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Invicta FC and Pancrase partner up, announce talent sharing agreement

Both Invicta FC and Pancrase are looking forward to exchanging fighters for their respective events.

Invicta Fighting Championships held Invicta FC 50 on Wednesday.

Invicta FC was known as a plucky upstart when it opened its doors back in 2012, signing independent talent from around the world to compete under its umbrella.

For the last few years, we’ve seen various talents get signed to the UFC after their contracts expire, or even granted releases to try out for The Ultimate Fighter series. Most will remember that we’ve also seen a portion of their strawweight division absorbed and featured on that very same series in the past, featuring notable standouts such as Tecia Torres, inaugural UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza, and current title challenger Rose Namajunas.

Now, a different sort of arrangement has been made, with a somewhat unlikely entity.

In a new press release, Invicta FC announced the formalization of an agreement with legendary Japanese promotion Pancrase, in which they will be sharing talent for their events. Invicta president Shannon Knapp offered her perspective regarding the agreement (from the release):

“It’s an honor to be able to partner with Pancrase, one of MMA’s most storied promotions,” said Invicta President Shannon Knapp. “In addition to all past and present ‘Kings and Queens of Pancrase,’ pioneers and contemporary stars alike have passed through the Pancrase organization at one time or another. Through our talent-sharing agreement, we hope to be able to capitalize on the wealth of female fighters being developed by both Invicta and Pancrase in a mutually beneficial way.”

Pancrase president Masakazu Sakai also offered thoughts on the agreement and what it can mean for both companies:

“From this partnership, the world’s best fighters from Invicta will get an opportunity to fight in Pancrase, and at the same time, Japanese fighters will get to experience fighting Invicta fighters that are at the world level. In addition, Japanese fighters would get a chance to fight in Invicta. This might open the door for fans in Japan to see Japanese fighters under the Invicta contract, such as Mizuki (Inoue) and Takayo Hashi to fight in Japan as well. Both Invicta FC and Pancrase are currently on UFC Fight Pass and by exchanging fighters we are looking to increase opportunities for fighters to compete more often.”

What this means for the divisions is still unclear, and perhaps to early to tell. While some fighters like Marloes Coenen, Colleen Schneider,and Julia Budd moved on to Bellator MMA (where Budd won the inaugural featherweight title), there was never any sort of overlap with the fighters - at least not in any official capacity. Ashley Cummins took a fight in Bellator last year after trying out for The Ultimate Fighter, then returned to the Invicta fold, while recent UFC signee Andrea Lee has been fighting for both Invicta and LFA (including a bout in GFA) since 2014.

Under the new agreement, we may see American (or other international non-Japanese) fighters cross over to Japan, or maybe even champion vs champion fights. Again, we will only find out about what exactly will happen with time.

Invicta’s next event is Invicta FC 26, and will be held on November 30th from the Park Theater in Las Vegas, NV. The only confirmed fight on the card so far will be Jennifer Maia vs Agnieszka Niedzwiedz for the Invicta flyweight title.

Pancrase’s next event is scheduled for October 22nd from Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.