Combat Sports

Zuhosky’s Take #14: Invicta FC Hits Home Run with July 20 Date

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Ever since January, women’s MMA promotion Invicta FC has been holding cards on a bi-monthly status, always in a Wednesday night timeslot on the promotion’s YouTube channel.

As far as MMA goes, with the Wednesday night timeslot, these Invicta FC shows have been the only game in town, so to speak. In July, however, the phrase “the only game in town” takes on a slightly different meaning, and it’s all thanks to the scheduling of Invicta’s next show, Invicta FC 48.

Invicta FC 48 Set For July 20

On July 20, Invicta FC 48 will originate from Denver’s ReelWorks venue, marking the first time that the women’s MMA promotion has held an event in Colorado, but this is far from the only noteworthy takeaway from the booking of July 20 for the show.

That date is the day following the 2022 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Los Angeles at legendary Dodger Stadium.

No Competition From Other Major North American Sports Leads to Big Opportunity For Invicta FC

The Wednesday after the MLB All-Star Game is traditionally the one and only day of every calendar year on which no major sporting events are scheduled to take place in North America, with the NFL, NBA, and NHL all in the offseason at that time of year, and MLB resuming its regular-season schedule the next day.

This is also the reason why ESPN moved its annual ESPY Awards ceremony from a varying winter date to July in 2003, so it stands to reason that Invicta FC 48 will have the potential to be watched by more eyeballs than usual on a typical Wednesday in just three short weeks’ time.

Aside from three international friendlies in soccer involving MLS teams playing against European opposition ahead of the European club season, Invicta FC 48 will be the lone sporting event happening on July 20 in North America.

Invicta Returns To AXS TV on July 20

In addition to Invicta FC 48 happening on the night after the MLB All-Star Game, the event also marks the promotion’s return to linear television inside the United States.

AXS TV was announced as the traditional television network in America for the July 20 card earlier in June, marking the first time that an Invicta event has been shown on the former HDNet since the undercard of Invicta FC 44 aired on the network last August.

AXS TV initially became Invicta’s first traditional television partner in the spring of 2021 after Invicta was sold to the digital cable network’s parent company, Anthem Sports and Entertainment, clearing the way for the channel to begin airing the promotion’s events that May.

Viewers who have become accustomed to watching these events through the promotion’s YouTube channel and/or Facebook page need not worry about those streams no longer being offered, as these platforms will continue to carry Invicta events.

AXS TV Is No Stranger to MMA

By no means will Invicta FC 48 be AXS TV’s first rodeo in the sport of MMA, as the digital cabler has aired fight cards before.

For the last 15 years, dating back to its time as HDNet, AXS TV has aired various combat sports promotions on its network under the umbrella title AXS TV Fights, then ordinarily broadcast on Friday nights. A few years ago, AXS TV announced that it would be ending its longstanding pact with the LFA following LFA 76 on Sept. 13, 2019.

CES MMA Left AXS TV Earlier in 2019

It was the second MMA promotion to depart from AXS TV that year, with CES MMA leaving the channel earlier in 2019, and at the time, it was believed that AXS TV was beginning to move away from MMA.

Upon CES MMA moving to UFC Fight Pass in 2019, Brian Gerson, then of MMASucka, said:

“CES MMA’s move from television to online streaming came as the result of an expiring deal with AXS TV. Once the defunct home of diverse North American mixed martial arts programming and broadcasts, AXS TV dumped another combat sports property.”

Later in the article, Gerson explained why CES MMA and AXS TV parted company.

“A source revealed to MMASucka, AXS TV did not renew with CES MMA due to a shift in MMA programming that will diminish its MMA programming in the years to come.”

AXS TV Resumes MMA Coverage With Combate Global, Then COVID-19 Hits

AXS TV wouldn’t stay away from MMA for very long, as just less than two months after the cabler ended its relationship with the LFA, it would sign a contract to air fights from what was then Combate Americas (now Combate Global), originally slated to begin in 2020 in a Friday night window.

The start date of the new contract was eventually moved up to Dec. 13, 2019, when Combate Americas: North America vs. South America was aired on AXS TV, just six days removed from Tito Ortiz fighting Alberto del Rio in a 210-lb. catchweight.

When the contract between Combate Americas and AXS TV was initially agreed upon, at minimum, 35 live shows were to be aired during the first year of the deal, but this would ultimately prove to be an untenable scenario for both parties due to circumstances beyond their control.

After just two shows were held in 2020, Combate Americas was forced to cancel all then-upcoming events indefinitely because of concerns over COVID-19, a hiatus that lasted more than a full year.

Subsequently, the deal between Combate Americas and AXS TV was voided and the promotion was later rebranded to Combate Global upon its return in April of last year.

Enter Invicta FC

After not having aired any MMA shows for more than a year due to the virus, AXS TV came to an agreement with Invicta FC in the spring of 2021 upon the sale to Anthem Sports and Entertainment.

Upon the broadcast agreement being signed, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp became a senior member of Anthem Sports and Entertainment’s Sports Media Group.

“This is a huge moment for Invicta and for women in the sport,” Knapp said at the time. “Invicta FC was founded to give female mixed martial artists a platform where they could compete and prove the doubters wrong. Now, as part of the Anthem portfolio and with shows on national television for the first time, Invicta’s platform will be bigger than ever, and more people will have the opportunity to see the world’s elite female athletes compete.”

Now, Invicta FC stands at the doorstep of what could be its biggest audience ever.

Final Thoughts: Is This a Home Run?

With Invicta FC 48 scheduled to be taking place the night after the MLB All-Star Game this July, it’s only right to reference Cleveland Guardians Radio Network play-by-play commentator Tom Hamilton here.

“Shannon Knapp in the batter’s box, awaiting the next offering. The sports world gets the sign. The pitch. (crack of bat) A swing and a drive! To deep right! A-way back! GONE! (crowd roars) Shannon Knapp takes the 2-0 pitch and drives it out of the ballpark!”

On paper, the scheduling of Invicta FC 48 looks to be a home run, given that it’s on the only night of the year where no major sporting events will be going on in North America, but this is why the card happens.

Only time will tell whether Invicta FC 48 will be a home run or a foul ball.

Featured image credit to Invicta Fighting Championship

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