The all-women Invicta promotion, without a television deal, is moving to pay-per-view for its July 13 show headlined by Marloes Coenen facing Cris Cyborg to crown its first featherweight champion.
The battle of the two best-known active women fighters not under a UFC contract will air live at 9 p.m. Eastern and 6 p.m. Pacific time on cable through iN Demand, as well as on The Dish Network and Avail-TV in the United States and on Bell in Canada with a list price of $ 14.95.
The company had gone the Internet PPV route for its most recent show on April 5, featuring Cyborg’s debut with the promotion, a first round stoppage of Fiona Muxlow.
“We are excited about bringing the Invicta FC brand of women’s world championship mixed martial arts to television for the first time with this tremendous rematch between two of the world’s top woman fighters,” said Shannon Knapp, the President of Invicta FC, in a statement. “This is another step forward for women’s MMA, and we are extremely proud to be leading the charge.”
Cyborg (11-1, 1 no contest) defeated Coenen (21-5) on January 30, 2010 to retain the Strikeforce women’s featherweight title, via third round stoppage. Coenen had trouble with the power of Cyborg, then known as Cris “Cyborg” Santos, in a fight that she never got untracked in. Coenen, in going nearly 14 minutes, lasted longer than any Cyborg opponent had since 2005.
Coenen, a pioneer of women’s MMA, got her start as a teenager in Japan in 2000 after training in both kickboxing and grappling with the Golden Glory team in Holland. Now 32, she submitted Sarah Kaufman with an armbar on October 9, 2010, to win Strikeforce’s women’s bantamweight title. She retained the title beating Liz Carmouche, and lost it on July 30, 2011, to Miesha Tate in Hoffman Estates, Ill. That title, which is now the UFC belt, was the same title Tate lost to current champion Ronda Rousey.
Cyborg headlined what would have been the second biggest woman’s mixed martial arts match in history, when she faced current movie star Gina Carano on Aug. 15, 2009, in a fight that set the all-time Showtime mixed martial arts ratings record. With the win, Cyborg was generally considered the best female fighter in the world. But she has been the subject of controversy for failing a steroid test after her Dec. 17, 2011, title defense where she had beaten Hiroko Yamanaka via stoppage in just 16 seconds. The win was overturned, and she was suspended for one year and stripped of her championship.
Cyborg was under contract to Strikeforce when UFC disbanded the brand, and brought the women to the UFC. The UFC attempted to match her with Ronda Rousey in a bantamweight title fight on the debut women’s fight in the organization on Feb. 23. A combination of not coming to a financial agreement and Cyborg saying she couldn’t make 135 pounds saw the attempts fall apart.
After they did, Cyborg’s manager, Tito Ortiz, asked the UFC for a release, which it granted, and a week later they reached a deal with Invicta.
Moving to pay-per-view is a major risk, particularly for a promotion with no television backing. The costs of Internet pay-per-view are significantly less than doing a live television broadcast, but the upside is also far more limited because most fans have been reluctant to buy shows of that type on the Internet. Even with worldwide availability, UFC events only do a tiny percentage of purchases on the Internet as compared to the traditional television platform, even though television pay-per-view is only available in a few countries.
The first Invicta shows aired via free Internet stream.
This will be the company’s sixth show from its home base of Kansas City, and second at the Ameristar Casino Hotel, a 1,000-seat arena that it sold out in April.
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