Opinion: The Rise of Invicta Fighting Championships
By Jesse Heitz
On April 5th, women’s MMA takes another giant leap into the mainstream with Invicta FC 5. This once little-known MMA promotion that only features women fighters found its origins in the Zuffa purchase of Strikeforce, and the UFC’s subsequent absorption of the former’s talent. Fearing for the future of women’s future in the sport, given the UFC’s non-existent experience in promoting female MMA bouts, the world’s premier promotion in that field was born, and Invicta FC hasn’t looked back yet. Additionally, it has set a precedent or an unofficial standard of conduct that reinforces the professionalism of MMA.
Surprisingly, given the magnitude of this card, there’s been little hype, or rather trash talking, which is rather refreshing. If we’re being honest, I don’t mind trash talking in anticipation of a fight, but if it’s all the same, I’d be more than happy to settle for a great fight. There are certainly other forms of entertainment that I can indulge in if a good display of “jawing” is what I’m after. Regarding the lack of trash talking surrounding the Zoila Gurgel vs. Jennifer Maia fight, the 12-2 Gurgel stated in an interview with MMAjunkie.com that,
“Sometimes the drama does fuel me, but it’s only turned out negative if there’s any drama behind it. I’ve always been an aggressive person who always had a little attitude growing up, but it’s never been a favorite for me. I like to go in there without having any of that drama.”
“The losses, we all learn from them. I’ve made this mistake twice in taking the whole trash talk to another level. I need to just let it be and not let these girls get to me. Nobody really likes to lose, but I really hate to lose. So to come off that and have that feeling still lingering, it’s not a feeling I want to have again. I’ve prepared myself, mentally and physically, even more for this last one to go in there and leave it all in there.”
Also on this card Sarah Kaufman, the former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, is set to lock horns with Leslie Smith, in a fight that carries definite career risks. Fighting in a rival promotion when she’s a lock for inclusion in the UFC’s recently established women’s divisions, could jeopardize her deal, especially if she loses. Yet, she simply wants to fight; sitting on the bench is not an option. In a recent interview with MMAmania.com, she stated regarding the risks of taking this fight that,
“I really don’t know. For me, it was a matter of me being a fighter. I want to fight and of course I want to fight in the UFC more than anything but if it’s a matter of sitting on the sidelines and having months and months and months go by without a fight, that doesn’t help my career either. It helps me more to take fights, to be in the cage, to keep that experience going and keep improving and have those goals to work towards. The UFC is a bonus. When I look at this, yes, this is the most important fight of my career as is every fight. I don’t know if I were to lose what would happen, just as I don’t know what would happen if I were to win. It’s really about taking this fight at face value. This is a professional fight against a tough opponent in a great organization like Invicta.”
Simply put, Kaufman is yet another exciting fighter who demonstrates the warrior spirit possessed by many of the fighters on the Invicta FC 5 card. Kaufman described her mindset and hopes for this fight, stating in the aforementioned interview that,
“I really want them to know who I am as a fighter. I think people know that but people might have forgotten and I’m out there to fight and put on a great show. I always want to win, I’m always trying to win and I’m always trying to get that finish. It doesn’t always happen but it’s always a goal. I don’t go in there to be boring. I’d love to see a finish in the first couple minutes but realistically, Leslie’s tough and she’s not gonna give up easily. I would love a finish in round two if possible but don’t be surprised if this goes the full 15 minutes and we go toe-to-toe with an amazing fight that’s great for the fans and great for me. I want my hand raised at the end.”
If that wasn’t enough to get you to watch, then let’s look at the card itself, which features bouts such as: Cristiane Santos vs. Fiona Muxlow, and Julia Budd vs. Mollie Estes. It also showcases two championship bouts. Jessica Penne’s Atomweight Championship is on the line against Michelle Waterson, and the inaugural Flyweight Championship will be decided in a bout between Barb Honchak and Vanessa Porto. From the looks of everything, this is a card not to be missed.