Arguably the biggest event in Invicta FC history takes place Friday night in Los Angeles.
It is a pivotal week for the all-women's MMA organization and much of it is hinging on featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Justino in the main event against Charmaine Tweet. Justino is Invicta's biggest star, but she also is not yet licensed to fight.
Because "Cyborg" failed a post-fight drug test in 2011 while competing for Strikeforce, she must pass out-of-competition drug tests in order to be cleared to compete in California. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) should get the results back from those tests this week.
Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp is "confident" the event will go off without a hitch and Justino will be fine.
"If you're asking me if I have someone as a replacement, I'm going to tell you absolutely 100 percent no," Knapp told MMAFighting.com. "You have to have faith in your athletes. She says she's clean. I've tested her many times. She's been randomly tested out of competition. I have no reason to doubt her words."
Knapp said Justino (12-1, 1 NC), one of the best women's fighters in the world, was randomly tested before a Muay Thai bout for Lion Fight in Las Vegas last year. She believes the 29-year-old star is past that point in her life where she messed up and took steroids.
"She's weathered many storms for her mistakes and I think it's certainly not a place she wants to go back to and go through again," Knapp said. "I think that she's very conscientious about what she puts into her body and doing the right thing.
"Look what happened. Every thing that she did came into question. It's always incredibly disappointing."
Justino has been bashed left and right for her past with performance-enhancing drugs by UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. The two will be in the same room Wednesday at open workouts inside UFC Gym in Torrance, Calif., that will feature both UFC and Invicta FC fighters. Perhaps not surprisingly, the two will be kept far away from each other -- "Cyborg" will go first for Invicta to start the day and Rousey will go last to finish it.
Knapp has followed the news, which has had a spat of high-profile positive drug tests lately. Anderson Silva, the greatest champion in UFC history, popped for anabolic steroid metabolites in out-of-competition testing last month. Silva spoke out about PED use in MMA as recently as December, saying someone who fails a test shouldn't fight anymore.
"It affects not only their careers, but it affects our sport and how it's viewed," Knapp said. "It can hurt other people and gives the user an unfair advantage. I'm always disappointed, extremely disappointed when someone says they're clean and they test positive.
"If you're cheating, you're going to get caught eventually. Whether it's because you got lazy and thought, 'Oh I beat the system a million times and I can still do it,' eventually you do get caught. For me it's always looking at the negativity that pushes into our sport. It's not healthy for our sport, anything like that."
Which is why, though she trusts Justino, she understands why her main event fighter has to be tested and cleared before stepping into the cage Friday night at Shrine Auditorium in Downtown LA.
"I think when you're in a situation that she's been in where she tested positive for a substance in that state, I think they're doing what they gotta do, the responsible thing to do," Justino said. "She has to go through a series of things to be able to compete. I get it. I understand it and of course support the commission."