Although Invicta Fighting Championships is still a very young endeavor, those who follow the world of mixed martial arts know that the woman behind the all-women’s promotion is nothing short of a visionary. That woman? Shannon Knapp.

Knapp’s journey to Invicta has included stops in numerous promotions, including the UFC, Strikeforce and the IFL. Along the way, she’s learned how to overcome adversity and still deliver a product that people want to see.

That experience served Knapp well in 2013 as the promotion faced a significant amount of adversity in the year’s second half. After a larger-than-life first seven months of the year that saw the promotion crown champions in its strawweight, flyweight and featherweight divisions, things began to unravel for the upstart promotion. Late in the year, Knapp announced a messy divorce from business partner and matchmaker Janet Martin.

Much like the phoenix in its logo, the promotion returned after a five-month absence to continue its march of bringing women’s MMA to the mainstream. Knapp was forced to make some hard decisions to keep the promotion above water. First, she allowed 11 strawweight fighters—including champion Carla Esparza—to leave for the UFC and The Ultimate Fighter. Then, just a week later, she revealed that longtime MMA veteran and Invicta color commentator Julie Kedzie would step into Martin’s former role of matchmaker.

Although the outcomes of those decisions are unknown at this point in time, Knapp has been adamant that it’s going to take more than what happened with Martin to keep her (and her promotion) down. Certainly, 2014 will bring new challenges for Knapp as she works to secure a broadcast deal for the company. But with her hard work and resolve, don’t be surprised if Knapp leads Invicta to bigger and better things in the new year.

Honorable Mention: UFC Matchmaker Sean Shelby, UFC President Dana White
The MMA Corner’s 2013 Awards were selected by our staff of writers and photographers. Unless noted otherwise, the nominations were open to all fighters, promotions and events that took place during 2013.

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