Girls Night: First Impressions of Invicta FC

Bec Hyatt. Photo by Esther Lin/Invicta FC.

I have to admit that I'm a little late to the Invicta FC party.

I've read all of the hype surrounding MMA's first mainstream all-female promotion. I've been following it somewhat closely, even the controversy regarding Shannon Knapp's insistence that her product's first-ever show drew 230,000+ unique visitors to a stream on Invicta's website. Yet I wasn't able to sit down and a catch event, until now.

Sick as a dog, I was able to spend Saturday night watching Invicta's fourth card, headlined by a clash for the vacant Invicta strawweight title between Carla Esparza and last-minute replacement Bec Hyatt. I was impressed to say the least.

From start to finish, the card was entertaining and fun to watch. Eight out of the thirteen fights went the distance, but it made little difference as I can honestly say that each and every one of the girls on the card left everything they had in the cage. It was refreshing to watch and sort of reminded me of the early days following Zuffa's purchase of the WEC, which saw guys fighting their hearts out in hopes of potentially making a transition to the UFC down the line.

The main event between Esparza and Hyatt was awesome. Even though Esparza cruised to a decision win courtesy of a plethora of takedowns and a lifetime spent in top control, Hyatt made things exciting every time she returned to her feet. She put on a gutsy effort in stepping into a title bout on just six days’ notice. I can't wait to see her in action again.

In her pre-fight interview, Alexis Davis predicted that she would avenge her previous 2010 loss to Shayna Baszler and would do so by beating Baszler at her own game. She did just that, submitting Baszler, who had won all but one of her fights by sub (a decision win over Davis), with a rear-naked choke in the third round. Quite the call made by Davis.

The night's most one-sided affair came during Joanne Calderwood's three-round thrashing of Livia von Plettenberg. Credit to von Plettenberg for hanging in there and going the distance, but two of the three rounds could have been scored as 10-8 rounds and the fight also could have been stopped in the third without much resistance from anyone in the arena, probably including von Plettenberg herself, who took countless amounts of unanswered kicks and punches.

As far the presentation of the broadcast goes, it was your average run-of-the-mill offering from a regional type of promotion, but is something to hang your hat on considering Invicta hasn’t even officially been on the block for a year yet. The stream I watched was crisp and only had to be reset twice. And one of those times was due to my paranoia. The camera angles were solid and the replays were on the money.

Anytime you have Bas Rutten on your announce team, it's a win. It was good to have Julie Kedzie there to lend a female fighter's perspective to things.

My favorite part was King Mo as the third man. For those who aren't aware, Muhammed Lawal is one of the most knowledgeable people out there when it comes to MMA, fighter, fan or media member. He is reportedly a fight addict and has spent countless hours watching each and every match he can get his hands on. I wish he would have given his take a little bit more throughout the broadcast. There were times when you could have forgotten he was even there, but when he did speak up, it was worth listening to.

Mo's slam of Jason High on the air was also priceless. Be sure to check out the Twitter war the sparked the whole thing.

Granted, things would have run a lot smoother with a play-by-play man at the helm. Despite the fun I had listening to the aforementioned trio, Mauro Ranallo was missed.

It was a shame that Invicta wasn't able to get things figured out with uStream on the PPV end of things, because based on the amount of buzz I read, there were a good amount of fans that were more than willing to pay for a night of female fights. Even when Knapp made the call to give the broadcast away for free, uStream still presented problems to plenty of people out there throughout the night.

So in closing, I won't slam GSP for saying that he doesn't like to watch women fight. I can understand that it's not for same. That same fact may even result in a lackluster debut for Ronda Rousey next month. I'll touch on that in the near future. However, Shannon Knapp does have a point in saying that the real hardcore fans can't be gender-bias when it comes to the sport. After watching tonight, and with an event that probably didn't live to expectations, you honestly can't be.


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