As MMA has grown from spectacle to mainstream sport, one thing that has been a constant is the entertainment factor. Early MMA events thrived on clashes of styles, whereas more recent times have been dominated by personalities.
Looking to build off the entertainment base in MMA is the LFC. An all-female promotion that started as a TV only production but has quickly grown to hosting live events, featuring athletes from a wide array of sports to present a different take on cage fighting.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, LFC CEO Shaun Donnelly discussed his company’s origins, clearing up the confusion about what the promotion does, and its upcoming Kansas City debut on July 8.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Shaun, tell us how the LFC came together and how has the version we see today compare to the original concept for it.
Shaun Donnelly: I had created a weekly MMA TV series called “Friday Night Fights” for KoldKast and YouToo (America) a few years ago and was watching a ton of women’s MMA as I selected fights to include in the show. One day I was editing a fight between Kim Couture and an unknown Calgary fighter named Sheila Bird – the fight would end with Couture nearly dying – and this idea came to me to have girls who looked like ring girls fight in lingerie with rules that would protect them from sharing the same fate as Couture.
I called some cable contacts and instantly there was interest so I returned to Vegas and began putting it together – as a mockumentary. This involved shooting in a green screen studio and months of post-production. While we were editing it our social media started to blow up – we became the third most popular MMA league on Facebook in under a month.
With so many people asking where they could buy tickets and the cable systems wanting new content we decided it was easier to become a real league than shoot in studio. Our first live show was LFC 19: Hadden vs Mee – we had started with LFC 18 because I thought it would be more interesting to jump in on an existing promotion than a new one – and we’ve been live ever since.
MMAWeekly.com: For fans that have not seen the LFC yet, how would you compare it to MMA or to something like shoot wrestling?
Shaun Donnelly: Our slogan is “a little bit of MMA, a little bit of wrestling, and a little bit of clothing” and that very accurately describes our show. Our fights are a combination of real MMA with real wrestling. Some people assume it’s pro-wrestling because a lot of our fighters come from that world but the results aren’t scripted and the girls really fight.
We’ve just put in rules to protect them from damaging their faces (as) many of our cast are models and can’t afford to show up for a shoot with a black eye. And they go into each fight more concerned with putting on a great show than killing their opponent. Our fighters have big personalities that shine through and that is definitely something we’ve borrowed from the pro-wrestling world.
MMAWeekly.com: What sort of backgrounds do the participants have? For any who do not have combat sports experience, how are they prepared for the LFC?
Shaun Donnelly: Most of our fighters have very strong athletic backgrounds. We have a former Olympic gymnast, a former champion bodybuilder, lingerie football players, college athletes, track stars, you name it. All are actively training in mixed martial arts. It isn’t enough just to look great in lingerie – you have to be very fit and athletic or you will get hurt.
MMAWeekly.com: What are some things fans should look out for at the upcoming LFC 23 show?
Shaun Donnelly: LFC 23: Guilty Pleasures will take place Saturday, July 8, at Soccer Nation KC in Kansas City. It is the first event that doesn’t feature Feather “The Hammer” Hadden defending her title.
Despite successfully defending her belt at LFC 22, Hadden suffered career ending injuries in her fight with Shay “The Fox” Mazzato including a broken nose, concussion and severely broken foot that required surgery. Mazzato will take on Mexico’s Monica “Flowerbomb” Garcia for the vacant title.
Other notable fights will see Romanian Olympic gymnast Andreea “The Storm” Vladoi taking on Holly “The Lotus” Mei, and current LFC President Maxine “The Boss” Frost coming out of retirement to rematch Serina “Honey Punch” Kyle who she beat at LFC 19. Many believe Kyle would have won the fight if she hadn’t torn her MCL in the first round.
The event will also feature two brand new hometown fighters drafted by the two teams via a contest – one from KS and one from MO.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Shaun, is there anything you would like to add in closing?
Shaun Donnelly: Thank you for your interest in the LFC. We are very excited for the upcoming show.