TUF finalist Pannie Kianzad back in the UFC!

✅ Controversially released from the UFC following the TUF finale  ✅ The Swede now returns for a bout at international fight week

One fighters loss is another’s gain – even outside of the fight. UFC featherweight Melissa Gatto was slated to fight Julia Avila (6-1) at UFC 239 next Saturday during international fight week. However she has now been forced out of the bout due to undisclosed reasons, and will be replaced by returning TUF finalist Pannie “Banzai” Kianzad (11-4). MMA Junkie first reported the change and MMAnytt later confirmed it.

One of Scandinavia’s biggest stars

Kianzad is born in Iran, raised in southern Sweden and trains at Arte Suave in Denmark. During the beginning of her career she amassed an undefeated record including wins over Lina Länsberg, Milana Dudieva, and capturing the Cage Warriors bantamweight title. After three straight losses in Invicta FC, to established veterans like Tonya Evinger and Sarah Kaufman, Kianzad bounced back with a win over Bianca Daimoni, followed up with a win over Kerry Hughes and later entered The Ultimate Fighter.

“Banzai” won all her fights in TUF and made it to the finals to face team mate Macy Chiasson. Despite a few good moments in the fight the Iranian-born Swede succumbed to a rear naked choke in the second round, and was later released by the UFC – shocking the MMA community. Since then Kianzad bounced back with a win over Bellator veteran Iony Razafiarson at Superior Challenge 19.

Despite being less experienced Avila has impressive credentials, with a 2-0 record as an amateur and wins over veteran Marion Reneau and former UFC champion Nicco Montaño in her first three fights. After a loss to TUF contestant Marceia Allen she has since re-entered the win column with two straight wins.

UFC 239 takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 6th.



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With roots in muay thai and as an avid combat sports fan, Sebastian Vendel-Martinez grew up while the MMA scene was blossoming in Sweden. He became part of the MMAnytt team in 2012 and has gone on to become one of the most prominent MMA reporters in Scandinavia. Currently he continues to work as a writer, reporter, video producer/editor and head editor for MMAnytt.com