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For Invicta FC President, Shannon Knapp, putting her organization on hold until further notice was probably not how she planned to celebrate the company’s eight-year anniversary. But for Knapp and so many other companies, the all-women’s professional mixed martial art organization, has cancelled upcoming events until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. “For me,” said Knapp. “It’s going to come down to, can I keep everybody healthy and ensure that to their families as well?”

And as the UFC will start back up their business this weekend and have talked about building a fight island in order to keep the ball rolling, it’s a little different for Knapp and those under her. “I’d love to be able to something like that,” explained Knapp. “And I have to be careful how I say this because I don’t want it to be taken negative in any way, or imply that what the UFC is doing is unsafe, but they are a whole different company with a whole lot more money and resources to take better steps to ensure the athletes are safe. It’s not taken off the table yet but once I can make a decision on keeping everyone safe, not only the athletes, it would take a case like that where I could ensure that everyone was safe.”

With eight years under her belt with Invicta FC and many more years in the sport before that, Knapp has always put the fighters first, and with everything going on now, is doing that more than ever. But if you asked her where she saw herself when starting the company, her answer may surprise you. “Didn’t have a clue,” said Knapp. “When we first started Invicta, and I know people laugh at me, but I had no absolutely no expectations. I said I want do this and I think I can make this work but who knows.” And as most businesses do, Knapp has seen her fair share of challenges but has prided herself in always coming out stronger on the other side. “There’s been changes and struggles,” explained Knapp. “And you dig deep, finish the task at hand and sometimes you forget to stop and enjoy it. You put your head down and then you look up after a while and say, whoa, it’s been eight years.”

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One of the challenges that Knapp and Invicta had to deal with early on was dealing with the media’s portrayal of them being a feeder league to the UFC as for a while, it seemed like her top talent was consistently joining the UFC’s roster. “People get that wrong,” said Knapp. “It’s not because we feed them, it’s because that’s what the athlete wants. I will never stand in front of an athlete’s journey. That was part of my commitment coming in, saying if that’s what you want, I support that.” And Knapp is proud of where her company started and still proud almost a decade later. “The fact that we’ve been able to keep the brand elevated when we had so much athlete turnover, says a lot about who we are and what we are.”

As Invicta FC has become the most recognizable brands in MMA and not just for women, the driving force behind that has been Knapp’s love for the sport and having the athlete’s best interest in mind. “I’ve always been a huge advocate for the sport and the athlete,” explained Knapp. “I’ve been in the sport a long time and that’s never changed.” As for what the future looks like for Invicta, they have an event scheduled for July 31st, but will keep an eye on that one making sure things are safe before confirming that one for sure.

And keeping in her style of always being one step ahead of the game, Knapp hinted at some big things coming up for the combat sports world. “I think there a lot of talent out there,” said Knapp. “And I’m working on something now that I think could be a game changer and not just in MMA, but in boxing and the world of jiu-jitsu.” And for those thinking of starting something new, especially in these hard times, Knapp’s advice is straight and to the point. “Push for the dream and chase it,” said Knapp. “I’ve always tried to be progressive with what I do and not be afraid to try something different. As long as it’s not taking away from the authenticity of the sport, you should try it.”

Photo credit: Dave Mandel/Invicta Fighting Championships.

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