UFC 239: Pannie Kianzad Leaving Door Open for Featherweight Return

UFC 239’s Pannie Kianzad is walking around a bit lighter of late, but she’s not ruling out a return to the featherweight division in future.

Las Vegas, NV — After joining the UFC following The Ultimate Fighter 28, where she competed as a featherweight, Pannie Kianzad is getting the full experience this time around. Competing at UFC 239, she’s appearing on the biggest show of the year, part of the promotion’s International Fight Week.

Kianzad’s return comes as a short notice replacement for Melissa Gatto, who was forced out of her fight against Julia Avila. It’s a second chance for the former Invicta fighter, who lost in the TUF 28 Finale to Macy Chiasson, and was not signed on for a UFC deal.

Instead, she fought once outside the promotion, earning a win over Iony Razafiarison, and is now returning to bantamweight as her second look in the UFC begins. Which is where she will be at UFC 239.

You might remember Kianzad as the featherweight who suffered had a little dental mishap on TUF 28. “I was thinking like this: First shot I get on TV, one weekend, I knock out my own tooth, my front tooth.” she exclaimed to Cageside Press Wednesday, during the UFC 239 media day. “I was like, ‘just my luck!'”

The tooth was replaced, however, and if you didn’t know, you could never tell. At least now she won’t have to worry about it as she returns to the UFC, this time at bantamweight. But asked if 135lbs was her more natural weight class, Kianzad insisted she enjoys both divisions.

“I love doing both. I don’t believe in being the biggest one in the weight class, I really don’t,” she told us. “I would love to do 145 again.”

There remains a real lack of bodies in the featherweight division. Felicia Anderson is paired up against Cris Cyborg later this month at UFC 240. Amanda Nunes has the belt. Megan Anderson is still out there. That’s about it. However, that works out fine for Pannie. “I mean, just the way this year has been, I’m walking pretty low,” she admitted. “I’m walking [around at] 145 sometimes, not over 150. So I feel like, when I got this opportunity, I was ready.”

Opponent Julia Avila is not someone she’s sweating. “I don’t see anything especially as a threat. I think we’re both really good martial artists. I have stuff that she is less good at, and she has stuff that maybe I’m less good at,” Kianzad observed. “We’re going to see that in the cage. She’s a strong opponent, but I bring some heat.”

As for her prediction, it’s a decision. “Honestly I think I’m going to go all three rounds. My cardio’s sick.”

UFC 239 takes place Saturday, July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.