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Pannie Kianzad on Invicta, New Nickname, Katie Taylor and More

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Pannie Kianzad is one of the most well-known fighters on the Invicta FC roster and is renowned for her crowd pleasing fighting style. Holding a professional record of 8 – 1 at the age of just 24, the Swedish standout is considered to have a very bright future in MMA ahead of her.

Kianzad does not currently have a fight scheduled, but she is happy with how her training is going. “Training right now is amazing,” she smiled. “I’m totally injury free; it’s weird to say it but I have no injuries, no pain. It has been really bad because when I was getting back into camp, my back totally went out – I had bulging discs in my lower back. They (doctors) told me ‘no MMA for two months’, so I did my rehab every day and I’m totally fine now.”

Kianzad suffered the first loss of her professional career to Tonya Evinger for the Invicta bantamweight title in September 2015, but she has taken the loss with a level of maturity far beyond her years. “It was my first full contact loss since 2011,” she began. “If I don’t do my work, if I don’t do my best and I don’t deserve my win, then why should I win? And I didn’t perform that night so I just take it as a learning experience. I mean, I don’t know many 24-year-olds with an 8 – 1 record so, I don’t really mind, I just really want to get back in there.

Kianzad trains out of Rumble Sports in Denmark, a gym that houses current UFC fighters such as Nicolas Dalby, Damir Hadzovic and Anna Elmose. She knows she is in the right place to further her career and spoke highly of the gym. “At Rumble Sports we do produce, not only good fighters at the moment, but we’ve always produced good fighters,” she said. “I mean, (Nicolas) Dalby has been competing for 10-12 years, we have Mats Nilsson who was our first UFC fighter and we have two females (Kianzad and Elmose) who compete at the highest level.

Of course, with the link between Invicta and the UFC, many wonder when we will see Kianzad in the world-famous octagon. Every fighter has such ambitions, but Kianzad is biding her time. “I would say of course it’s always a goal,” she explained. “But I think that all of the organisations before you get to the UFC is actually the most important part because if the other organisations weren’t there, nobody would come to the UFC.

Recently, Kianzad was in Rotterdam for her team-mate Anna Elmose’s UFC debut. Elmose faced home crowd favourite Germaine de Randamie at that event, and Kianzad explained that fighting away from home is something that she personally enjoys. “I’m always a big fan of fighting outside my home country, I like to be the underdog coming to another country. I would rather fight a home fighter than be the one fighting in Sweden.” Kianzad did go on to say that she would, one day, like to have the experience of fighting for the UFC in her home country. “Of course, it’s always been a dream to fight in the biggest league in the world and fight in Sweden. I would always be dreaming of, not in my debut, but doing a UFC fight in Stockholm or somewhere in Sweden. And I think I’d deserve it. I don’t think one defeat says everything about me, because I think Invicta produces fighters as good as in the UFC – most of their bantamweight and strawweight roster in from Invicta.

Kianzad went on to elaborate about her future. “I just think it’s a matter of time when it comes to signing for the UFC,” she stated. “So I’m not really waiting for anything, I’m just fighting my way up until it happens. As long as I get to fight and fight good opponents I’m happy.

In this ever-growing sport of MMA, female fighters are becoming more and more prominent. The term ‘women’s MMA’ has become popularised, but it is not a term that Kianzad uses. “I don’t like it,” she explained. “It’s got nothing to do with feminism or anything like that. It’s just, aren’t we doing the same sport?” With that said, the topic of the impact Invicta FC is having on the sport of MMA as a whole came up, and Kianzad spoke in glowing terms about the organisation and its president, Shannon Knapp. “MMA has been a super manly dominated world and Invicta are showing it is not only manly dominated, but that it’s for everybody. I think when Invicta came along, people were super interested and were like ‘f*ck, these girls are as good as the guys’. It’s not about what gender you are, it’s about how good of a fighter you are.

A common theme of Kianzad’s social media is that of one of her obsessions – pugs. Her face lit up when she spoke about them and explained her love of the dog breed. “I am totally in love with pugs! Like, I could actually die when I see one. I have pug shirts, pug socks, everything with pugs on them. I haven’t got one yet, but when I get my own one I’m going to dress it up in all different kinds of stuff, like a lamb suit.

As Kianzad came from a boxing background, a fighter she hugely admires is Ireland’s 2012 Olympic gold medallist, Katie Taylor. “She’s amazing,” Kianzad enthused. “Before I got into MMA, my career started in boxing in 2005. I’m always watching the Olympics, World Championships, Europeans and she was the first and biggest name I heard when I started boxing. I think she’s amazing and I’m really happy to see that it’s going well for her.”

Back to her MMA career, and Kianzad said, while she has no date or opponent confirmed yet, she is itching to get back into the cage and fighting again. “I’m just waiting, waiting, waiting,” she started. “Staying in shape and waiting.  I’ll fight whoever. I talked a bit in Rotterdam with Cindy Dandois, we both want to fight and we’re happy to fight each other. I was hoping for (Irene) Aldana as well, but for me, it doesn’t really matter, I just want to get a good match-up and to fight, so I’m not picky. So everyone tweet that you want Pannie on the card!

Recently, Kianzad has been introduced as Pannie “Sexy Scramble” Kianzad, due to the grappling positions she sometimes finds herself in. However, she had an announcement to make regarding that very topic. “For my next fight, I’m going back to my roots,” she announced. “I’m going back to my first nickname. I’m going back to ‘Banzai’. I just feel like that’s more me, it’s where I came from, and I want it back, so spread it all over the world.

In closing, Kianzad had a message for her fans. “I just want to say thank you to the fans for asking really cool questions and for always supporting me. After I lost my fight, I felt, you know, as an athlete you always think that you’re going to be forgotten or that people will forget what you’ve accomplished. I’m trying to rebuild myself and been going through a lot of personal sh*t, so I just want to say thank you to everybody who has continued to support me all the way.”

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Exclusive: Curtis Blaydes on Francis Ngannou: “He’s not the cleanest striker but he is very powerful”

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The last time fans saw Curtis Blaydes in the Octagon was against Oleksiy Oliynyk at UFC 217. Blayes ended up winning the fight via a weird stoppage. In the second round of their fight, Blaydes got up from Oliynik’s guard and threw an illegal soccer kick aimed at his opponents head. Although the kick didn’t land, the referee stopped the fight and had the doctor check out Oliynyk. Oliynyk informed the doctor that he was unable to continue and the referee called a stop to the fight. The fight was ruled a TKO win for Blaydes in what proved to be a lackluster ending.

Even with the fight ending the way it did, it didn’t seem to take anything away from Blaydes’ victory. “No,” Blaydes told MMA Latest. “I was winning the fight. I would of won, anyone who says otherwise is just irritating. I don’t think the weird ending has anything to do with how the fight was going.”

Although Blaydes has moved on from his fight with Oliynek, one man who hasn’t moved on from a fight with Blaydes is new UFC signee and DWTNCS alum, Allen Crowder. Crowder has been calling out Blaydes in almost every interview he’s done so far. The Mebane, North Carolina native first fought Blaydes in April 2015, with Blaydes winning by TKO in the second round. “He’s not worth it,” Blaydes said. “If anyone wants to watch the video of our last fight they can look it up, it wasn’t much of a fight.”

Speaking of former opponents, Blaydes also represents the only fighter in the UFC to have gone toe to toe with Francis Ngannou without having his lights shut off. The Chicago native wound up with a closed eye and the doctors were forced to step in and stop the fight. But unlike Ngannou’s former opponents, Blaydes was able to experience the power first hand without going to sleep. “He has been getting a lot of hype but he is extremely powerful, Blaydes said. “I won’t- I’m not going to be a sore loser and downgrade all the things he does, but he is a powerful striker. He’s not the cleanest striker but he is very powerful.”

Ngannou was able to successfully able to shed the prospect label after he knocked out Overeem and punched (pun intended) his ticket to a title shot. Meanwhile, Blaydes believes he’s shed the prospect label himself after winning four straight in the UFC. “I mean I think so, but I guess it’s not for me to say,” Blaydes said. “It’s up to the audience and the media to say. I wasn’t the one who gave myself the prospect label in the beginning so it’s just up to the people who gave it to take it away.”

After four straight wins, three in 2017, Blaydes goals heading into 2018 remain simple. “To get better every fight, just trying to climb the rankings.”

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UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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Exclusive: Alexander Gustafsson eyeing summer 2018 return- wants title shot next

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Top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson hasn’t fought since an impressive knockout win back in May, against Glover Teixeira. “The Mauler” is currently on a two-fight winning streak, and for many people, is seen as one of the most logical names to fight for the title next.

Currently absent from the Octagon since May, speaking to MMA Latest, “The Mauler” explains why he’s been on such a long layoff. “I have had an injury in my shoulder,” Gustafsson told MMA Latest. “I had a surgery a couple of months back where they put in a titanium plate to keep my collarbone in place. But that plate was taken out last week so I am back to training and slowly but surely getting better with all the rehab. I’m excited to be back in the Octagon soon.”

After so many obstacles, Gustafsson details when we can expect him back in the cage. “If everything goes well with rehab, I’ll be back in the octagon in the beginning of the summer – right in time for the next title match!”

Volkan Oezdemir was calling out Gustafsson for a European number one contender fight, Gustafsson explains he was never interested in the fight. “No, my prior goal and my only interest is the title fight,” Gustafsson said. “If Volkan wins against DC he will probably be my next opponent.”

The title fight is “absolutely” what Gustafsson believes is next for him and don’t expect to see him in a number one contender fight first. “As I said previously, the title fight is my number one interest.”

With Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir fighting for the title at UFC 220, Gustafsson shares his thoughts on the matchup. “It’s an exciting matchup – DC is the more experienced fighter and he is a more complete fighter than Volkan,” Gustafsson said. “DC has also been in this situation before, Volkan has not.”

Back in July, Jon Jones failed his second test for PED’s after beating Daniel Cormier to regain his light heavyweight belt. Before the fights with Daniel Cormier, Jones went to war with Gustafsson back in 2013. Gustafsson shares his thoughts on Jones’ second failed test. “Disastrous is my first thought,” Gustafsson explains. “But for the sport, it is good that the truth is out. I wish Jon good luck in his rehab and he is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC.”

Gustafsson was also asked if he eyeing a rematch with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones before the end of his career. “Of course, I feel good and I’m motivated,” Gustafsson said. “I would like to get the opportunity to match up against both DC and Jon before I retire.”

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