Pannie Kianzad is one of the top bantamweight women’s MMA prospects in the world. She is the former Cage Warriors women’s bantamweight champion and holds a career record of 8-2. “Banzai” boasts wins over the likes of former UFC contender Milana Dudieva, current UFC fighter Lina Lansberg, rising Australian Jessica-Rose Clark and Annalisa Bucci. Having dropped her last two fights under the Invicta FC banner, Pannie is currently finding it difficult to book a fight. She recently took some time off to answer a few questions about her personal life, future, thoughts on the position of women in the MMA world and more.
When you look back at the early success of your MMA career and now see the low phase, how does it affect you? How do you manage to stay positive?
It’s hard to explain. I mean, nothing goes exactly like planned. I didn’t understand much stuff before that I do now. I didn’t know I was surrounded by people that didn’t really want my best, but just used me for the occasion. I did learn that the hard way. But that hasn’t got anything to do with my two losses inside the cage. Despite all that, I should and could have got shit done. I’m better than that. I will learn from this. However, my opponents were better than me those nights, period. I not leaving my old team sooner was my own fault. I was too comfortable and scared of changes. I thought, if I leave, I will not get better and I will only lose. That’s only bullshit. I have never felt better. I’m so much better today than when I was undefeated. Have I lost? Yes. Have I lost to top 10 in the world? Yes. Will I revenge my defeats? Yes. I’m 25-years-old with 11 years of martial arts training behind me. I’m years ahead of all these girls. That will play a big factor within 2 years. I say this because I know I’m being doubted. And I freaking love it. I have beat UFC, Bellator fighters, and undefeated Russian prospects, whatever. Nothing matters. Even the best have lost. It’s just such a small step in the way. I thought I would never fight again after dealing with eating disorders and bad injuries. But I’m here, poor as fuck, traveling three hours a day to get the best training in Scandinavia there is and I won’t fucking complain. If that’s the way it needs to be for me to reach my final goal then so be it.
In most of your fights you are the underdog. What is your take on this? Does the fact that people underestimate you affect you at all?
I think I’m usually the underdog because I don’t necessarily finish fights. I just dominate the fuck out of people with technique. I actually rather do that. I like showing all my skills and I don’t mind being an underdog. It makes the victory sweeter.
You haven’t fought since losing to Raquel Pa’aluhi back in January. What are your next plans? Which type of opponent would you prefer?
I wanted to get back in there right after my loss to Raquel. I just didn’t get any fights. I have been ready all this time. But it’s all good so far. I have gotten more comfortable with my new team Arte Suave in Copenhagen. But I’m ready to get back in there. I don’t like to choose anything when it comes to opponents. I will fight whatever they put in front of me. It’s unfortunate that a lot of chicks in MMA like to choose after the occasion they are looking for. Like they all are champs or something. They are not. I won the first ever Cage Warriors belt for women, but you don’t see me playing all that and picking fights. All these bitches wants to make UFC callouts on their Facebook pages and all over social media but they turn down fights as soon as it’s a competition.
An opinion which comes out again and again is that MMA isn’t meant for women. As someone who practices MMA and has many fans, what are your thoughts of people who refuse to accept that women too can fight?
I stopped thinking about that many years ago. If somebody doesn’t like to see women fight, then turn of the TV or throw away your computer. Nobody cares what they think anyway. I don’t like to see a lot of guys fighting either, but then I just don’t watch it, as simple as that.
Women’s MMA has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. What are your thoughts on the evolution of women’s MMA? Do you think that women MMA fighters have cemented their spot in the mainstream media?
It’s getting bigger with the females, but sometimes it’s for the wrong turn. Too many girls get contracts out of their looks and not their experience and how the fuck they fight. It’s like, Hey! you are fuckable, dating your coach and can twerk, want a UFC contract and loads of cash? SURE.
Who do you think are the top five greatest women MMA fighters of all time, women who have not only given exemplary performance in their fights but have also helped in the growth of the sport and have made it possible for women to have their place in some of the biggest MMA promotions? Why?
Cris Cyborg, Marloes Connen, Kedzie, Megumi, Kaufman. If u are a MMA fan, you would know why.
How is your professional wrestling career going?
It’s kind of on a hold because i’m only focusing on my MMA at the moment.
Last time we spoke about the immigration problem in Sweden. Has the situation since then changed?
Nope. Not really. It’s become worse to be honest. We don’t seem to come to an agreement that all people should be treated with dignity and respect.
In our last interview you stated that you do not have any views on the fighter union. What do you think of it now?
I’m not sure if it would even benefit me at the moment. Maybe when I get some fights again.
-Photo credit: Scott Hirano, Invicta FC