Shannon Knapp, also known affectionately as “Bas’ Little Sis,” has been hired by the UFC to work on their upcoming August shows. Knapp is no stranger to MMA Weekly readers as she has worked with us on video segments and has been profiled here as someone to watch for in the industry. And now she has been given her opportunity in the major leagues of MMA.
When asked about her new job with the UFC Shannon, a veteran of Sportfight and King of the Cage, commented, “I’ll be working both the live Spike TV broadcast on August 9th and the UFC 54 PPV on August 20th. From what I understand I’ll be handling the celebrity interviews and predictions and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to do some post-fight interviews with the fighters. I’m really looking forward to the experience of working for one of the top MMA promotions in the world.”
Most recently Shannon has handled broadcast duties on the Sportfight TV series which is currently airing in the northwest with hopes of being syndicated nationally. The show features fights from all previous live events segued together by Knapp and Randy Couture’s introductions and unique chemistry.
“I’ve worked for Sportfight for almost two years now,” said Knapp. “Randy Couture and I co-host the TV series that’s now airing on Comcast in the northwest and if it does well they are going to put it in other markets. Before Sportfight I had worked with KOTC, Bret Moses and Fight Party in Atlanta, and the Freestyle Fighting Championships.”
Over the years the UFC has tried unsuccessfully to integrate a female into their broadcast team. With Knapp however they have someone who is coming from a MMA background as well as a professional broadcasting background that should make for a much better experience this time around.
“I think there is always going to be people that are hard to please no matter what you do,” commented Shannon. “But I’m coming in with a lot of knowledge and experience in the industry. I’ve been the Vice President of Bas Rutten Enterprises for over three years and I run the Bas Rutten MMA System. I’ve also worked with Randy Couture as his assistant for the last several months. I’m a graduate of Brown University with honors and was accepted to the school on a broadcast scholarship that I had to compete with other top candidates to get.”
Knapp continued, “My background is in both MMA and professional commentary and broadcasting and this is what I do every day of my life. Every aspect of my life is associated with MMA, my background is specifically in the areas that will complement the broadcasts.”
When asked if she had seen the work of her predecessors and how her work with the UFC will differ, Shannon seemed sympathetic to their situations but confident she can bring a whole new aspect to the position. “Truthfully I saw Lisa Dergen, and didn’t see Carmen Electra and saw a little of Kerri Kasem, and to be honest I felt sorry for them. It’s a hard job if you’re female, I mean MMA is still very new and especially in the commentary aspect for females. The only thing I can do differently or be different in is that I actually do love the sport and come from it rather than other backgrounds. I train, live, and breathe it every day, for me MMA’s second nature.”
For Shannon working with two of the sports most beloved legends in Couture and Rutten has allowed her to have a solid support base as she takes on one of the most scrutinized positions in MMA broadcasting.
“They are my biggest supporters and they’re both very happy for me and excited that I’m getting this opportunity. What can I say, they are two of the greatest people you’ll ever meet and I know they want the best for me. Even though Bas and I have ‘sibling rivalry” between the two of us, he is one of the best commentators in the world and if I’m half as good as he is I’ll be happy.”
People looking to see Shannon in action before making her UFC debut can do so at the upcoming Sportfight 11 in Portland, Oregon on July 9th. Knapp will be handling the post-fight in-ring interviews with her Sportfight TV co-host Randy Couture at the event. This show marks the biggest ever in the company’s history as they move the show to the Rose Garden Arena, the 10,000+ capacity seating home of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers.
According to Knapp, her involvement with Sportfight will in no way effect her new position at the UFC. “Both shows run on separate schedules and neither happen the same week as the other so there shouldn’t be a problem. It’s Matt (Lindland) and Randy’s production and they do a great job with it. We’ve moved up to the Rose Garden Arena, the tickets are selling great and fight card looks really good. Randy and I interact very well with each other.”
For Shannon the opportunity to work with the UFC is both a realization of a dream come true and an opportunity to help further the roles of females in MMA in a positive manner.
“I think the UFC puts on a great production and I’m honored to be working with Dana White, the Fertitas, Joe Silva, Steve Tornebene and the whole production crew,” exclaimed Knapp. “I’m looking forward to all the learning opportunities and I hope to help move forward female involvement in the sport. The success of the UFC brings about good things for everyone involved in the sport. The more successful we are the more we bring public awareness of MMA into the mainstream. At the end of the day it’s helping gain mainstream acceptance to ensure everyone, especially fighters, is successful in this industry.”
Shannon concluded, “I always say it, but I do what I love and I love what I do. I hope the fans support the sport by watching the live show on Spike TV and the PPV broadcast. The cards the UFC put together are great. The live show especially features a lot of the best young fighters around as well as members of the TUF 1 reality series. I’m going to go out and do my best and bring what I think the fans are hoping for.”
If Shannon’s background and passionate enthusiasm about the sport aren’t enough to show what an asset she can be to the UFC, both Bas Rutten and Randy Couture were more than happy to give their thoughts on her hiring.
“I’m not surprised she’s getting this opportunity,” said Rutten. “It would have been a bad idea if they hadn’t have brought her in. She’s got the broadcasting background needed and knows MMA. I think people will be stoked when they see how well she does.”
Couture furthered those comments by saying, “It’s been my privilege and honor to work with Shannon in Sportfight and the other entities we’ve worked together on. I’m very happy for her opportunity with the UFC, it will be nice to have a female on board that understands the sport and represents it in a positive way.”