Is Invicta FC doing something the UFC can’t?
I’m extremely impressed with what the all-female Invicta FC organisation has done through their first two promoted events. They have a viable long-term future as the WNBA to the UFC’s NBA, and they can be that relatively soon. There is a ‘but’ though.
The company ran their second event on Saturday night at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. As with their first show, the entire fight card was streamed live on the company’s website.
Following the event, which was headlined by former US Olympic wrestling medalist Sara McMann running her record to a perfect 6-0 with a unanimous decision win over veteran Shayna Baszler, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp appeared on Tapout Radio.
During the course of her interview, Knapp said that the second event drew more viewers than their first show did.
Here’s the thing: Knapp said that the first show did 233,000 views, and that the second show topped that number.
Those are freakishly impressive numbers. How impressive? UFC fights on Facebook don’t draw those kinds of numbers. I’m not saying that it is impossible for Invicta FC to outdraw the UFC on the Internet, but color me skeptical.
If those numbers are accurate, it means that Invicta FC has found some way to do something that the UFC and Bellator have not as of yet: they’ve managed to convince large numbers of fight fans to stay at home and sit in front of their computers on a Saturday night, and they’re doing it (1) without a huge marketing push, and (2) with a line-up that is made up of fighter who are largely unknown to many serious MMA fans.
Those numbers, if accurate, mean that the second Invicta FC show is doing better than Bellator does streaming their fights on Spike.com, despite being new entrants into the business.
They would also suggest that UFC President Dana White grossly misjudged the market for women’s MMA.
I know that comparing viewership numbers from pay cable networks and the internet isn’t exactly great, but humour me for a minute.
The two biggest, most heavily promoted fights in women’s MMA – Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg and Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey – drew 576,000 and 431,000 viewers respectively on Showtime.
The main card for each of those shows were comprised completely of men’s fights, with a pair of championship bouts coming before Cyborg crushed Carano, while Tate-Rousey was preceded by a less significant collection of pairings.
With the assertion that this most recent Invicta FC show did better than their first event, Knapp is suggesting that more than half as many people who watched the most anticipated fight in women’s MMA since Carano-Cyborg gave up a summer Saturday night to watch a line-up comprised of far less established fighters compete, and did so despite their being an all-out offensive on the marketing side of things.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I don’t buy it.
The UFC isn’t getting those kinds of numbers for their fight cards on Fuel TV, yet alone the one or two bouts they offer on Facebook from each event. While those Facebook contests aren’t exactly marquee attractions, neither were the fights being offered by Invicta FC over the weekend.
The main event was an intriguing contest, and there were some talented competitors taking part, but if the biggest organisation in the business can’t convince its fans to plunk their butts in front of their computers for an hour to watch a couple preliminary card fights, how am I supposed to accept that a company that is only a couple months removed from their first event was able to trump the numbers generated by the UFC with their second show?
If these numbers are legitimate, Knapp and everyone involved with the organisation should be parading in the streets, showing off the numbers to anyone and everyone, and taking offers to share their secret with everyone who has ever dreamed of finding success streaming their events on the internet.
Pulling in a quarter of a million viewers for a fight card comprised of relatively inexperienced participants is incredible, and if it genuinely is happening for Invicta FC, I’m stoked for them.
But I just can’t see how it’s happening.
It’s like King of the Cage in North America or CFC in Australia offering an event for free on their website and drawing similar numbers, and that’s not happening.
You can’t explain it as “fight fans will watch anything” either because if that were the case, the UFC would be drawing more viewers to Facebook than they are currently.
I’m not making any accusations. Instead, I’m offering up my reservations, and have reached out to Knapp for answers to these questions.
I’ll keep you posted, even if these numbers prove to be 100% accurate and I’m forced to eat a little humblepie.
Follow The Roar’s UFC Expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).