Friday August 28, 2015– Being champion is nice for Tonya Evinger, and she enjoys sharing her title belt with her teammates and coaches. But that’s not what ultimately drives Invicta FC’s reigning bantamweight champion.
“It’s about winning every single fight,” Evinger said. “I want to beat everybody.”
Evinger looks to extend her current seven-fight win streak as she makes her first title defense against Pannie Kianzad at Invicta FC 14 on Sept. 12. While winning every one of her fights is her primary motivation, Evinger is also eager to teach Kianzad a lesson and make sure she never wants to fight Evinger again.
“I feel like she’s taking me lightly,” Evinger said, adding that she hears Kianzad has called out other top fighters in Invicta, as well as Evinger. Since she considers herself a pure mixed martial arts fighter who’s “good at everything,” fans shouldn’t expect a technical masterpiece between Evinger and Kianzad on Sept. 12.
“I go out to fight and do as much damage as I can in a short amount of time,” Evinger said. “I never want to go to a decision.”
While Evinger has faced some of the best female fighters in the sport, including Gina Carano, Alexis Davis, Julie Kedzie and Sara McMann, and competed for a spot on season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” but came up short against Raquel Pennington, Evinger has not yet joined other women’s bantamweight fighters who made the jump to UFC. She’s not entirely sure it’s because of her performances, either.
“There seems to be some kind of personal issue between me and some people in UFC,” Evinger said. “But I won’t sit and beg for someone to sign me. I’m ranked a lot higher than a lot of those girls [in UFC] and I’m better than them.”
Evinger has also been vocal in the past about the UFC not being as invested in women’s MMA as it might seem, despite the emergence of UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
“They really lucked out with [Jedrzejczyk],” Evinger said, adding that she watched the season of “The Ultimate Fighter” that introduced the women’s strawweight division, but came away unimpressed with that group of fighters.
“But Joanna comes to knock you out,” Evinger said.
Evinger also believes that the UFC is putting all of their eggs in the basket of Rousey and certain other female fighters, at the cost of promoting the women’s bantamweight division. When the UFC did the same thing in its early days by exclusively promoting fighters like B.J. Penn and Tito Ortiz, Evinger said, fans had no idea who the next crop of fighters were once Penn, Ortiz and others left the company.
Evinger credits Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp for finding new ways to promote her fighters, including partnering with social media outlets like Instagram.
“It’s not about rankings, it’s about style vs. style,” Evinger said. “I think there are girls out there that can beat Ronda.”
Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also opines on various topics within UFC, Bellator and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.
Photo credit: Esther Lin, Invicta FC
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