Sometimes doing things the old fashioned way, with hard work and lots of man hours is the best route to success. On the MMA landscape, there really isn't a shortcut, as evidenced by the many promotions that tried to fast track their way to fame and glory with big budget pay-per-view shows that couldn't break even, much less make a profit. Their names are but a fading memory in the relatively short history of the sport.
Shannon Knapp believes that taking your time and doing things the old fashioned way is the right path to success, and so far, she's been doing an excellent job with her ever blossoming promotion, Invicta FC. Staying regional, keeping a small staff, outlining a budget and sticking to it, and forging good working relationships with other promotions for talent lending are just a few of the key ingredients that have given Invicta the recognition and staying power that other promotions have lacked.
I recently interviewed Shannon, who had plenty to say about the formula she follows to keep her organization running like a well oiled machine, ticket sales, and taking the growing pains in stride. Here's what she had to say:
Over here, we just keep trying to do the best that we can. We're not some huge organization, so anything we can be creative with, and we use what assets are available to us, definitely helps. I think there's been a big change in the way people view women competing in the sport. I think Ronda (Rousey) has made amazing steps forward for us, as well as we've made amazing steps forward for them. Every aspect of it has been extremely positive, so you'll get no complaints from me.
Talent exchange with the UFC
It's not really co-promotion so much as it is a good working relationship. Our goal, as I stated from the beginning, was to come in here, build a platform, increase the awareness, break down the barriers and give the athletes their opportunity. I think since the UFC ventured into adding females to their cards, we've become an asset to each other. I feel good about the relationship moving forward and it will be beneficial to all.
The girls can go back and forth between the two entities. We have Sarah Kaufman, and we would have had Amanda Nunes, but she had an injury. But yeah, the relationship is still intact, so if we can be of service, or vice versa, I'm sure that we'll continue to work together moving forward.
I've agreed to let my 135 pounders try out for The Ultimate Fighter. They have one weight division, and we have five. I don't mind helping them out, because it just continues to create opportunities and it is beneficial to both of us. It's all coming together and I just couldn't be happier.
Cris is an amazing athlete and I have a tremendous amount of faith in her, but really, either girl winning this fight is a win for us, so I look at it from that standpoint. I'm not one of those people that counts their chickens before the eggs hatch. I will say this, I've never seen anyone like her.
I'll just share this story with you. I was with Strikeforce when she was going to fight Gina Carano. Of course everybody wanted Gina to win, you know ... it just was what it was. So, I walked in to Gina's dressing room, and Randy and all the guys were sitting there, and Gina was doing her stretches. She was doing some pilates type stuff. It was a very calm atmosphere.
Then, I walk into Cris Cyborg's dressing room, and she is beating the hell out of Evangelista. I walked out of that room and into the Showtime office, and was like, 'Oh my gosh', [laughs]. She was on. I mean she was ON. Dana always says that Ronda is nasty. Cris Cyborg is tough as hell. There's no denying it.
That aggression, it's typical Chute Boxe.People always want to think that steroids gave her that aggressive nature. No, that's not it. It's from all those years at Chute Boxe. This is what she's used to. This is the type of training that she's done. This is about who she trained with.
She's an amazing athlete, and I don't have a single doubt that when she steps in that cage on Friday, she's going to remind the world exactly who she is. In my book, everybody deserves that second chance. Certainly I''m not an advocate for steroids by any stretch of the imagination, but I think she made a mistake. She paid for it, and now I will stand behind her.
Invicta and drug testing
You know, prior to Chris being added to the card, I had asked the commission to implement drug testing, and we made steps to move forward with that. With the addition of Cris, it was definitely something that we were going to do because it's better for her, it's better for us, it's better for the commission, so yeah, this will be our first event where the athletes will be tested. Some will be tested before weigh-ins, some will be tested before and after. We're doing our due diligence. We're trying to make a difference.
The landscape is so much different now than it was when Fighter Girls was on the Oxygen network. I'm going to make the right decisions that will be the best ones for the athletes in the promotion. I don't know where it's going to be. I can't really talk about that.
It's something I've been thinking about for a long time. We get hit up all the time. I guarantee you that every week, someone is calling about doing a reality series. I just haven't found something that I was interested in. I'm definitely not interested in The Ultimate Fighter format. It wouldn't be the athletes lining in a house together type thing. We'll just have to see how it goes.
Ticket Sales for Invicta FC 5
I think it's a combination of factors that have resulted in the rise in ticket sales. I've always said that we're a breath of fresh air in an industry that really needed a swift kick in the behind. The athletes and their fan support have done wonders. I'd have to say it's more the hype of the card than the venue change that has increased the ticket sales.
I just haven't had time to reflect on that, to be honest with you. I don't feel like I have the information that I should have and would need to have to make that kind of a decision. She's signed with someone else, and I never talk about other people's athletes in terms of them fighting for me, because I think that's disrespectful. With that being said, I'll be curious how everything works out with the commission. After this event, I will apply myself to get more educated about what's going on and try to make a decision from a more informed position.
You can follow Shannon via her Twitter, @ShanKnapp