarah Kaufman had to bow out of her fight against Kaitlin Young due to injury. With Smith and Young, Knapp thinks fans will see a fight just as exciting as the last.

“I think when this goes down, whoever walks away the winner from this has the bragging rights for sure. So, I think that kind of ups the ante for sure. I definitely think both girls are coming in this space thinking that I need to prove I won the last one too,” Knapp said. “I think that it’s going to deliver the same kind of fireworks it did the last time.”

With one champion sure to be crowned Saturday night, another title fight could be coming soon for the bantamweight division. Knapp originally announced to MMA Fight Corner that the winner of Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler (14-7, MMA) vs. Sarah “The Monster” D’Alelio (6-2, MMA) would take on Sara McMann for the bantamweight title. When McMann left to Strikeforce, it left the question of who would get to fight for the 135 title.

Shannon explained the co-main event, Baszler vs D’Alelio, will be a title eliminator. “Whoever wins the fight between Shayna and Sarah, will move onto that number one spot for title contention. Who they are going to go up against, we’ll see how everything plays out on Saturday night and we have a couple other options. But definitely, the one that’s victorious out of that matchup will move on to be the first challenger at the 135 pound division.”

Strikeforce: Melendez vs Healy’s cancelled event was also supposed to feature undefeated Cat Zingano (6-0, MMA) vs. Amanda Nunes. When the September 29th show was axed due to Gilbert Melendez’s injury, Knapp brought her fighters back to Invicta and offered them to fight on Saturday’s fight card. But, Nunes succumbed to injury and Zingano is now facing Raquel Pennington (3-1, MMA).

“It’s an interesting little twist in things,” Shannon stated. “We’re glad to have her back. This is Cat. She hasn’t competed for a little bit, this is her first time down at this weight. Raquel is moving right up the ranks, so I think it’s a good matchup. It’ll be interesting to see Cat fight at this weight and then Raquel’s coming off of a big win for her. I don’t know what to expect out of it, but I definitely think it’s going to be very competitive. You gotta understand, when they step into the cage here in Invicta, they’re pretty serious. They’ve got a lot to prove. It’s not just about the win, it’s breaking down a lot of barriers and they carry a lot of weight on their shoulders, but they always step up and deliver. So, I don’t expect anything less.”

At featherweight, Knapp is hoping the women impress in Invicta FC 3 so she can start taking a look at who’s in contention for a title shot at that weight class. Julia Budd (3-2, MMA) faces late replacement, Danielle West (4-3, MMA) after her original opponent, Elaina Maxwell was injured. Shannon was glad to see Budd look sharp in her Invicta FC 2 TKO win over Elina Nilsson and can’t wait to see what this fight delivers.

“I think we saw Julia back and on top of her game. I think Julia’s a tough competitor, so is Danielle she’s tough too. I don’t as much about Danielle, but one thing I’m going to give her mad props for and that is being ready to roll,” said Knapp. “It’s going to be interesting. Julia really impressed me and we’re looking for a title contender to go up against Marloes Coenen too, for the 145 pound. I think there’s going to be a lot of stuff that’s interesting on this fight card. However it all plays out, shakes out, will determine a lot of factors moving forward for 2013.”

Invicta FC 3 is definitely getting attention this time around – as is Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson (9-3, MMA) a Jackson-Winklejohn MMA product making her first start under the Invicta FC banner against Lacey “The Ladie” Schuckman (7-5, MMA) at atomweight. Waterson put out a video featuring Travis Browne, Jon Jones and Kyle Noke dressed as “ring boys” in scantily clad outfits which went viral on the internet. Knapp was absolutely ecstatic about the video and the support it showed her camp had for her debut.

“The most impressive thing in all of it was how her teammates and gym got behind her. They did the video with her. I thought that was amazing to have that community and family behind you is very impressive. And for Jon Jones, my hat’s off to him for putting on a speedo on and prancing around like a ring boy.”

The growth of Invicta FC has put Women’s MMA on the radar. It’s evident in the numbers their live stream has produced, the Twitter buzz and the support the organization garners. The promotion is happy to hold it’s third event at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, where it all started.

“I say it everyday. We’re very blessed over here. It’s like a community that has rallied. We’re the little engine that could and they pull us up and we’re incredibly grateful. We come into this space with good intentions. It’s all about making a difference and I think we’re doing it. I think we’re breaking down barriers everyday.”

In addition, Knapp also praised Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Ronda Rousey, for helping to put women on the map. “I see a lot of growth from Ronda and from Invicta. Just great growth has come from both sides. I think Invicta is changing the mentality, the stereotype. I think because we’re putting on great matchups, technically sound matchups, I think we’re breaking down old barriers of those fights that people have seen that were completely mismatched,” Shannon explained. “I think though, coming in here and putting on great matchups and getting these females in their right weight divisions, I think is making a lot of changes for this side of the sport. Everyday it’s getting better and that’s a fact.

“What’s exciting is yesterday I walk into the office here at the hotel and to take a look at that belt. I was like ‘Wow! We’re getting ready to crown’. And the growth has been just amazing I’ve been in the business now for 12 years, I’ve never seen anything like it. I have to say to myself everyday, wow you’re only on your third show – this is your third show.”

Weigh-Ins for the event will live stream on Friday, October 5 at 6pm ET/3pm PT on InvictaFC.com.  The fights will live stream on InvictaFC.com at 7pm ET/4pm PT on Saturday, October 6th.

Tickets for the 14-bout event, priced from $25, are on sale at Memorial Hall box office (913) 549-4853, online at Ticketmaster.com and InvictaFC.com and by phone at (800) 745-3000.

The entire card features:
Main card:
Jessica Penne vs Naho Sugiyama (1st Atomweight Title)
Shayna Baszler vs Sarah D’Alelio
Kaitlin Young vs Leslie Smith
Barb Honchak vs Aisling Daly
Tara LaRosa vs Vanessa Porto
Cat Zingano vs Raquel Pennington
Michelle Waterson vs Lacey Schuckman
Julia Budd vs Danielle West

Preliminary Card:
Carla Esparza vs Lynn Alvarez
Ashley Cummins vs Joanne Calderwood
Amy Davis vs Stephanie Frausto
Jessamyn Duke vs Marciea Allen
Tecia Torres vs Kaiyana Rain
Ediene Gomes vs Katalina Malungahu

Follow me on Twitter @HeidiFang Follow the show on Twitter @fightcorner

Your Turn To Talk

Your email address will not be published.