Since the early days of Invicta FC, fighters have come to weigh-ins in full costume. Over the years, athletes have dressed as everything from Disney princesses to video game characters. The weigh-in costume tradition dates back to the promotion's first year in business, a cute nuance that sets Invicta apart from the UFC.
Make no mistake: It's a ton of fun, allowing the fighters to show some personality and creativity while providing fans with some goofy entertainment. But is there more to the equation than just fighters trying to have a good time? Could it be a subtle rebellion against the UFC's outfitting policy, which essentially prohibits competitors from wearing anything other than Reebok gear at company events?
AXS caught up with MMA pioneers Roxanne Modafferi and Shayna Baszler, to try to get some answers on the topic. According to Baszler, she was the one who started it all. "The Queen of Spades" tweeted that the lightsaber she donned at the Invicta FC 2 weigh-in was the first piece of the movement, setting the tone for things to come.
Baszler also told an AXS contributor, via Twitter, that she would have done more costume-wise had early weigh-ins existed at the time. Whether the legend actually inspired others to get creative at Invicta weigh-ins is up for debate, but there's no doubt the situation did escalate following her appearance at the second Invicta. It could be argued that Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig were actually the ones who started the Invicta costume-wearing tradition because they showed up to Invicta FC 7 totally swagged out. Torres dressed as a Christmas elf, while Herrig appeared as Rosie the Riveter. Since a lightsaber is a prop and not an actual costume, it's open for debate if it was Torres and Herrig -- or really Baszler -- who started the movement.
What we do know is that the action really got rolling with the roster addition of Modafferi at Invicta FC 8. "My first costume was a Jedi robe because I wanted to show that I was a proud Padawan student of Jedi master John Wood," Modafferi explained. "For my next fight, I bought him a robe as well. Then I did [Princess Leia], then got into Mortal Kombat characters. Finally, I did She-Ra and He-Man. I also did Naruto, one of my favorite anime characters. I just want to show some of my personality, to make it interesting and memorable. I also have fun with it."
Invicta FC 10 marked the promotional debut of Rachael Ostovich, who showed up to the weigh-ins in a Wonder Woman outfit. And with Modafferi also on the card, in costume, it was clear a new trend was growing. It's perhaps no coincidence that Jihn Yu Frey also competed at this event, as she would go on to appear in costume at every other Invicta show she was on. Is it possible she was influenced and inspired by the Ostovich and Modafferi costumes? Seems likely.
As the calendar turned to 2016, it was Angela Hill who kept the good times rolling at Invicta FC weigh-ins. Over the course of four fights that year, she showed her creativity by dressing as Afro Samurai, a character from "The Warriors," and Dhalsim from Street Fighter II. Other Invicta FC weigh-in costume highlights over the years include Cindy Dandois as Elsa from Disney's Frozen, Shannon Knapp as Dana White and Julie Kedzie as Joe Silva.
Continuing on the Invicta costume tradition was Brittney Cloudy, who showed up to Invicta FC 30 as the comic book character, Storm. Frey also appeared as Wonder Woman at the latest event. All the athletes AXS spoke to on the matter said they were just trying to have fun. There didn't appear to be any secret agenda, or attempt to make a statement against the UFC's outfitting policy.
"In the case of my former Keishukai teammates, many liked to show their unique personalities and cosplayed something to walk out to the ring," Modafferi said. "They did anime or pro wrestling characters or something. Fighters in Pride hired dancing girls or performers to walk out with them. I wanted to do something special like that, but I knew I would be too nervous on fight day and wanting to focus on the fight, so I decided to do something for weigh-in day."
Hopefully, Invicta FC's athletes will keep the costume-wearing tradition up for many years to come. It's one of the last remaining outlets in MMA today for fighters to show their flair.