Katja Kankaanpaa – Finland’s Killer Bunny

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“I have prepared myself to everything that I think she has to offer”

This weekend Finland’s Katja Kankaanpaa is over in Kansas City were she will make her third appearance under the Invicta banner as she meets Stephanie Eggink for the vacant Strawweight Championship. 

Kankaanpaa has been a professional since 2010 and has risen towards the top, competing ten times and putting together a record of 9-1. Whether it be on the ground or the feet she truly lives up to her nickname: Killer Bunny.  It’s a very unique nickname and one that came from having her own pet bunny and eventually it stuck for her as well. 

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“I had pet bunny called Alice that time. She was housebroken and when we was home, she could jump free around the house. Alice didn’t stand other female bunnies and one time me and my husband were visiting one of our friends who also had a female bunny. After we got back to home, I said to my husband that we have to change our clothes so Alice won’t smell the other bunny. My husband didn’t change his jeans and it didn’t take long when Alice noticed the smell and attacked my husband and he got bit on his ankle. After that we started call her Killer Bunny and eventually it came my nickname too”.

As mentioned this weekend see’s her make her third appearance under the Invicta banner. The first time fans got to see her compete on the show was April 2013 when she defeated Juliana de Lima Carneiro, via unanimous decision, at Invicta FC 5. 

She then took on Joanne Calderwood at Invicta 7, in December 2013, and lost via unanimous decision, but this hasn’t stopped the ‘Killer Bunny’ and has been so happy competing on their promotion so far. 

“I have had so much fun traveling to the States and fighting in Invicta. They take very good care of their fighters. I’m very happy that I can be part of the Invicta. And i think that if i weren’t Invicta fighter i would have missed out a lot”.

Credit: Sherdog

Credit: Sherdog

Katjia is part of the Strawweight division and finds herself in a very unique position, as she gets a shot at the vacant Invicta Strawweight championship.  The championship was vacated by Carla Esparza in December, so that she could commit to the UFC and sign up for The Ultimate Fighter’s 20th season.

Carla has been the only Invicta Strawweight champion so far, so this weekend could see Katja take home the gold and winning the title would make her very happy and is something she has been working towards for a while. 

“It would mean a lot because I have done so much work to get to this point. I’m happy that things have gone the way they have and I have chance to fight for the title. One of my dreams come true”.

On the night she meets Stephanie ‘Snowflake’ Eggink, who is 4-1 in her professional career. So far with her wins she has got two submissions and two decision victories but comes into the sport with a boxing background. It’s fair to say that she is a well rounded competitor who will be ready for anything on the night, especially with it being her debut and wanting to make a statement. 

However Katja has taken on and defeated many tough opponents in her career and has seen what Stephanie has to offer and she believes that she will have enough to defeat the Snowflake. 

“I have watched a couple of fight videos of her. Obviously she is former boxer but not bad in the ground either. She moves pretty well in the cage and she is taller than me. She has reach advantage of me. I have prepared myself to everything that I think she has to offer”.

Credit: Sherdog

Credit: Sherdog

Katja has fought once so far this year, in May, when she defeated Alyona Rassohyna, via second round Submission (Armbar), on the LFN 10 show in Finland. 

This differs to Eggink who last competed in September 2013, so with Katja fighting on the Invicta card in December,  she has been in competitive action more than her opponent, which could definitely play a part. 

As she explains, she believes there is two areas she will be stronger in on the night, mixed in with her having more competitive action. 

“In the clinch and the ground, but I don’t know if she is in rust and what her condition is, but I think that the longer time you have between fights it’s gonna be bit harder, so advantage is on me.”

Alongside competing Katja also has a day job, so she has to find a balance between her training and work life, something which is very commendable and shows just how much she commits to keep developing her career. But it is easy for her too do with a supportive family and very good team behind her, who are definitely her big influences. 

Credit: Dolly Clew (Cage Warriors)

Credit: Dolly Clew (Cage Warriors)

“I have very good team behind me so I say my manager and coaches. They have believe in me and push me forward.

I have trained two months for this fight. I have day job so usually I  train just one time a day. Few times a week I train two times a day and go bit later to work”.

Throughout her career so far Katja has taken on some very tough opponents, in particular Aisling Daly and Joanne Calderwood who both got a slot on the ultimate fighter season 20. Though she lost to Joanne, she defeated Aisling Daly on New Years Eve 2012, in Aisling’s home country of Ireland, via unanimous decision. 

It is more than fair to say that Katja can mix it with the top competitors in the world and the UFC surely has to be a possibility one day. 

“It’s possible😉 If they need good fighters, I think i’m top of the list”.

Finland’s Killer Bunny sums it up perfectly and I am sure she will get a call sometime soon for the promotion, but for now the focus is all on the Invicta Strawweight Championship and is one which is a very realistic goal for her. She has experienced so much in her career so far and is not a one dimensional. She is somebody who will trouble her opponents where ever the fights go and don’t be surprised to see her take the Strawweight championship back to Europe.

Photo Credit: Sherdog

Photo Credit: Sherdog

Katja would like to thank:

“My team, family and sponsors. Also thanks to Invicta FC for opportunity to fight for the title. All the fans, don’t miss the upcoming event. There’s gonna be awesome fights in Invicta FC 8”.

You can keep up to date with Katja at:

https://twitter.com/KillerBunny_MMA

https://www.facebook.com/KillerBunnyMMA

(I would also like to thank Katja for taking the time out to answer my questions and giving me the chance to put this piece together). 

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