Barb Honchak was the Invicta FC flyweight champion Thursday morning. By later that night, the belt was gone. And she said she only found out about it on Twitter.
Invicta announced Thursday evening at the Invicta FC 19 weigh-ins that Honchak was no longer flyweight champion and that the card's main event — interim champ Jennifer Maia vs. Roxanne Modafferi — would be for the undisputed title.
Honchak said no one from the promotion informed her that she would no longer be champion. She said she found out after an article was published on social media.
"I understand that Invicta would want to take the "interm" [sic] off the title since I have been out for an extended amount of time," Honchak wrote Friday on Sqor. "But, I would have like [sic] the opportunity to relinquish and I would have like to have known by means other than Twitter."
In an interview Friday with MMA Fighting, Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp said she thought Honchak knew she'd no longer be champ. Knapp said she had a conversation with Honchak's manager Ed Soares in June and thought it was mutually clear that the Invicta flyweight division would be moving on without Honchak.
"I'm surprised that she's surprised," Knapp said. "I think the bottom line is there's miscommunication. Where the miscommunications lie, I'm not 100 percent sure. ... Per that conversation [with Soares], I was under the impression that this was what was happening next, that Barb and him were on the same page and that the belt needed to move on.
"We were all under the impression that she was totally aware this was happening."
Honchak told MMA Fighting that if that was the understanding between Knapp and Soares, "I was left completely in the dark."
Soares told MMA Fighting on Friday afternoon that there was no such understanding between Honchak's team and Invicta. He said he spoke to Knapp in June, but nothing was hammered out. Soares said he contacted Knapp, because Honchak's contract was set to expire and he wanted to reach out to Invicta out of respect before deciding on her next move. Honchak was considering dropping down to strawweight to be in the UFC or stay at flyweight and go to Bellator.
"It's not that she doesn't want to defend the [Invicta] title," Soares said. "It has nothing to do with the Invicta title. The problem at that time was there were no contenders that Barb had not already fought. She fights for challenges, she doesn't fight for money. Fighting someone she has already beaten a second time wouldn't be the kind of challenge she wants."
Soares said the way he left it with Knapp was that Knapp was going to get back to him after checking with Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, about the situation. Soares said he didn't hear from Knapp after that conversation. He said he didn't reach back out to Knapp, because Honchak was still deciding on her future plans.
Knapp, meanwhile, said during that call she believed the two sides had come to an understanding.
"We didn't strip her of the title," Knapp said. "We were under the impression she forfeited the title. ... Certainly, we all like Barb. She's been out for almost two years now. We would never disrespect her. We're not even that kind of people over here. The matchmakers consider her a friend."
Knapp said Invicta matchmakers Julie Kedzie and Kaitlin Young have repeatedly reached out to Honchak during her time off and haven't gotten much of a response. Honchak has not fought since November 2014 for various reasons, including injuries.
"Per the conversation that I did have with her management, this was undeniably the next step of what we were doing, per what I walked away understanding," Knapp said, "and that Barb was completely, totally aware of this and this was part of what she wanted to do."
Soares said he has told Knapp that the matchmakers should not contact Honchak directly, that they should go through him first. He said Knapp's interpretation of events in this situation is not accurate.
"There was a miscommunication, but the miscommunication was on their part, not on our part," Soares said. ... "It probably wouldn't have even been a problem for her to relinquish the title, but she should have had the option to do it herself."
Knapp thought that is what was already done; Soares disagrees with that conclusion.
Honchak (10-2) is the clear top women's 125-pound fighter in the world. She won the Invicta title in 2013 and defended it twice. Honchak, 37, has not lost a fight since 2010. Her only two career losses came against Angela Magana and Cat Zingano, now Honchak's best friend and frequent training partner.
Soares said Honchak has yet to decide what her next move is.
"The only thing I feel like they can do is give a formal apology to Barb," Soares said.