This Saturday night will mark the beginning of a new era for women's MMA. Invicta FC, the all female fight promotion, will make it's first foray into paid television programming, just 6 cards into it's life span. The promotion, headed up Shannon Knapp, has been making waves and leading the charge to give female fighters a place to call home for a little over a year, and has turned into a veritable juggernaut.
This weekend's event presents a stacked card, featuring a headlining fight between two powerhouse featherweights, Marloes Coenen and Cris 'Cyborg' Santos. The promotion will be featured on both cable and satellite as a PPV product, and will cost an ultra affordable $14.95 for a 13 fight card. In a time when sponsor money counts, being on a televised card could make a difference of thousands of dollars for these athletes.
I recently spoke to Knapp, and got her thoughts on the hot button topic du jour, fighter pay. Her customary eloquence shined through, as it always does, and we get a fresh take on a controversial, ongoing debate in the sport. One thing is certain, we haven't heard a peep from any of the Invicta athletes making complaints about their fight purses. Here's what she had to say on the subject:
In all fairness, we're just establishing what we consider the market value for the females in the sport. I've been dealing with this for years, with the men's side of the sport, and yeah, this is a tough gig. It's really hard to make a decent living in this sport, and it takes a lot of work.
If you fill a card with athletes that people are not familiar with, and you paid them over the market value, then you can never sell enough tickets or get enough views and purchases from PPV and things like that, to cover the fight card. That's a big deal. I get what they're saying.
I wish we could pay all the fighters more, because I'm a huge advocate for the athletes, but it still has to make good business sense. You can look at other companies in the past, and I've worked for several of them, and the ones that have over paid have gotten themselves into trouble with fighter purses.
I know it's never perfect, and I haven't looked at the UFC's finances or anything like that to even begin to make a comment, but I know those guys over there, and they do a lot of things for the fighters that people don't know about. They've helped people out that had no money for medical care, bonuses, and things like that. They do take care of their guys.
You know, I haven't looked at their pay scale lately, and I'm being very honest, so I feel like I'm not going to be able to comment on it intelligently. I don't even know what the guys are making now at that entry level. I do know one thing, and that it's an opportunity. What you do with it and how you perform can take you from 0-60 in a very short time.
I don't think it's a question of them trying to hurt their athletes, but is more a question of making business sense. There is such a thing as market value on all fighters, and that's something you have to look at. If you're in the business, you definitely have to look at the bottom line. I would love to see all the fighters get better pay, but I think we need to drive the sport forward to open the doors for those opportunities.
You can follow Shannon via her Twitter account, @ShanKnapp