In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a circus in town: a big, loud, obnoxious circus that ultimately will drain your wallet and leave you with nothing, except maybe some elephant crap on your shoes and the feeling of being cheated. For those who enjoy circuses, fine. Personally, I can live without the empty manufactured spectacle and prefer something with more substance. Unfortunately, the bombast has a way of overshadowing quality events that are less flashy.
The particular quality event in danger of being overlooked in this week of ridiculous hype is Invicta FC 24. Bellator 181 on Friday and UFC Fight Night 113 on Sunday will find their intended audiences despite the freakshow distraction currently on tour, but Invicta 24 might get lost in the shuffle. That would be a shame, since in its five years of existence Invicta Fighting Championships has consistently offered excellent women’s MMA events.
Part of the reason for Invicta’s quality might be the promotion’s overall philosophy. Back when it all started, Invicta owner Shannon Knapp said “Truly, honestly, and I know people think this is a crock of BS: We’re not in this to make money. We just want to be home to female athletes. We want to have a solid, solid promotion giving opportunity to each and every female athlete out there that wants an opportunity. As long as we can keep the lights on and provide the opportunities, we’re successful.” [SOURCE] Simply put, Invicta saw that female fighters needed a place to compete, and happily provides that for the betterment of the sport.
Not long after Invicta started, the UFC got involved in women’s MMA, putting the ladies on a larger stage than they had ever had before. A majority of the UFC’s female fighters had stints in Invicta before making it to the big show. That makes the current crop of prospects in Invicta eager to perform well and maybe earn a shot at the UFC themselves. No promotion is immune from the occasional boring fight, but in general, the women of Invicta have something to prove and go all out to do so.
Shannon Knapp discussing Invicta FC on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani
That brings us to Saturday’s fight card. There aren’t a lot of big names among the sixteen fighters scheduled. In fact half have three pro fights or fewer. The lack of star power is mostly due to Invicta being a victim of its own success. Once an Invicta fighter starts making waves, the UFC or Bellator come calling. The original main event for Invicta 24 was to be featherweight champ Megan Anderson vs. Helena Kolesnyk. That dropped off the card a month ago when Anderson signed to fight Christiane “Cyborg” Justino for the UFC 145-pound belt. Bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger replaced Anderson against Kolesnyk as the new Invicta 24 main event. Then just a bit over two weeks ago, Anderson dropped out of the Cyborg fight and was replaced by, you guessed it, Tonya Evinger. In a month, Invicta lost two scheduled main event fights and two champions.
Added to that, Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter started filming on Wednesday. The season features women’s flyweights, with the season winner to be crowned champion of the UFC’s newest division. The cast is still a secret, but rest assured that several of Invicta’s more established fighters were not available for Invicta 24 because they’re currently in the TUF house.
After all the juggling, Saturday’s main event will be Milena Dudieva (11-5) vs. Mara Romero Borella (10-4) at flyweight and the co-main features the popular Jinh Yu Frey (5-2) vs. Ashley Cummings (5-3) at atomweight. Further down the card, look for Sunna Davíðsdóttir and Miranda Maverick. Both are only 2-0 as pros but have looked impressive so far. Yes, there are lots of relative unknowns on the card, but five years in, Invicta has yet to disappoint. The fighters may be untested, but I’ve learned to trust the brand.
I may be a minority in today’s combat sports climate, but I dislike all the trash talking and posturing and prefer my fights in their purest form. So I’m not going to pay $100 to watch the circus next month. As much as possible, I’ve spent the past week studiously avoiding the pandemonium. Instead, whenever there is an Invicta event, I’m going to watch much better fights without the feeling that I’ve been cheated.
Barring any last minute hiccups, here’s the schedule:
Invicta FC 24, Scottish Rite Temple, Kansas City, MO
8 PM ET, live on UFC Fight Pass
- Flyweight: Milana Dudieva (11-5) vs. Mara Romero Borella (10-4, 1 NC)
- Atomweight: Jinh Yu Frey (5-2) vs. Ashley Cummins (5-3)
- Featherweight: Pam Sorenson (5-2) vs. Helena Kolesnyk (5-0, 1 NC)
- Flyweight: Karina Rodríguez (4-2) vs. Bárbara Acioly (4-0)
- Flyweight: Miranda Maverick (2-0) vs. Gabby Romero (2-1)
- Strawweight: Sunna Rannveig Davíðsdóttir (2-0) vs. Kelly D’Angelo (2-0)
- Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (2-0) vs. Amy Coleman (2-1)
- Strawweight: Mallory Martin (1-1) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-0)