Dana White has often argued that women’s MMA lacks the depth required to build a competitive division. However, the formation of Invicta FC may offer a potential opportunity for Zuffa to finally develop some female talent.
Could there be some value in Dana White and Lorenzo Fertita purchasing the fledgling organization?
I recently had a brief Twitter exchange on this subject with Luke Thomas of MMAFighting.com, who made the point that, historically, Zuffa has struggled to cope with handling multiple fighting organizations.
The acquisition of Pride FC was a disaster, and Strikeforce has been similarly unsuccessful thus far, so there is some merit to his argument. Although, it is worth pointing out that contract issues have been largely to blame for the problems with the aforementioned business ventures.
But what of the WEC?
The little man’s organization was by no means a ratings juggernaut, but it was certainly profitable. More importantly, the WEC nurtured talent and developed a number of bona fide stars, such as Urijah Faber and José Aldo.
It established a fan base for fighters who had previously been overlooked, imprinting their names on the collective consciousness of MMA enthusiasts.
The WEC was always going to be folded into the UFC eventually, so its disappearance is not an indication that it was a failure. Rather, being absorbed by the sport’s biggest organization actually speaks to how successful it was in its original goal: developing talent.
The same could be true of Invicta FC. One questions whether Shannon Knapp, the organization President, has the resources to realize her vision.
Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita et al. doubtless possess the resources to aid her noble cause—and it very much is a noble pursuit.
This task would probably be much simpler than some people anticipate. Given what they have to work with, Invicta FC is already doing a terrific job staging and promoting fights for its female stars.
Zuffa would not necessarily have to shuffle around personnel, or otherwise overhaul the organization. They need only invest money and provide guidance, along with any promotional muscle they care to flex.
With that said, one thing that Invicta FC should focus on doing is merging the 135 and 145 pound divisions. That is where the vast majority of female talent is concentrated, and assimilating them into a single 140 pound weight class would instantly establish a competitive, talent-stacked division.
Consider for a moment a division that boasts Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, Sarah Kauffman, Marloes Coenen and Sara McMann at its summit. Now, that is a pretty damn compelling weight class, by anyone’s standards.
Does anyone doubt that Zuffa could aid this cause, and create a number of bankable stars? If they fail to intervene, they may end up wasting the verbal and athletic talents of Ronda Rousey, one of Zuffa’s most visible stars.
But more importantly, they will be failing to capitalize on an opportunity to finally develop and market legitimately talented female fighters, who could conceivably widen the appeal of the sport as a whole.