Long before Shannon Knapp helped found Invicta FC, she was a mixed martial arts fan just like anybody else.
It was during those earliest days watching that sport that she was inspired to get involved because Knapp saw a lot of fundamental problems that needed to be fixed. Rather than sit on the sidelines complaining, Knapp decided to do something about it.
“Back in the day, we all used to b*tch, we’d sit on the couch and b*tch about how we didn’t think the athletes were being treated the way they should be or this or that, what we didn’t like,” Knapp told MMA Fighting. “One day the light comes on and you can sit there and b*tch or maybe you can get up and do something.”
This Friday at Invicta FC’s latest event titled Phoenix Series 3, the all-women’s fighting promotion will test out open scoring for the first time.
Open scoring involves the judges returning their scores after each round and the promotion will then pass that information along to the fighters, their broadcast team as well as post the scores on the big screens inside the arena for the audience in attendance. While open scoring has been used by promotions like GLORY with kickboxing, no major MMA organization has tested it in the United States but the Kansas Athletic Commission recently approved the measure to allow Invicta FC to test it during the upcoming show.
Invicta FC testing open scoring comes after their recent main event fight where Jinh Yu Frey defeated Ashley Cummins in a razor-close decision that many argued should have gone the other way. A day after that fight took place, Jon Jones earned a decision win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in Houston with many discerning voices saying the challenger should have won rather than the defending champion.
Open scoring obviously doesn’t change the result in a fight but it does allow the athletes to know what the judges are thinking when going into a crucial final round.
Knapp can’t say for certain if open scoring will have a dramatic effect in a positive or negative way but she at least wants to give the athletes at Invicta FC and the fans watching the events a chance to see how it works.
“During our event, the Friday night before, with Ashley Cummins and Jinh Yu Frey, there were some discussions between myself and the commission and afterwards they kind of pitched the open scoring,” Knappy explained. “I was like absolutely, we’ll try it. That’s the big deal. I think the system is flawed. Something has to be done. What is the answer? I don’t really know. Will this be the answer completely? I doubt it but I’m willing to give it a shot.
“To me, what it comes down to is giving the athletes more tools in their arsenal to see where they’re at. To adjust their arsenal, their game plan or whatever to change the way things are going if it’s in their favor or not in their favor. So I’m willing to try it. I think that’s the thing about it over here. I’m always willing to try something if it’s for the betterment of the sport or the betterment of the athlete. I commend the commission for giving the option. We’ll definitely try it and regroup and see what the athletes have to say and then make a decision within the company on whether we’ll continue with it or not.”
When it comes to the particular fight between Frey and Cummins, Knapp doesn’t know if open scoring would have necessarily changed the result but it’s a perfect example of an opportunity where a change in strategy could have been made going into the latter part of the contest.
“That argument right there is the reason I agreed to try it — would it have changed?” Knapp said. “Will it help the athlete? Let’s say the judging is completely bad, they’re completely off where we think they are — information is key, I always believe that.
“I think them having the choice and we’re going to do it in a way that their corners will determine what they want to know and have that information right there real time. They’ll be able to make that decision what information they want to have.”
While it wasn’t her promotion, Knapp saw the same argument regarding open scoring when the Jones vs. Reyes fight also ended in a somewhat controversial decision.
In the long run, the experiment could succeed or it may fail but Knapp at least wants to give it a shot to see how the athletes can use this information during a fight.
“I’m not in there fighting. I think the ones who are should be the ones to decide if this is something valuable to them,” Knapp said. “It’s not about the commission. It’s not about anything else other than what is happening to the athletes. I’m always pro athlete. I’m going to let them make the decision.
“I also want to hear what the fans say because at the end of the day, we’re providing entertainment value for them. I’ll listen to everybody.”
Former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway seems to be on the same page as Knapp when it comes to open scoring with MMA.
He plans on attending the Invicta FC card to see for himself how the process works. Whether or not that will turn him into a fan of open scoring remains to be seen but Holloway wants to at least see what it’s all about.
“Open scoring has been tested in boxing. Cool. MMA isn’t boxing my friends,” Holloway wrote on Instagram. “We don’t know for sure how it will work in MMA. And if it creates more problems than it fixes at least we finally have proof and can move on to the next idea.
“But maybe it works. Or maybe it creates new problems but we can fix those with new scoring and rules. I don’t know but nobody does. And that’s why we have to put down the bag of Cheetos now and do the work.”
View this post on Instagram
Seems like every fight week we got issues with fights going to decisions. I've met many judges. Most of them are good people just trying to do the right thing. I'm sure there's a bad guy here and there like any job but our problem is not the people judging... what about the system? Are we putting these judges in a position to do the best job possible? We can't just keep bashing judges and I realize that now. Nobody good is going to want to do the job. I've been in the UFC for 8 years. I've won 5 title fights in the UFC, and I've never met a fighter or even a judge who thinks the scoring system in MMA is perfect. So what are we going to do? We at that point. If all of us agree it's not perfect, what we going to do? What are we doing? What are we doing now? Are we just gonna keep tweeting at Dana every Saturday night like he don't got other headaches? What are we doing? The first step is to test ideas. And that's what I'm here for. Open scoring has been tested in boxing. Cool. MMA isn't boxing my friends. We don't know for sure how it will work in MMA. And if it creates more problems than it fixes at least we finally have proof and can move on to the next idea. But maybe it works. Or maybe it creates new problems but we can fix those with new scoring and rules. I don't know but nobody does. And that's why we have to put down the bag of Cheetos now and do the work. Mahalo to Kansas Athletic Commission, @invictafc , and all the athletes competing with open scoring for the first time on March 6. This sport started with men and now we have women putting their bodies and careers on the line to test an idea to keep pushing our sport forward. How badass is that? For any other commissions and regional promotions testing new ideas to help our sport let me know. Open scoring is just one idea that's easy to test. Many other ideas to test especially for how we score matches... I’m flying in to support and I’ll be handing out as much free merch as my team can bring from Hawaii
Invicta FC: Phoenix Series 3 takes place this Friday, March 6 with the event broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass starting at 8 p.m. ET.