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Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp instrumentally proud of Halle Berry's Bruised movie – MMA Crossfire


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Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp instrumentally proud of Halle Berry’s Bruised movie

"One of the prouder moments is that I got to share it with my daughter ..."

For Shannon Knapp, Halle Berry’s Bruised movie was more than an opportunity to take a moment and survey the MMA landscape from her Invicta FC platform that she spent many years building.

It was a chance to celebrate just how far the sport has progressed.


Bruised not only stars Berry, but it is also her directorial debut. Written by Michelle Rosenfarb, and starring Canadian Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto, Sheila Atim, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, the film will make its debut in various theatres Nov. 17 and on Netflix on Nov. 24.

As the president of Invicta FC, Knapp is very selective about the projects she associates with, but she was excited with the vision Berry had for her film.

“Halle. Halle and her passion,” Knapp said to MMA Crossfire, on the phone from Los Angeles. “Passion for telling the story, getting it right and trunk to lift up women in the sport. That’s what’s really pushed me to get behind the movie and be part of it in that aspect.”

“When Halle was doing research for the role, she came out to one of the Invicta events,” Knapp explained. “She reached out and I convinced her that if you’re going to tell a story, you have start where it begins. You can’t jump in the middle, you can’t jump in at the end. So when she came out, I got the opportunity to meet a bunch of the staff that was working on the set and stuff like that and did some consulting in that aspect and as we went further, we realized: Guess what?”

“The promotion that she (character Jackie Justice) fights in should be called Invicta,” Knapp continued. “We were instrumental in getting those posters to them, helping with that set helping to make it look like … in terms of the cage, because that’s the Invicta cage those are the Invicta ring girl outfits, the belt, you get to see the Invicta belt. Just stuff like that and kind of eyeing and looking it over to make sure the presentation was what it would be if it was an actual event taking place.”

Bruised is the latest progression of movies that fiercely explore the MMA subculture, this time through a female protagonist and story.

“It’s really exciting because it’s going to be exciting to say this to my athletes. You really want to watch and keep your eyes on everything,” Knapp noted. “There’s a clip of a (bloody) fight with Lisa Spangler and Julija Stoliarenko. Our posters are hanging everywhere, so I saw Karina Rodriguez and the Deanna Bennett poster.

I think the big thing that the Invicta athletes are going to watch for is, look around. Because there’s so much nostalgia with the old posters. The athletes are going to be pumped up and its really going to give them something to look for because you could see different athletes all over the place.

“And Julie Kedzie. We weren’t sure at the time if Julie made it into the movie, but she is, as the commentator. I had paid her way to go out to the set and they did end up using her in that position.”

“Julie and Yves Edwards were the commentators in the movie,” Knapp said. “They cut to where you could visually see them several times, so I feel like they had a really big part. And Valentina (Shevchenko), she did an amazing job on the movie as well.”

Shannon Knapp
Shannon Knapp and Valentina Shevchenko at the Bruised premiere in Hollywood. Courtesy Thunder Road Entertainment.

Invicta FC fighters Taneisha Tennant and Jennifer Cheing are also in the movie.

Knapp’s main role with Bruised was to help maintain the film’s authenticity, which involved some behind-the-scenes support.

“I was able to be on set,” Knapp said. “I was telling Halle yesterday. These are two years to the date, they were filming in Atlantic City (New Jersey) on the 11th, 12th, and 13th (of November), so I was on set of November two years ago. So it took a minute for the film, huh?”

Valentina Shevchenko (L) and Halle Berry in a scene.. Courtesy John Bauer/Netflix

It took time indeed, but with its theatrical premiere at hand on Nov. 17, Bruised is a reminder to take a breath and appreciate some of the growth of the sport in the past 10 years. We’ve seen the global expansion of the UFC, the rise of Asian promotion ONE Championship beginning in 2011, the increased exposure of Bellator MMA, the PFL, powered by next generation stars Kayla Harrison and Claressa Shields, all of which converge to involve one arguable constant.

The growth of WMMA, which was primarily powered by two components: Invicta FC and the legacy of generation stars like Gina Carano, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Cris Cyborg.

But, time does not stand still.

Invicta’s next event will be its 50th one, another milestone that surprised Knapp when mentioned. Asked about the crowning achievement of Invicta thus far, she was thoughtful.


“The crowning achievement is all of the moments,” Knapp said. “Every time I look at one of the kids that are chasing a dream and that we’re part of helping them move towards it or succeeding on whatever that dream is … There’s nothing better than seeing that sparkle. I always love it when they walk into the office and you see that sparkle in their eyes on how much and they look at me and say that (belt) will be mine. And then to watch them move forward in their career and gain that experience and to be part of that journey. Those are the crowning moments, I don’t think I could ever say there’s just one.”

Invicta FC

Another crowning moment was the Nov. 13 event at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, in which Knapp, the cast, and some special guests attended for a special screening.

‘It was wonderful,” Knapp said. “Netflix was onsite. They were incredibly kind and generous with time so I have to give them a shoutout for being great hosts. It’s been exciting from start to finish. Just to be there and get to be part of that. To see the movie on the big screen, it was an incredible experience. Grateful and blessed to be apart of that.”

And now with the official premiere at hand, Knapp is like an Invicta fighter during fight week, doing interviews and attending press conferences, with the added luxury of not having to make weight.

“It was fun, educational,” Knapp summed up. “I learned a lot, which I always love that aspect of anything, but everyone was so kind and it was just a really good experience.”

Knapp is open to similar projects that help elevate the sport.

“I think we’re always open and excited to do anything that makes a difference and helps shine a positive light on the female athletes in the sport or the sport itself. I think everybody thinks we’ve made it, we’re at the top but there’s always work to be done. So for me, it’s always making that difference and lifting the sport up and the athletes. We’re in and we’re game if it follows the positive side of that.”

And now Bruised joins Warrior, the Kingdom TV series, in the MMA lexicon.

“When it comes to the athletes and things, it’s a proud moment because I know that this is going to make my athletes incredibly happy and proud of the organization that they compete in,” Knapp said. “One of the prouder moments is that I got to share it with my daughter. So for my daughter to look over and say: Whoah, this is something my mom was part of. So that was an incredible feeling. To watch the movie and see that … We all go through struggles and to see the empowerment that her character continues to try to lift herself up … outside of the obstacles that she’s facing … it’s just the perseverance and passion to get in there and get this done and to change her life to be something different and better … you have to embrace that because we all fight that fight, whether we’re male or female.

“It was good to sit down and watch that and all the women that were involved in the project. It was just one of those moments of empowerment that lifts us all up.”

Another thing that Knapp is embracing is evolving the Invicta brand, thanks in part to the April deal with Canadian media company Anthem and Sports Entertainment Corp.

“It’s definitely different because you’ve been following for a long time so you know 10 years ago I started it and to now have partners … They’ve been amazing partners,” Knapp said. “I didn’t realize how lonely it was on the other side until I had all this support. They believe in the product and the vision and that’s huge and so important to have. For us, our goal is to continue to elevate the sport and the brand. Maybe add some different genres under the brand like boxing, and some different things like that. We’re always working and thinking so hopefully, we’ll be able to make some announcements soon about what our next steps are.

“I think the fans are going to be excited.”

Editor’s Note: Check back here for more stories on Shannon Knapp and the Bruised movie.


Kenai is a former Postmedia Network online news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.

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