In an extended interview with Jonathan Snowden, former IFL, UFC and Strikeforce executive and current President of Invicta Fighting Championship Shannon Knapp talked WMMA, Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, the UFC and more.
The entire Invicta Fighting Championships 2 card will stream for free on InvictaFC.com, Saturday night starting with the prelims at 7 p.m. ET.
Knapp's Invicta Fighting Championships debut, featuring Strikeforce fighters Liz Carmouche and Marloes Coenen, shocked the MMA world by attracting more than 200,000 fans for a free live stream of their first show in April.
"Those numbers—I was blown away. I never expected that. I called (the streaming) company up to go over everything with me. Just so I could believe it," Invicta president Shannon Knapp told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "It was way beyond my expectations. Was I impressed, excited and happy? Yeah, of course."
"I have Time Warner and I don't even get (HDnet Fights). We're trying to build a brand here. I can go out here, I can pay for my own filming, put it out there for free and I can build my brand everywhere in the world. Instead of the small amount of people who can see it on HDNet, everyone can see it."
"I want to go in and prove we're not a one-hit wonder. We're trying to capture people's attention. All I'm asking for is people just give us that one moment. Click on, take a look and see what it's about. I don't think if you're a fight fan, a true fight fan, that you can be gender biased. Because I can guarantee you, every one of my female fighters is coming to fight. They're skilled, they're talented and they deserve to be on this stage."
"Zuffa is not a partner in our promotion. Not one penny. This is me and my business partner's money. It's us and just us. That's it. And isn't that a beautiful thing to have happen? Two people making decisions and building an organization," Knapp said. "I hear everything. It only takes one person to create a seed and spread it. Dana White and I have a mutual respect. But he doesn't own Invicta. I've been asked this, even by potential broadcast partners. Does Zuffa? No. Does Lorenzo)? No. Does Dana? No. They didn't ask about Frank. What about Frank? No."
"I think Ronda's doing some great things. But it's a little scary sometimes when you put the success of a sport on one person's shoulders. What happens if, and I'm not saying this will happen, but what happens if Sarah Kaufman does come in and upset Ronda? What happens to every thing that has been built around her and laid on her shoulders?
"It's kind of scary. Look at what happened with Gina. She carried the weight of the sport on her shoulders. When she got upset by Cris look what happened. It's scary and makes me a little nervous."
"I won't take anything away from Ronda. I think she's as good an ambassador as anyone. I embrace what she's doing. I know she's trying. My only concern is whether it's fair to put all that weight on one athlete's shoulders.
"That's what bothers me a little. We build all this, put it all behind one person and let's say that person goes in there and they lose that fight. What does that do when we've put all the hype just on that one person? As far as the sport goes? Do fans say 'See, I knew these women sucked."
"We've sold Ronda as unbeatable. Now, what if Sarah Kaufman comes in and demolishes her? Oops. That was the face of female MMA. That's who the sport was being built on. Now what? What do we do with it? There are many faces of women's MMA. And when you watch our event you'll get to see each and every one of them."
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