Invicta FC has sold to Anthem Sports and Entertainment as the all-women’s MMA promotion will find a new broadcast home on AXS TV.
The promotion co-founded by MMA pioneer Shannon Knapp has featured dozens of top women’s fighters from around the globe with many eventually becoming champions or contenders in organizations such as the UFC and Bellator MMA. Previous Invicta champions include Cris Cyborg, Carla Esparza, Angela Hill, Michelle Waterson as well as numerous high-profile fighters such as current UFC two-division champion Amanda Nunes and current WWE Superstar Shayna Baszler.
“This is the first time with Invicta that I’ve had the opportunity to really make a decision based on what I feel is best for the athletes, the sport and then me. Pretty much in that order,” Knapp told MMA Fighting about the decision to sell to Anthem. “I had a moment to weight all of the options and there were multiple offers. I had broadcast offers, partnership offers, all kinds of different offers and I really wanted to take the time to really do the research. To really walk this thing through.
“Invicta has always been bigger than me and to have the resources that are available to me now. It’s just a game changer for the women and that’s what was important for me.”
Knapp will join Anthem’s executive as a senior member of the Sports Media Group and continue to lead Invicta FC in this new chapter. She will be working alongside former UFC executive Jamie Pollack as well as Ant Evans, who previously headed up public relations for the UFC as well as Frank Tanki, a former mainstay at Spike TV working with Bellator MMA.
Over the past few years, Anthem has made several high-profile purchases to add to the company’s profile including AXS TV, which was previously operated under Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban. Anthem also owns and operates Impact Wrestling, which also airs on AXS TV.
AXS TV has been a home to numerous fight promotions over the years including Legacy Fighting Alliance, CES MMA and Titan Fighting Championships while also working with professional wrestling outfits such as New Japan Pro Wrestling.
“They had all the pieces that I was missing,” Knapp said. “The infrastructure, the platforms, everything was already available. All of the pieces to the puzzle that could make Invicta even better and help take it to that next level, to help make it incredible. I did a lot of research on the owners and the people I’d be working with. Everything aligned. When it call came down to it, they were the perfect fit.”
Invicta FC first launched back in 2012 after the UFC purchased Strikeforce and Knapp along with Janet Martin decided to start their own fight promotion that would only feature women’s fights. The company has now held more than 40 events over the past nine years with Kansas City serving as the promotion’s base of operations.
In 2014, Invicta FC partnered with UFC Fight Pass for the streaming service to become the exclusive home to broadcast events. Invicta remained part of the UFC Fight Pass library until just recently when talks started to compete the sale to Anthem.
As part of the new broadcast plans for Invicta FC, events will air on AXS TV and Fight Network with plans to crossover to pay-per-view in the future as well. The deal also includes Invicta’s popular Phoenix fight series, which feature one night tournaments with several fights.
The first Invicta FC event under Anthem will take place on May 21 with plans for a title bout to headline the card that will air on AXS TV and Fight Network in Canada. The event will also be available online for fans outside of North America through AXS TV Now.
Knapp added that current plans including 16 plus shows per year now that Invicta FC is under the Anthem banner with expectations to expand the overall fighter roster as well.
“We’re ramping up,” Knapp said. “They’re very ambitious and they’re behind me. I walked them through for what I see for the future and what I’d like to do. They’re on board and they have ideas. There are new ideas and just working together to have that support system. It’s very exciting.”