Invicta’s Return Amazing Show

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It was a return eight months in the making, as well as a homecoming 12 years in the making. On Friday night, after not having held a show since the night of Game 1 in last year’s World Series, women’s MMA promotion Invicta Fighting Championships returned to live action for the first of five shows in 2024.

In the run-up to Invicta’s return, fans believed that the organization had disappeared forever. This couldn’t be further from the truth. On May 28, when Invicta FC 55 was announced for exactly one month later, Invicta President Shannon Knapp was a guest on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation channel’s MMA Today to reveal the true reason for the hiatus.

“We were fine-tuning the machine to be organized the way we wanted to move forward and that distribution deal,” Knapp mentioned the day of the Sirius XM appearance. “And now, we are ready to roll.” Subsequent to that appearance, Invicta revealed that they’d signed a media rights pact with CBS Sports Network.

Great First Show Back, Despite Early Hiccup

With the first show on CBS Sports Network set for June 28 at Memorial Hall from Kansas City, KS,  the big night came. It wasn’t without its (slight) problems, however.

The crew in the production truck outside the arena encountered technical difficulties preventing the YouTube and Facebook stream of the undercard going live from the start. As a makegood for missing the opening fight of the event live as it happened, the footage of the flyweight contest matching Violeta Mendoza (2-0 MMA, 1-0 Invicta FC) against Fallon Johnson (0-1 MMA, 0-1 Invicta) was run back later on in the stream after the featured prelim.

Mendoza scored a first-round TKO due to punches in that particular bout. Beyond that, the card went smoothly.

Entertaining Night Up and Down

Earlier on this week, MMA Sucka interviewed Shannon Knapp over a Zoom call to discuss the card. At the time, Knapp promised a great night of competitive violence in Kansas City.

“These women are skilled athletes,” she said on Wednesday. “They’re prepared, they’re committed, and when they step into the cage, they come to win.” By and large, Invicta FC 55 delivered.

Statistically speaking, Invicta FC 55 had three of its seven fights end by stoppage on the evening. While the knockout and submission wins get people talking on the likes of X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram, wins that go the distance are just as great to see.

Sometimes, a clinical performance in a fight is equally impressive as a win recorded by stoppage. You never know just what you’re going to see from one fight to the next. That’s what makes MMA great to watch.

Bernardo Defends Strap in Main Event

Highlighting Friday night’s activities was a battle for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship in the Invicta FC 55 main event. Champion Talita Bernardo (11-4 MMA, 4-0 Invicta) sought to retain her title against Bellator alumnae Olga Rubin (9-4 MMA, 2-2 Invicta).

During the second round of an advertised five, Bernardo locked in a rear-naked choke to remain the titleholder at 135 lbs. After the fight, Bernardo talked with analyst Megan Anderson about foretelling the finish to the title fight.

“A few days ago, I had a dream where I was using the rear-naked choke on this fight,” the champion began, through her translator. “My opponent knew that my jiu-jitsu was good, and I tried to do what I told in the [pre-fight] interview [that] I was going to do.”

Talita Bernardo’s performance on Friday night was a dream come true.

CBS Sports Network, Fans Real Winners

Although seven fighters walked out of Memorial Hall victorious on Friday night, the people watching the show at home are the true victors, as is Invicta’s new US linear TV partner CBS Sports Network. For Invicta to be back on a sports-centric network after having to air its cards on AXS TV is a major boost.

When Invicta aired on AXS TV, the promotion was the only sports organization it had rights to. At the core, AXS TV was and still is almost exclusively a music channel, save for a few hours when it airs programming from Impact! Wrestling in primetime.

Now that Invicta has settled into the CBS Sports family, the promotion can thrive for years to come. CBS has to be pleased with the product Invicta put out on Friday night. It’s only onward and upward from here.

If you missed Invicta FC 55 as it was happening live, you need not fret. CBS Sports Network is offering a replay of the show Saturday night at midnight ET/ 9 pm PT, as well as  this coming Friday night, July 5 at 10 pm ET/ 7 pm PT immediately following the network’s presentation of Arena Football.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Invicta FC 55 was an amazing night of combat sports action. Hats off to Shannon Knapp and her crew, as well as the fighters who walked into the cage.

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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.