Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Janet Martin Interview
April 28th will be the debut card for Invicta Fighting Championships. An all female card loaded with great talent, headlined by Marloes Coenen going up against Romy Ruyssen. With the event being streamed online for free, this is a chance for you to see the event if you cant make it in person and see top level athletes do what they do best. This is the right time to try and run a successful all female promotion, and Invicta clearly has the right people involved to make that happen. One of those people is Janet Martin. I got the opportunity to talk with Janet about Invicta.
Q: Can you give a little of your background in MMA?
A: With MMA, Shannon (Knapp) and I co-founded Invicta Fighting Championships. My work is working with athletic relations and match making. I came to MMA about two years ago. I was an under-grad student and did my sociology research on the female fighter population. Its a population that hadn't been studied in sociological context. So I did in depth research and interviews as well as survey questioners, and that brought to light a lot of the deficiencies and maybe inequalities in the personal experiences of female fighters. Which spurred me to see how I could make a difference. I worked with a previous company helping put female fights on their cards. Then I came together with Shannon and we brain stormed and that's how we came up with Invicta Fighting Championships.
Q: Where did the name Invicta come from?
A: Invicta is actually a Latin word. When you are forming a company and trying to find an identity and what reflects your mission, we were struggling a little bit, so I went to my old school Latin classes. Invicta means invincible or incomparable, so those terms really reflected what we were as a company. Trying to make a difference in women's MMA, just to be invincible ad help the females by offering a platform in the sport they love. What's unique is as a Latin word, invincible and incomparable are very masculine terms, but in Latin it only appears in the feminine form. So we decided it was a great description for women's MMA.
Q: For someone would would say to you that a female only company cant have long term success, how would you respond?
A: I really think probably in the past it may not have been as viable, but it is a point in time when there is more female participation and recognition. Its about giving it its own platform, bringing it together and giving it its own identity in the sport that's going to be the key to longevity and viability of women's MMA and our company. So a few years ago might not have been the time, but we feel the time is now. There is increasing participation by females, now you have a fresh group of fighters and women are participating every day. So many now are pursuing professional careers. So its the right time and we are giving them a platform to be competitive.
Q: You are streaming the first show live for free, how helpful can that be to exposing people to the product?
A: Its giving a free sample, a chance for someone who may not have viewed female MMA as a sport. Even if they just come and look, we are giving them a chance to see the event for free. It will help us create our own audience. It doesn't cost anything, they aren't risking anything to sit at the computer and watch and be exposed to female fighting at its best. Its gonna be exciting fights, interesting match-ups, a new product, and we are letting them view it for free. It will be in HD and a quality event for them to experience women's MMA.
Q: Due to a lack of visibility, there are still a lot of women fighters who people outside the hardcore audience don't know. How helpful is it to have someone like Marloes Coenen who can draw in fans and help people learn about other fighters?
A: Marloes has had a phenomenal career so far and has created her own fan base, so it is helpful to have some of those female leaderships. They serve as role models as well as high level fighters and are veterans of the sport. Plus to have Marloes on the card is exciting, its a great match-up with er and Romy(Ruyssen). SO having recognizable names does have the event, but I feel all up a down the card the fighters will support the event and be exciting. So whether you turn in just for Marloes or for the whole night you will have entertainment.
Q: The female population is growing, but still small compared to men's, how hard is it to put together an all female, evenly matched card?
A: It has its difficulties because its not as connected as men's MMA. Its about doing research, looking around for that untapped talent or the fighter that hasn't had that exposure. I spend my time doing research, looking at video, studying, inquiring, having open conversations with camps and managers. I am looking around the world just trying to find the best talent. A lot of it hasn't been exposed to the general audience. Our goal is to create those opportunities so they are recognized by their name as high level competitors.
Q: One thing I notice is names like Marloes, Kaitlin Young, Sarah Maloy, Jessica Philippus and Ashley Cummins. Names who are like role model types for younger fighters. Did you make a conscious effort to get fighters like that?
A: I wouldn't say a conscious effort, because they are leaders in their weight divisions and have had success early on or garnered success as veterans, it was about tapping into their talents as fighters and finding an evenly matched opponent. Their are a lot of great names and talent on the card. I have met some personally and am constantly doing research learning about them. So if you have that great personality it carries over to your training and how you compete. Some of them do have a good following with the next generation of fighters. Their are young girls out there who look to them as role models in the sport, not just as females, but MMA fighters, because they have a dream to be a pro fighter some day.
Q: The women's MMA community isn't a huge group but it's a loyal group who has really been promoting this card. How important a role do they play in the card?
A: The women's MMA community has been phenomenal. They have gotten excited about what we are doing and support it. There are advocates in media and advocates who work with fighters. The community has kind of grouped around us and we believe if everyone puts it up on their shoulders, Invicta will serve as a platform for women's MMA. So we want to earn their respect, their support and their enthusiasm, to give the fighters great competition and a great event, and recognize them as fighters. The community has been so positive and we are excited to have that support and almost partnership.
Q: You announced Maura Ranallo will be commentating. Is it safe to say having someone the casual fan is familiar with will help get people to check it out?
A: Yeah, we are not just creating a stream of fights. We want you to sit and watch it or be at the arena and part of a sports event. We are making it a sporting event, it will be entertaining and exciting. So to have Mauro does give it a level of professionalism that we are striving for.
Q: Have you given any thought of how frequently you want to run show?
A: Probably for 2012 we are looking at two more events. As a business plan, three to four events a year. Things factor in so we may be able to do more as we grow.
Q: The average fan reading this, who may think MMA is only UFC, tell them why they should check this out?
A: UFC is a male product and MMA is predominantly male. So if you haven't watched a female fight, which a lot of times even regional companies don't put women on the card, sit and watch it. They are athletic, committed and dedicated. Women are training in the gym right along with the male, learning the same skills and techniques. It is MMA, women athletes who trained hard and are focused. I encourage them to watch it with an open mind and enjoy the energy and excitement. They are all striving to be the winner, have their hand raised and be a champion. People can relate to that. You want to be the best at what you are doing, and its the sport they love. Sit and watch and enjoy.
Q: Before we finish, anything you want to add?
A: We are excited about the enthusiasm and support by fans, by media, and Invicta is working hard to move women's MMA forward. We are moving at a professional level and working hard for the fighters and fans. We hope to earn everyones respect and support and create a fan base that will keep the excitement going into the future.