Ever since the UFC added a women's division led by champion Ronda Rousey there has been a noticeable increase in the attention paid to these female athletes. With continued demands to see Rousey versus Cyborg, a fight UFC president Dana White seems to be strongly against, and the announced plans for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter to introduce the women's 115 pound strawweight division to the promotion, it felt like a good time to sit down and ask Invicta president Shannon Knapp about the current state of the women's MMA.
Q: Dana White had some recent comments concerning Cristiane Justino where he seemed to be accusing her of still abusing PEDs. I didn't see a response from you anywhere, so is there anything you want to say about that?
She's still our champion and I think that says what I think about her. If I thought she was cheating she wouldn't be.
People are entitled to think what they want to and say what they want to, but I also believe people deserve second chances. And Cris deserves a second chance as much any other fighter that this happened to. Other fighters that failed tests are allowed to fight so I don't think she or anyone should be treated differently.
I've seen her tests. I've seen the results, her levels. She's been tested with us and she's passed, so I think she's clean. What's more can I say? I have enough confidence in her that she's my champion.
( Note: last week Christiane "Cyborg" Justino was also administered and passed a random drug test for performance enhancers and diuretics that was requested by Nevada's boxing commission.)
Q: Do you think Rousey vs Cyborg will get made? And if the UFC doesn't make it do you think that would be a big mistake?
That would be a huge fight. That would be huge. So if Cris can make weight there's no reason that fight can't be made. It should happen. It would be the biggest fight ever for women; it might be the biggest fight of the year men or women. It would just be huge. It's our Mayweather and Manny, our Fedor versus Couture again, but one that can and should be made.
Q: Any word on what the main event will be on the upcoming 8th and 9th shows?
Q: Are you worried at all about Invicta becoming or being viewed as a feeder/development league for the UFC?
You also have to understand something, when I came into this space as a promoter, my commitment was to build this sport out for the female athlete. If you look at what's happened, that's exactly what I'm doing. If that has led to the rosters over at the UFC, that's just breaking down barriers. The athletes that have moved over to the UFC has just validated what we are doing, and I don't think that's a bad thing,
If you think about this, the majority of those strawweights that are going to be on TUF, where did they come from? They came from Invicta. When they announced that how many times did Dana say Invicta and vaildate us, and say we're viable and that we're out there making a difference? It's a relationship that has benefited both.
Q So you're aren't worried about what the loss of all those strawweight fighters will have on Invicta?
They're entertaining the thought of bringing in the 115 pond division and I am so top heavy in the that division. And I have a ton of 115 pound femaile athletes that I need to get in and get moving in their careers, because they're the next generation. For me this worked out well. This didn't hurt me. I wouldn't have done anything that hurt Invicta.
Am I feeder? I'm never going to call myself a feeder. Because I view it as growing the sport.
Q Do you think they'll add any other divisions in the immediate future?
I think they're going to focus on that division and the 135 division for awhile. But I think people are understimating the strawweights.
Not only is there talent there, but there's also so many different personalities. That makes them very intriguing and very interesting. I think they're going to add a little kick to what's going at the UFC, i think they're really going to bring some value.