It’s been just shy of a decade since Invicta FC held its first event. The promotion has gone through many phases since April 2012, and company president Shannon Knapp argues the best days are still ahead.

In a crowded MMA space, Invicta FC distinguished itself from the outset by building a roster solely of female fighters. Since then, it’s been a breeding ground for some of the top names in the sport.

The likes of former UFC champions Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes, Rose Namajunas, and Carla Esparza, as well as Cat Zingano, Michelle Waterson, Tecia Torres and countless other notables have passed through the Invicta FC cage, and Knapp thinks her organization has evolved into a fundamental piece of MMA’s foundation.

“I know that if Invicta FC doesn’t succeed, it hurts the sport,” Knapp told MMA Junkie. “I’ve always known that. I’ve known that Invicta is instrumental in pushing things forward and keeping the sport moving for the females, making sure they get fair pay and holding people’s feet to the flame in making sure they get treated well. I know that if we don’t exist, it’s a different landscape out there.”

Invicta FC will hold its 46th numbered event tonight, with Invicta FC 46 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. The entire event streams live on MMA Junkie’s YouTube page at 8 p.m. ET and is headlined by a flyweight championship bout between Karina Rodriguez (9-4) and Daiana Torquato (10-3).

Rose Namajunas (red) is among many notable UFC stars who’ve competed in Invicta FC.

Looking back at the early Invicta FC events, the name value is eye-popping. Some of the biggest stars of today gained experience and built their skills in Knapp’s promotion, but as time has worn on, the task of cultivating talent has become more difficult.

The UFC has purged large portions of Invicta FC’s roster on multiple occasions over the years as it attempted to build up its own women’s divisions. The likes of Bellator and PFL also have women’s weight classes, meaning the challenge of finding and building talent only becomes increasingly difficult.

Knapp thinks she’s positioned now better than ever to find, build and keep talent, though. Invicta FC has had several working partnerships over the years, from UFC Fight Pass and now Anthem Sports & Entertainment, which purchased the company in April 2021.

Karina Rodriguez hopes to get UFC call with title defense at Invicta FC 46: ‘I’d like to close my career there’

Video: Julie Kedzie previews Invicta FC 46: Rodriguez vs. Torquato 2 with MMA Junkie Radio

Knapp said the deal with Anthem has become a game changer. Knapp, who was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame this past weekend, argues everything she’s accomplished has been despite a series of limitations placed around her.

Anthem’s investment has opened up all kinds of doors, Knapp said, and she thinks she’s now in position to help the Invicta FC brand flourish like never before.

“The team at Anthem, they get it, they see it, and they support it,” Knapp said. “It’s the type of partnership I’ve never had and I’ve always dreamed of. I’m usually very selective in who I work with and who I bring in. I’ve probably missed some opportunities because of that, but at previous times I didn’t think people would see the vision and keep the athletes as the priority. Anthem has that same vision. They care about the athletes and want to make it the best for everyone involved.”

Knapp said her vision for Invicta FC goes well beyond putting on a fight card every few months and leaving it at that. She said she wants to expand the brand’s identity, and in her mind that means diving into different realms of the combat sports sphere.

“You never rest,” Knapp said. “I feel like there’s other combat sports I want to tackle. The dream is to launch, under the Invicta banner, to have all the different genres of combat and really help women move along overall in combat sports.”

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