Showtime network eyes Invicta FC as it gears up for potential return to MMA programming

Esther Lin for Invicta Fights

Shannon Knapp ... where you at?

If at first you don't succeed, find another regional promotion not owned by ZUFFA and try again.

That's the motto of Showtime Sports Executive Stephen Espinoza (via MMA Fighting), who was part of the Strikeforce relationship that also included programming from M-1 Global. While a second go-round in mixed martial arts (MMA) is being targeted for as early as late 2013 or early 2014, the challenge is to first find the right partner.

And leading the list of potential candidates is Invicta FC.

"Probably the most noteworthy promotion that's distinguished itself out there, other than the ones aligned with TV networks, is probably Invicta. The UFC relationship (with Invicta FC) is absolutely not a problem, whatsoever. I still run into those guys, from the Fertitta's, to part of their management, from Lawrence Epstein to Peter Dropick, and it's friendly. It was a situation that didn't work out, but bygones are bygones. It was a strange situation that no one really created in and of themselves, so you move on and look for the next opportunity. Certainly the summer is out of the question. That doesn't give anyone sufficient time to really ramp up. So it would either be late this year or in 2014, unless lightning struck and a deal fell into our laps that made sense immediately. I think more likely it's late 2013 or 2014."

Strikeforce went in like a lion and out like a lamb, holding its final event on Showtime earlier this year in Oklahoma (watch former CEO Scott Coker reflect on his loss here). ZUFFA purchased the rival promotion in early 2011 and slowly but surely pillaged its roster until there was but a handful of names remaining.

All while UFC President Dana White shared his disdain for the "donkeys" that run Showtime.

MMA is still a hot commodity and the network -- which recently acquired the rights to boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- is looking to ride the wave. Or at least get its feet wet, using a smaller promotion that is heavy on talent but light on baggage.

But would you subscribe to Showtime to watch Invicta fights?

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