Hannibal Buress was already going to be heading to Phoenix for UFC Fight Night: Penn vs. Rodriguez in January. Then the well-known comedian saw on an online schedule that Invicta FC 21 was a day earlier in Kansas City.
“I thought, this would be a great MMA weekend,” Buress told MMA Fighting in a phone interview Friday.
Buress and his friends settled into the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City and took in what ended up being one of the best fight cards of the year in terms of action, regardless of promotion. All but two fights ended via big finish and Megan Anderson cemented herself as a top 145-pound force with a knockout of Charmaine Tweet.
And Buress, who is regarded as one of the best standup comics working today, was taken by the difference in atmosphere from UFC events.
“It was really fun,” Buress said. “I just enjoyed it. I’d been to a handful of UFC events. I just enjoyed how intimate it was at this one. It just had a different feel.
“Some of the fighters, after the fights, the fighters would just be sitting in the stands in their regular clothes. It was very laid back.”
Buress was kind of hooked. A few weeks after the event, he went on the Invicta website and contacted the promotion about sponsoring a fighter for the next event. After the Invicta 22 card came together, Buress started to do some research. He didn’t want one of the established main or co-main event fighters, or an athlete who was 0-0 or 1-0. He was hoping for something in the middle.
Buress, a Chicago native, went online and looked at fight videos. Something struck him about Janaisa Morandin, the undefeated Brazilian prospect.
“I looked at her highlights,” Buress said. “I saw she was undefeated and watched some clips and stuff. I liked the nickname ‘Evil Princess.’ The decision, it was thoughtful and impulsive at the same time.
“There wasn’t a lot of science to it. I just like to do different things and just have different experiences. I’ve done a bunch of different things in the business and this will be a new experience.”
Buress had an outfit designed for Morandin, a hilarious one with his face all over it and his website hannibalburess.com on the waist line, and is paying her sponsorship money. He declined to say how much.
Unfortunately, Morandin missed weight by 5.2 pounds Friday morning and her bout with top atomweight contender Jinh Yu Frey was in doubt as of Friday afternoon.
(Update: As of later Friday afternoon, the bout between Morandin and Frey was cancelled.)
Buress will be in attendance anyway. He’s flying out from Los Angeles to Kansas City on Saturday and plans to settle in for his second straight Invicta show.
Over the last few years, after being on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Buress has become quite the UFC fan. He has UFC Fight Pass and is a frequent attendee of UFC events. Buress is also an avid EA Sports UFC video game player. He said one day his cousin was beating him up in the game with Germaine de Randamie, now the UFC women’s featherweight champion, and he was able to go on Fight Pass and look at her old fights to see who she was.
“It’s a fascinating sport,” Buress said. “Fight Pass allows you to dig deep. You see somebody fight, you can kind of go back and see their old fights, see their style.”
Now, Buress is taking a part in the growing sport. And he has thought about dipping his toe into the MMA sponsorship world again.
“I think if I do it again, we’ll make things more subtle,” Buress said of the outfit. “But maybe my face all over the uniform distracts her opponent.”