Interview with Shannon Knapp Ahead of Invicta FC 55

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Fight week is always a busy time for any promotion, regardless of who it is. For Invicta Fighting Championships, this fight week has special meaning. Friday night marks the first Invicta show of 2024 and the first in its new media deal with CBS Sports Network.

Invicta and the Paramount Global-owned cabler reached a media deal earlier in June that will see all five shows from the women’s MMA promotion air on the channel this year, effective with Friday’s card. Save for the Nov. 6 event, Invicta will be seen in a Friday night timeslot at 9 pm ET/ 6 pm PT. An exact date has not yet been set for Invicta’s September card, Invicta FC 57.

For those interested in attending Invicta FC 55, this note: As of Wednesday afternoon, tickets were still available for the Friday night show in Kansas City, KS’ Memorial Hall, with more seating potentially becoming available if sales move briskly.

Knapp Pumped for Invicta Return

Invicta President Shannon Knapp took a few moments out of her busy schedule during the final days leading up to the show to speak with MMA Sucka.  In a Wednesday afternoon Zoom call, she said that it’s great to be back after eight months away.

“For me, it doesn’t matter which day of the week that we go,” Knapp began. “It just feels good to be doing shows. That’s what’s the most important.”

As previously mentioned, the lone event not to be held on a Friday night will be Invicta’s Nov. 6 show, a Wednesday night.

“Wednesdays are not bad,” Knapp said. “We were running [shows] on Wednesdays prior [to the CBS deal.]”

Expect a Great Main Event in Invicta FC 55

Friday’s card is headlined by the battle for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship in the main event of the evening. Champion Talita Bernardo (10-4 MMA, 3-0 Invicta) squares off against Olga Rubin (9-3 MMA, 2-1 Invicta for the strap. Knapp offered up her thoughts on the title fight at 135 lbs. and expects a dramatic 25 minutes (or less) of action.

“I think that matchup’s going to be extremely exciting,” she said. “First of all, anytime that that Invicta belt is on the line, it’s always a recipe for a very entertaining, exciting matchup. I’ve never seen athletes get in there and not fight hard for that belt. I think Talita’s got to solidify why she has the belt, and I’m pretty sure Olga’s coming into try to take it. That’s the perfect recipe for a great, great bout, in my opinion.”

“I think they both respect each other,” she continued. “One wants what the other’s got and the other wants to keep what she’s got. It’s going to be a good fight, for sure.”

First CBS Sports Network Show Looms Friday

As previously mentioned, Invicta FC 55 is the first card to air on CBS Sports Network, the US rightsholder for select CFL games. For Shannon Knapp, this media deal is about getting more eyes on the product.

“One of the best things that I think about is the opportunity to connect with fans that maybe don’t know who we are and haven’t had the opportunity to see an Invicta event,” she said. “I love that, knowing that we will get that exposure, and then, they’ve been incredible to work with so far. Anytime that you have a live sporting event that can be connected with an actual sports channel, I think that it’s just the best thing for everybody.”

While no shoulder programming around the fights will air ahead of Friday’s show, she said that Invicta FC 55 is getting promoted on the network’s ticker and shoulder programming on CBS Sports Network is a topic of discussion for future events.

Invicta FC 55 Has A Bit of Everything

Knapp mentioned that there are great fights and fighters up and down the card on Friday night.

“I feel like every time one of these athletes steps into that Invicta cage, they come prepared, they come to fight, they come to win,” she said. “I think that is the recipe for making each and every one of these bouts stand out. They’re very connected to what they’re doing. They’ve been fighting just to get the opportunity, so I can’t pick one [singular fight.] I’m going to tell you that you’re not going to want to miss any of them.”

“These women are skilled athletes”, she continued. “They’re prepared, they’re committed, and when they step into that cage, they’re coming to win. I think they’re all going to put on amazing performances. It’s not just this show, it’s every show. I think that is what Invicta’s known for, the matchups that we do and just the entertainment.”

The Homecoming

12 years ago, when Invicta FC began its promotional life, it did so with a card from Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. Friday’s Invicta FC 55 marks a return visit to the city and venue. Knapp discussed the trip back to where it all began for the promotion.

“It’s lovely,” she said. “I’m not going to lie, it’s great. It’s great to be back and to see how excited the people are that we’re back. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, connecting the fans with the athletes and garnering that support they deserve.”

She predicts a bright future for women’s athletics in the community.

“Kansas City is already kind of a hotbed,” she said. “We have the only female [soccer-specific] stadium [for the NWSL‘s Kansas City Current]. I think that it continues to grow and I think that the Kansas City fans continue to prove that they love sports and this is the place you want to be.

Invicta Part of Movement in Women’s Sports

This past winter, college basketball fans were captivated by former University of Iowa point guard Caitlin Clark‘s pursuit of the NCAA Division I career points record and her club’s road to the Women’s Final Four in Cleveland. Clark has continued to move the needle in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever being featured on national television 36 times this year.

Knapp says that her organization is proud to be part of the ongoing movement to make women’s sports more popular.

“I think we’re all doing everything we can when it comes to female sports,” she said. “We all still have work to do to break down those barriers and build those audiences. I look over at Caitlin Clark and give her the nod, look at her as a tag-team partner because we’re all striving and thriving for the same thing.”

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.