Last Saturday, Pannie Kianzad suffered her first loss of her career at the hands of Tonya Evinger. The Sweden-based fighter out of Rumble Sports did not make weight for her title fight, and appeared unfocused as she stepped into the cage for the Invicta FC 14 main event. All that was heard from Kianzad was a short statement at the post-fight press conference saying ‘I wasn’t there in the fight’. With no further explanations or follow-up interviews, the following is an account from Rumble Sports coach Tue Trnka, given with permission from Kianzad:
As Pannie Kianzad’s coach and manager, I feel that my most important job is to protect her in every possible way I can. As rumors are starting to spread, I have decided to break the silence regarding what went down at Invicta FC 14 in Kansas City. I hope that being open about what happened will provide Pannie the space that I believe she needs.
It is very important for me to state, that this is in no way meant as any kind of excuse for Pannie, like I’m also not trying in any way to take something away from Tonya Evinger and her team. She put on a terrific performance, and I have only positive things to say about her and her team. Job well done!
In short, this is what happened: Two hours before the weigh-in, for some reason Pannie decided, that she was done fighting. She did not want to make the weight and she would not fight. We had almost four hours to get rid of the remaining 750 grams, which should be a walk in the park, but she declined giving it a try. This was the biggest fight of her career. I thought her preparations and everything else went just perfect leading up to Friday morning, so of course the entire team was mystified with her actions and choices.
After some drama after the weigh-ins, though, she firmly stated several times, that she was going to fight and give it her all, and I actually believed her.
On fight day she said that she was determined to deliver a strong performance. Leading up to the fight, I wasn’t quite sure what to believe, and the thought of canceling the fight did cross my mind. She answered me firmly about wanting to fight several times, though, so I decided to support her the best I could, as the team was trying to lift the spirit and create the usual fun atmosphere, we always bring. I was clinging on to a hope, that she would give it her all, but walking into the arena, I could not recognize her body language and I kind of knew, what was going to happen.
However, even though she went through with the fight – to save the show, I guess – it was pretty obvious for everyone to see, that she wasn’t even trying. She was surviving and defending herself, but she never really did anything that I would consider “fighting”. This wasn’t your average ”sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” scenario.
Pannie suffered from some sort of mental break down, and I honestly don’t know why. It is easy to speculate and try to figure out what went wrong, but that will not make any difference.
Her actions hurt a lot of people including her opponent, Tonya Evinger, the promoter, Shannon Knapp, and the rest of the Invicta crew, all of the fans and our team. More than anything, though, Pannie really hurt herself. Invicta FC 14 was her big shot. This was the fight she had begged me for.
At this point, I honestly don’t know if she is actually done fighting or not, but that is not what is important to me right now. I want to support her in whatever decision she makes.
I’d like to politely ask the MMA media and the fans to give her some space for the time being. I hope you can respect that, and whatever questions you may have, you are all more than welcome to direct them at me instead.
Pannie has full support from our team and everyone at Rumble Sports, and we all hope to see her back on her feet as soon as possible.