The sport’s foremost women’s MMA organization has officially linked up with one of MMA’s most historic promotions.
Invicta Fighting Championships has entered into an exclusive talent-sharing agreement with Pancrase that will permit the free exchange top women’s talent between both rosters across the Pacific. The newly-minted partnership was officially announced Tuesday via press release.
“It’s an honor to be able to partner with Pancrase, one of MMA’s most storied promotions,” said Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp in an official statement. “In addition to all past and present 'Kings and Queens of Pancrase,’ pioneers and contemporary stars alike have passed through the Pancrase organization at one time or another.”
“Through our talent-sharing agreement, we hope to be able to capitalize on the wealth of female fighters being developed by both Invicta and Pancrase in a mutually beneficial way,” Knapp added.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based Invicta was founded in 2012, staging its first event on April 28 that year and in the wake of promotions such as Smackgirl and Greatest Common Multiple’s Valkyrie, quickly established itself as the premiere all-women’s MMA company. Japan’s Pancrase, a seminal MMA institution, was launched in May 1993 and held its inaugural event later that September. The home of “hybrid wrestling” began actively promoting women's MMA in 2005 under its “Athena rules” structure. In 2011, Pancrase began promoting women’s MMA more intently, leading to the first-ever all-female Pancrase main event in April 2011 between Mei Yamaguchi and the promotion’s original poster girl Tomomi “Windy” Sunaba.
Both outfits already shared one promotional aspect in common, as Invicta FC and Pancrase both stream their events live on UFC Fight Pass.
“This might open the door for fans in Japan to see Japanese fighters under the Invicta contract, such as Mizuki and Takayo Hashi to fight in Japan as well,” said Pancrase President Masakazu Sakai. “Both Invicta FC and Pancrase are currently on UFC Fight Pass and by exchanging fighters we are looking to increase opportunities for fighters to compete more often.”
Invicta FC presently boasts four champions: featherweight titlist Megan Anderson, who has since signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship; bantamweight ruler Yana Kunitskaya; flyweight champ Jennifer Maia; and strawweight ace Ayaka Hamasaki.
Pancrase has only crowned two Queens of Pancrase in its history, but for now, the promotion is functionally without any champion, as inaugural bantamweight Queen of Pancrase Rin Nakai returned her title this past February to cut to flyweight, while strawweight beltholder Syuri Kondo, like Anderson, recently signed with the UFC, making a successful Octagon debut by winning a split decision over Chanmi Jeon at UFC Fight Night 117 on Sept. 22.