The news all WMMA fans have anticipated finally hit the media waves when Invicta FC announced their content partnership with the UFC. It was a move that had been rumored for more than a month, but remained unconfirmed until last night. In what has been confirmed to be a multi-year deal by Marshall Zelaznik, chief content officer for Fight Pass, Invicta will see multiple events yearly, with their first card to be announced in the very near future, and is expected to be in the latter part of summer.
Bloody Elbow spoke with organization president, Shannon Knapp, who answered questions about the deal making process and gave some information about what fans can expect from the promotion. Here's what she had to say:
Bloody Elbow: When did you know that Invicta on Fight Pass was a real possibility?
Shannon Knapp: We started our initial conversations somewhere near the end of March and it was in April when we started to move forward and hammer a deal out.
Bloody Elbow: Were there other options on the table, and if so, what were they?
Shannon Knapp: You know, we had some offers from other promotions to merge with them and that kind of thing. We were in initial talks, very early on, with other networks and we had offers from three promotions, but when we started communicating with the UFC about Invicta being on Fight Pass, those talks with other entities went no further on any level.
Bloody Elbow: In the last week or two, there's been a lot of rumblings around social media that Invicta was out of business. Is this announcement even more personally satisfying to you in light of that?
Shannon Knapp: You certainly take notice of those people that do support you and your efforts, believe in you, and know that you're in there in the trenches working hard for something that's going to be better for the athletes involved. You definitely remember those people.
I try to stay away from all the drama that you read about on the internet. The bottom line is that I'm comfortable knowing that every day I get up, I'm working hard. I don't stop because I'm passionate about it, I care about it. I'm not somebody that has had it easy throughout my life. I grew up poor and everything I have, I made for myself. I get what it feels like to need a fight, to need money. When the girls needed to take fights, I opened my doors for them. I let them fight. I don't want them to starve.
The new signees knew right off the bat that I was in the process of negotiating a new deal. I made it clear I didn't know how long it would be until I could get them on a card, so I told them they were welcome to not sign and wait for the new deal, or they could sign, and still stay active by taking other fights. I'm a straight shooter and I didn't want to hide anything from them.
Bloody Elbow: With this partnership, are the athletes fighting for Invicta exclusively, or for Invicta and the UFC? Will the athletes still be able to fight outside the organization? Will the UFC kind of want to be keeping a lid on your talent and making it exclusive?
Shannon Knapp: Now that we're on a large platform and have a solid, stable home, we know what's happening, so we shouldn't ever have a situation arise where they would need to fight elsewhere. We'll be having more shows and we'll make sure that our rosters are filled to what we can handle. I think that will eliminate the problems that we've had in the past.
Bloody Elbow: Would it be a contract stipulation?
Shannon Knapp: Our contracts are our contracts. I run the promotion. I own the promotion 100%. Our contracts don't have UFC outs and things like that. They never have.
Bloody Elbow: Will they be deemed UFC athletes?
Shannon Knapp: No, they are Invicta athletes.
Bloody Elbow: Was there ever a point where you were ready to just close up shop and quit?
Shannon Knapp: No. Not ever, not even once. That's giving up. It's throwing in the towel, and that's not even close to being in my nature.
Bloody Elbow: How big a factor in the negotiations was it for you to keep production control?
Shannon Knapp: It was never a factor. That part was never in question. We started the conversations with an idea and we built upon it and came to an agreement that was great for them and great for us.
Bloody Elbow: Is there going to be anything new that we can expect when Invicta launches on Fight Pass?
Shannon Knapp: You're going to see a lot of new faces and a lot of talent from all over the world. The biggest thing is you're going to see more frequency of our events.
Bloody Elbow: Is Julie Kedzie still going to be your matchmaker?
Shannon Knapp: Oh yes, and she'll be filling a commentary role, as well.
Bloody Elbow: You've been a longtime fan of Fedor, so what are your thoughts on his recent comments about women having no place in MMA?
Shannon Knapp: He's very traditional and very religious, and I can understand that old school view he has on it. Everybody has the right to their own opinion, and I don't hold his opinion against him. I mean, he's Fedor, come on [laughs].
You can follow Shannon via her Twitter account, @ShanKnapp