Thursday, December 12, 2013

UFC acquires 11 Invicta 115lb fighters for TUF 20

Last month UFC President Dana White announced plans for a 115lb women's division. So it was not surprising that he announced last night that the UFC has bought the contracts of 11 fighters from Invicta. I guess he had to wait until after Saturday's show. They are Carla Esparza, Claudia Gadelha, Joanne Calderwood, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, Bec Hyatt, Felice Herrig, Alex Chambers, Emily Kagan, Juliana Lima and Paige Van Zant. That cleans out Invicta's Strawweight division. I don't know how much Zuffa paid for those contracts. But it makes me wonder why they just didn't buy Invicta. During the conference call, he spouted some nonsense about Invicta being an up and coming company. If that's true, shouldn't they have a TV deal after two years and not have to resort to iPPV? He'll buy them eventually. All these fighters will be in The Ultimate Fighter 20 which will begin shooting in May. Normally, fighters are competing in TUF for a UFC contract. But this is different because all 11 fighters are under UFC contract and they are competing for the UFC Strawweight Championship. Five more fighters will be added through tryouts. And the 11 fighters will be paid while waiting. It was announced on last night's Fox Sports Live that Carla will be paid $40K and the others will be paid $32K before TUF starts filming. That's a big pay bump over Invicta. Keep in mind that the Invicta contracts are not exclusive so Zuffa didn't even have to deal with Invicta. But they paid them as a courtesy. It's funny that Invicta owner Shannon Knapp responded to UFC poaching their 115lb fighters the other day by stating that the fighters are under contract knowing this deal was already done. This didn't just happen yesterday. Knapp put tried to put on a positive spin in an interview with Chuck Mindenhall of MMA Fighting. But other than Zuffa paying Invicta enough money to keep them in business for a while, there's nothing positive about this for Invicta. A potential TV partner will want to know if the UFC will poach Invicta again. That question can't be answered satisfactorily. It will happen again. So as I have said for a while, the solution is for Zuffa to buy Invicta and put them on Fox Sports 2. Through all Knapp's denials, the perception is that Invicta is a UFC feeder. And perception is reality. White didn't say anything about coaches but I still think Megumi Fujii should be one of the coaches. And the other coach should be Jessica Aguilar. I know what you're thinking. Didn't Jessica sign with World Series of Fighting? There is suspicion that WSOF is simply a placeholder for the UFC. So don't be surprised if Jessica is in the UFC by the end of 2014 and gets the first title shot. Almost forgot. I was asked about MIZUKI. She isn't under Invicta contract. DEEP JEWELS loans her to them. And I was asked about Ayaka Hamasaki. She has been forced to retire due to a bad knee.

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