As the only two female writers for The Scrap, Katie Vega and Caroline Romero are introducing a column to highlight women in MMA.
With a background in broadcasting, production, athlete relations, and matchmaking, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp admits that she has worn many hats in the MMA industry. Knapp was instrumental in co-founding the premier women’s Mixed Martial Arts promotion in 2012, but it was not an easy road for her.
“When I came through, we didn’t have many women in the business, especially women athletes competing,” Knapp expressed, “There wasn’t that level of respect and knowledge.”
She described the MMA industry atmosphere back then as “an old boys club”. Knapp listed her biggest struggle in working in MMA at the time was, ”I happened to be a female in a male-dominated sport. I always felt I had to prove my worth that I was as good as the guy that was standing next to me. There were many times that I was doing the work, but the male was getting the credit for it.”
Knapp proudly stated that she stuck to her morals and values during her years in the business. “I was somebody that kept my nose clean. I was always very conscientious of knowing that I was a female working around where everyone was male. I paid attention to these factors because I wanted to be taken seriously and I weaved my way through the sport.”
The Invicta president said it was her “extreme passion for the sport” that drove her to continue climbing up the ranks to where she sits today. “No matter what you do if you have passion for something you stick to it. I ‘ve always had an extreme passion for the sport. I’ve always been an extreme advocate for the athletes and the sport. Being passionate is what drove me to find new avenues in the sport to continue to learn, grow, and elevate.”
Now at the top of the game and looking back, Knapp said the thing she loves most about her job is making a difference. “That’s what I love most about what I do. Being able to help people that have a vision and have a dream. Changing the game, that’s what I love more than anything is changing the game. If someone says we can’t do it, I say ‘oh yes, we can.’ I love that. You have no idea how many people laughed at me when I started. Now I love helping people achieve the dream and the goal. Beating the odds, boy I like that.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone who is interested in working in the MMA industry Knapp said, “It’s not easy. The best advice I would ever give someone is chase the dream and go after it because that’s important. You must try when it’s something that’s important to you, but also be smart enough to have a backup plan. Continue not only growing in the sport as an athlete but continue to grow period. Educationally or any way that helps you have the tools that you need to be successful outside the cage as well. I think it’s very important to push people to pursue dreams. Don’t leave anything that’s left unsaid.”
Now during the coronavirus pandemic, Knapp said she is still wheeling and dealing and working on new projects. “We just launched a new series called ‘Invicta Rewind’. I am always constantly kind of pacing the floors working on ideas for something new. I am working on some new show ideas and different things like that. I am just kind of doing a little house cleaning in the company; cleaning things up trying to get more organized. I am considering what options might be available to us when we do start back. There could be things in place like people not being able to fly into the country. There could be restrictions in place concerning live audiences. I am looking at all that stuff and kind of evaluating if the world is changing how do we change with it.”
She is looking forward to the world of MMA opening up again and said the promotion has some good things coming up this year. Halle Berry recently attended an Invicta event and Knapp stated the promotion was able to do some work with her that hopefully will be out later this year. “There’s good stuff going on all the way around,” she said. “God willing I’ve got some big ideas I am working on that may change the game across a couple of different sports including MMA and boxing.”
Knapp’s outright passion and dedication to her job and the sport are evident when she speaks. She is one of the good ones in the sport who is in the business for all the right reasons. “At the end of the day I respect business is business you have to make money, but I am just happy to make money to keep the lights on. Everything goes back in to make it better to keep elevating it because that’s what it takes. It’s a grind. You got to be all in to make it go.”
Knapp is also aware of the importance of the people that work alongside her in making the promotion successful. “Invicta is blessed with a lot of people that help lift us up. Your fans, your athletes, I have an amazing staff; an incredible staff. After all these years you put it together and it all clicks, and it all works. Some of these people have been with me since day one. My core people are still the ones that have been there since day one. It’s great when people buy into the passion and are with you in their passion and values. Good things happen for us. We seem to be very blessed in that way. You do good work and good things happen.”