With the Invicta FC debut in the books, and considered by most to be a success, Shannon Knapp isn't resting on her laurels. The organization, which is designed to solely promote women's MMA, garnered 250,000 viewers on Saturday night. Knapp recently stopped by TapouT Radio to discuss how the upstart promotion got off to a running start with only a skeleton crew of three people, and her plans for the next card, slated for July 28.
Stephie Daniels: Mike Afromowitz did a really good job of pushing Invicta to the media outlets and fans before this event ever went down. Were you happy with how it all turned out?
Shannon Knapp: I'm going to be honest. The staff that I had leading into this, and this is no joke, was myself, Janet Martin and Mike Afromowitz. We put this show together. Mike handled PR, I handled all the operational stuff, and Janet did the matchups. That was my staff. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.
Stephie Daniels: Are you finding it a difficult task to recruit quality talent for an all female card?
Shannon Knapp: To be honest, our next card is pretty much done. I didn't want to go out and announce the entire next card because I just didn't think that was a good standard to set, so we just announced the main event.
We've got some deals going down with some alliances and some partnerships in Japan, we've got some girls coming in from Brazil, and some from Norway and all over the world. We're going to bring them in and create this depth where it's been lacking. We're going to legitimize these weight classes and keep pushing forward in an effort to make a difference.
Stephie Daniels: Why did you post your phone number on Twitter?
Shannon Knapp: Sometimes I get bored, and I was getting tired of hearing myself talk [laughs]. I was like, 'Just give it a shot. Check my show out. I don't care if you don't like women's MMA. Just check it out, and then you can go and talk smack on the forums. Better yet, if you don't like it, you can text me and tell me what you don't like.' Not one person sent me a bad text. I got texts from around the world like, 'Hey I'm in Sweden watching' and things like that.
Stephie Daniels: I saw you tweeting in frustration about the mat. What was going on with the canvas?
Shannon Knapp: The thing is, it was the blame game. The guys that put it down said that the people that made the canvas screwed up. The the people that made the canvas said that the people that put it down screwed up. I don't really know what the real answer is, but I do know that it was jacked up.
The people that made the canvas are the same ones that do the UFC canvas, so it's a great company, so you kind of tend to lean the other direction with the blame.
Stephie Daniels: Towards the end of the show, you had an intermission period of sorts, that lasted about 15 minutes, but the only thing that showed on the screen was the Invicta FC logo. Will we maybe see fight footage of the girls on the card or a live interview with the the girls or yourself in the future?
Shannon Knapp: I thought that's what was happening, the fight footage being shown. In the arena, we weren't seeing the same thing you guys were seeing, so I actually didn't know that's what happened until now. You're the first one that's said that.
I really thought that there was some stuff that was being aired through the truck for the video feed. That will definitely change for the next show.
Stephie Daniels: What are the odds that we'll once again get a free stream, or was that our one time freebie?
Shannon Knapp: Oh no, it's not the only one. Until we find the right fit for us, and that's advantageous for the athletes and for the promotion itself, we're just going to keep doing what we're doing. We want everybody to have the opportunity to enjoy it, so as long as we can keep doing what we're doing.
I can assure you that I have not spent money like other promotions that have put on their first show. I am a miser, so I've kept the costs down. This next one, I'll have a better feel for it, and kind of fine tune it even more. Not skimping, by any stretch of the imagination, just not overspending.
I think we did really well on that end, as far as the production values and what was spent. I kept the staff at a minimum. I probably should have had a little more, and maybe I undercut there a bit, but again, I'm a miser and a micro-manager [laughs].
I do have to give props to Matt Lindland's wife, Angie, because she came in and helped a lot. I guess the best part about this, was that when fight week came, I had good, solid people, that were familiar in the fight business, helping out. We could all be real efficient and knock it out, and that's what we did. That's the best part right there. I will definitely say we were a shoestring crew.
Stephie Daniels: You tweeted that you handed out bonuses. Most first time organizations don't even consider bonuses. It seems that even through your budget cutting efforts, you didn't skimp on treating your fighters to some extra perks. What were the dollar amounts on the bonuses?
Shannon Knapp: We're not extremely wealthy, by any means, but we felt like they do deserve it, no matter what the level of our promotion is. We gave out $1500 a piece for fight of the night, and $1000 for submission of the night.
I also did a little Twitter contest that was not about increasing your numbers, but more about getting behind the promotion, and getting it out there. It's a little different than what the UFC does. Instead of just one, at $1000, there were two girls that just really knocked it out of the park, Liz Carmouche and Jessica Penne, so I gave them both $1000.
With Kaitlin Young and Leslie Smith going to a draw, I also gave them both their win bonuses, in addition to the fight of the night bonuses.
Stephie Daniels: Was there any negative feedback from the girls that were fined due to not making weight?
Shannon Knapp: I got a little bit of flack for the policies that I put into place, but here's the thing. At the end of the day, if they all want the same equality, to be respected, appreciated, and acknowledged, like the men are, then they have to adhere to the same guidelines. It just has to be that way.
Yes, the female anatomy is different, and metabolism and things like that, but as professional athletes, we have to learn to know about our bodies, and understand and identify where we need to be, and what's realistic for us. I think that putting the fines in place, and kind of helping them to be accountable, is also holding them to a higher level of professionalism.
Unfortunately, there were some issues where a few of the girls didn't make weight, but all the fights went off, within the three pound guideline of where they needed to be before a catchweight would have been necessary to implement.
Stephie Daniels: There seemed to be a bit of miscommunication among some of the various media outlets regarding your weigh-in process. Some were calling the soft weigh-in "revolutionary", when in reality, you didn't institute any changes to the process itself, just to the way you structured the fines for missing weight. What's your take on that?
Shannon Knapp: I've never minced any words when I say that I think ZUFFA runs an amazing promotion. They're very professional and very on top of everything. And this is one of the things that they do. When the fighters arrive at the hotel for an event, Burt (Watson) weighs everybody, to stay on top of what's going on.
Why not do that too? Especially when there have been so many criticisms of the females about making weight. Why wouldn't we step up and try to help them to help themselves to make sure that they were prepared and ready.
If they need help, we're going to be in there with them. We don't care if we've got to get in the sauna with them. We're going to be there. If we know where you're at, we can help you make the adjustments to get on target. This is the best way to do that.
We didn't re-invent anything. This is just a way that ZUFFA has done, and I picked it up from them. I'm sure other promotions do it, as well. I think that this was just a little foreign to people, actually hearing about it. It's just standard to have procedural guidelines like this in place to get a feel for where the athlete is.
Stephie Daniels: Have you gotten any complaints about the event?
Shannon Knapp: I've heard that were some complaints with the Liz Carmouche fight, about her opponent. I heard that people thought it was a mismatch. We actually got her opponent's name locally, from the commissions and gyms here, and she was said to have a really strong boxing background.
I didn't think it was a bad match-up. I just think that everybody has an off night, and maybe that was the case for her. Other than that, no complaints on the rest of the show. I didn't hear of any, except for that one.
Stephie Daniels: Have any of your peers from other organizations spoken to you or reached out to you about your debut?
Shannon Knapp: Joe Silva sent me some text messages, my old bosses from the IFL...someone I didn't hear from was Scott Coker [laughs]. Dana didn't text, but there was something left in my room from him and a mutual friend.
Stephie Daniels: Can I ask what it was?
Shannon Knapp: I feel like I'm telling something private, but it was flowers and balloons. It was really nice, just wishing me good luck. That meant a lot to me.
Everybody talks bad about him and says he's this or he's that, or that he doesn't like female fighting. Let me tell you, he's not what you think. Of all my past bosses, that's the guy that's really stepped up and supported me, and has said, 'Congratulations, I wish you the best.'
Follow Shannon via her Twitter, @ShanKnapp