Photo: Esther Lin / Invicta FC
Invicta FC kicks off at 8 p.m. ET tonight, marking an important moment in women's MMA as a promotion with clear vision and dedication puts on eleven high quality WMMA bouts. The show will feature some of the best talent in the sport including former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen, Liz Carmouche, Jessica Penne, Sarah D'Alelio and former Olympian, Randi Miller.
The show will stream live on Invicta's website, allowing everyone to check out this important moment in the sport's history.
Here's the full card:
Atomweight (105): Jessica Penne vs Lisa Ellis
Bantamweight (135): Liz Carmouche vs Ashleigh Curry
Bantamweight (135): Kaitlin Young vs Leslie Smith
Bantamweight (135): Sarah D'Alelio vs Vanessa Mariscal
Strawweight (115): Sally Krumdiack vs Sarah Schneider
Atomweight (105): Nicdali Rivera-Calanoc vs Amy Davis
Flyweight (125): Sarah Maloy vs Michele Gutierrez
Featherweight (145): Randi Miller vs Mollie Estes
Strawweight (115): Ashley Cummins vs Sofia Bagherdai
Atomweight (105): Cassie Rodish vs Meghan Wright
Previews after the jump...
The media has been all over Invicta, looking at it as a step forward that the sport needs. We ran an interview with Shannon Knapp, Invicta's promoter, back in March (when we also broke the news that the show would be streamed live) and she explained the promotion and why Invicta got started:
I've worked in this business forever and this is definitely something new, but it's also something I feel extremely passionate about. I've worked for the past 12 years with the boys, and I've always been a huge advocate for the sport and the athletes, and to be very honest, to the detriment of my own job. I've been threatened so many times, or reminded of who I worked for.When I parted ways with Strikeforce, I looked at what I wanted to do, and decided that I wanted to make a difference.
I'm definitely not that cookie cutter kind of person. I like to fight the fight. I started getting calls from girls that were scared, because nobody knew what was going to happen to Strikeforce. Were they going to stay around? Were they going to disappear? These girls were looking for some help. 12 years ago, for the men, it was not as much of a mess as it is today for the females. There is so much disorganization and lack of opportunity, so I looked at that, aligned myself with a good business partner and decided to roll up my sleeves and get in there to make a difference.
We're really excited, but we know it's not going to be a walk in the park. It's not going to be easy. You've got to build that awareness, that platform. You've got to make people want to watch. We're definitely in this for the long haul, though.
Like Rousey, Randi Miller won a bronze medalist in the 2008 Games. But while Rousey made the podium in judo, for Miller it was in wrestling.
"I think people are really excited to see her," says Knapp.
Part of the reason for that is, in the wake of Rousey's emergence, we're learning what an elite athlete can do even with little MMA experience. Another reason: The buildup of anticipation for Miller's debut has been building for quite a while. As early as 2010, she was slated to take on Hiroko Yamanaka, a veteran fighter who, despite being swarmed in 16 seconds last December by Cyborg (although the result was changed to a no contest after the Brazilian tested positive for steroids), would have been a tough test for a newcomer. Miller pulled out of the fight, saying she wasn't ready. Then the bout was rescheduled, and Randi ended up pulling out again.
"It was a humbling experience," Miller remembers. "As the fight grew closer, my preparation wasn't progressing well enough. It was a feeling I couldn't even remember, like when I first set foot in a wrestling room and was getting beat up."
Loretta Hunt also has a great article at Sports Illustrated about the history of all-female MMA promotions and talking about Jeff Osborne's all-women show back in 2001.
We'll have much more on Invicta including a live discussion and results post.