For years, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White openly opposed women's mixed martial arts in his promotion.
The UFC's parent company, Zuffa LLC, inherited the division, however, with last year's purchase of Strikeforce. The women became the focal point of Strikeforce earlier this month when former judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey defeated Miesha Tate for the bantamweight championship. The competitors, who engaged in months of bad blood and arguments, headlined one of the promotion's cards on Showtime.
"All of women's MMA gets based on one fight because that's the fight that's getting exposure," Tate said before the fight. "It doesn't matter about the smaller fight cards, so there's added pressure in the fact that a lot is riding on our shoulders for the future of women's MMA, and how people see it and whether they respect it or not. So it's real important that we perform well."
Buoyed by the surge in popularity in women's MMA, a new promotion emerged on the national scene. Invicta Fight Club, a promotion built solely on women's MMA, will make its debut on April 28 in Kansas City, Kan.
Invicta, which had been in the works well before the Rousey-Tate bout, came about through the efforts of Shannon Knapp, who held numerous positions in various MMA companies, including a stint as a matchmaker in Strikeforce.
"When Zuffa came in and bought Strikeforce and I parted ways with them, I started getting a ton of phone calls from a lot of female athletes," said Knapp, Invicta's vice president. "... I think a lot of the female athletes were concerned. (They said,) 'What's going happen to us?' Nobody knew what was happening with the Showtime deal (with Strikeforce). Everybody was relying on those words that Dana had said publicly that there would be no women in the UFC and that kind of thing."
Knapp capitalized on the uncertainty and helped launch the new promotion. Invicta's largest challenge to its launch was the perceived lack of depth in women's MMA. With both Strikeforce and Bellator featuring competition, many of the top fighters are spread out. Knapp said she is working diligently to discover more talent and to organize a better distribution of weight classes.
"I can take all this information that I acquired over the years and try to build a platform and bring some organization to this side of the sport so that I can create depth," she said.
"... One of the biggest deals is there is a whole network of supporters for the female athletes in this sport. You don't hear it very often. You don't see them very often. Unless you're a supporter and an avid fan of it, you're not looking for it."
Invicta signed several notable women, including former Strikeforce champion Marloes Coenen -- who lost her title to Tate last year -- and former Strikeforce contender Liz Carmouche. Coenen will headline the inaugural event against Romy Ruyssen. Twelve bouts are already planned for the card.
Invicta plans two additional shows in 2012 and four shows in 2013. The inaugural card will be freely streamed live over the Internet at www.invictafc.com.
-- The winner of Bellator Fighting Championships' Season Five heavyweight tournament had to wait four months to be determined. An extra week could not hurt.
Eric Prindle -- kicked in the groin by Thiago Santos in the main event of Bellator 59 and unable to continue -- was sidelined by the flu last week. Their rematch from the first bout, a no-contest in November, was postponed to this week and will serve as the main event of Bellator 62.
The event, held at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas, will air live on MTV2 and EPIX at 8 p.m. EDT and on tape delay at 8 p.m. PDT.
The Season 6 lightweight tournament will round out the card. The quarterfinal matchups include: Patricky Freire vs. Lloyd Woodard; Rick Hawn vs. Ricardo Tirloni; J.J. Ambrose vs. Brent Weedman; and Thiago Michel vs. Rene Nazare.