This weekend, all-female promotion Invicta Fighting Championships will put on their first event in Kansas. With a weekend free of UFC and Bellator events, a really strong card and the event being streamed for free on the Invicta website, chances are that this event will garner some attention. With women's MMA seemingly on the rise just now, I would like discuss whether a newly started organisation like Invicta has a chance of succeeding and whether such an organisation is preferable to a Zuffa run female MMA organisation.
Bellator Can Give Invicta Hope
While many MMA organisations have come with some fanfare and (gone with considerably less) over the years, there is one shining example of an organisation that seems to be successful and here to stay. Bellator put on their first event in 2009, promoting a unique tournament format. While they are certainly not challenging the UFC for MMA supremacy, they provide a refreshing alternative that many fans are grateful for.
Bellator's success can be attributed to two things. They have been sensible in signing talent, only singing people they can afford and otherwise building prospects up using their tournament format. Secondly, they have focussed very clearly on what makes them different, their tournaments.
For now Invicta will not be making too many marquee signings, especially since there aren't yet too many marquee names in WMMA. Headlined by Marloes Coenen and Romy Ruyssen and featuring a great mix of relevant fighters and prospects their first event shows that Invicta has made a solid start at putting together a roster. They are unique in that they are the only all female promotion in the US to be putting on such strong events. MMA fans have shown themselves to be interested in other organisations if they offer something different or interesting and Invicta will.
Sustained Divisions Will Maintain Interest
One of the major problems in women's MMA has been that the best competitors are scattered all around the world. This means that the best do not get to fight the best and it adds to the perception that there is a lack of depth. The lady behind the organisation, Shannon Knapp, has made it clear that she wants to use Invicta to build clear, sustainable divisions.
These divisions do not just create depth, they add interest. With sustained pools of fighters it is much easier to build up contenders for your champions and to make fights relevant to fans. It also gives fans a bit more insight into the abilities of the fighters as they see each athlete compete against plenty of different opponents.
Is Zuffa a Good Fit For WMMA?
Zuffa has given us a few reasons to believe that they are not the right organisation to take WMMA forward. This might well change, especially with Dana White admitting there might be something in women's MMA and Lorenzo Fertita an admitted fan. However, White has been pretty disparaging over the years about the depth of the women's divisions and seems to be more interested in promoting female super-fights than building divisions.
When promoting the massive Rousey versus Tate fight earlier this year, Strikeforce seemed much more interested in showing the fighters looking pretty than showing them fighting. Aside from the fact that this shows an irritatingly chauvinistic towards women fighting, I also do not feel it is reallt sustainable promotion. If people are going to be genuinely interested in what happens in female fights and female divisions, they will need to be interested in the girls as fighters and athletes.
That being said, Zuffa is the organisation with a great track record for building divisions. With the there four tiers of shows (FX, Fuel, Fox and pay-per-view) they generally do a good job of giving new divisions and new prospects a slot that will help build them up. With the Ultimate Fighter reality show they also have a great vehicle for injecting new talent into a division.
If Zuffa can market female fighting sensibly and really make sustainable divisions and keep the girls busy, they would be a great fit. That's just a big “if”.
I am a big fan of all MMA I can get my hands on and I'm generally frustrated by the fact that female MMA is always in such disarray. An all female promotion seems like a good way of going about building up the women's divisions but that's not to say that in the future those divisions should not feature along side men's divisions in the UFC.