Fighting Words: Tonya Evinger
A fighter’s fighter, veteran Tonya Evinger is always looking for a fight, and next up on the list is the ever tough Ediane Gomes at Invicta FC 8 September 6th.
Corey Smith: Before you began to focus more on mixed martial arts, you actually wrestled for the US Senior Freestyle team. How do you think that prepared you for success in MMA?
Tonya Evinger: When I started MMA, there were no wrestlers coming in. I was definitely ready to fight anyone. The hard part was finding someone that wanted to fight me. I got turned down by everyone. I remember so many girls turned me down. I looked online, and I searched and searched to find anyone. Back then you couldn’t search “MMA,” you had to search no holds barred fighting or something like that.
TE: It was a little tough. No one wanted to fight me because they said I needed more experience. Which was complete BS. I think no one wanted to fight because I was a wrestler. When all the wrestlers started coming over to MMA, wrestling was a big part of their winning. Still today I think wrestlers are in the best shape. MMA fighters look the best, but I think wrestling is just a really tough sport. You grind and grind and grind.
CS: As a well respected veteran of the sport, what advice would you give to an up and coming athlete in WMMA?
TE: I think that a lot of veterans that came in when I came in have similar advice. It’s changed a lot. Now there is amateur and pro and all that. When I came in it was nothing like that, no amateur or pro, you just fought. The athletic commissions came in and made all the pro and amateur deal. It’s a little different now, but I always tell my athletes now fight every fight you can fight. Fight anyone that you can fight, win or lose as an amateur you get to start over when you go pro.
TE: So get those hard fights, those ones that pull your heart out, the ones you learn a lot from. Learn to get your butt kicked, how to defend things, what the pace is going to be like, you learn so many lessons every single fight. I think that for anyone coming in don’t be scared, just jump in there and throw down. You have nothing to lose. I fought that way myself, I think my record shows that. I’ll take any fight.
CS: As someone who has seen the growth off MMA from the beginning, what types of changes have you noticed?
TE: I just feel like I’m a fighter. I wrestled for so long. When you go to a tournament, some of them come up with stupid excuses not to fight you. They take a bye against you, and then they wrestle someone else later. So they just didn’t want to lose. That’s just stupid. When you take a bye, you lose anyways. So why not just wrestle me and take the chance.
TE: I’m a fighter. I say I’m going to fight, and I fight. I run my mouth off, but I step in there do what I say I’m going to do. I’m not an internet fighter. I don’t want to post pictures and get sponsors, then never take any fights. That’s just unacceptable.
TE: I would never let my little brothers do that, I’ve made them fight when they were sick or injured. I’ve fought with a broken hand multiple times. I’ve fought with a fractured foot one time; I’ve fought with all kinds of injuries. I tell this to my fighters all the time. They want to make excuses and all this come fight time, but it’s too late. You’re not coming in my gym and training and then telling everyone you’re a fighter, and then do all this stuff to back out last minute.
TE: You’re either a fighter or you’re not. It’s not my choice if you haven’t trained hard enough. I’ve done that, but I should have trained harder. I think I’m a good enough athlete to win every fight, but you have to be ready when you step in there. I think there are a lot of BS athletes out there.
TE: When MMA first started getting popular, everybody and their mom was a fighter. It was the biggest joke I’d ever seen. Now you see the kids that have stuck it out and are still fighting. There are just too many posers out there. I won’t be one of them. No way will I sit here and run my mouth, announce that I am going to fight everybody, and then not fight anyone because of some stupid reason.
CS: Invicta FC recently signed a content distribution deal with the UFC to broadcast all future bouts via UFC Fight Pass. What do you think the deal does for the sport of WMMA?
TE: Our internet feed was down every time, and there was always some kind of problem. Invicta has taken it a lot farther than anyone else. There are a lot of promotions out there that try to do all women’s cards, but it was set up for failure. I still think it’s really tough to promote an all female card. Invicta has the best girls in the world, and they have the top talent, but we just don’t get the coverage. I don’t really understand it.
TE: Maybe it’s the fans that don’t care, they just want to see a couple women’s fights on a male card. But I think the talent is there for Invicta to be a mainstream promotion, and be on a real cable channel or network that people can see it in abundance. I do think it is going to go up though.
TE: The women’s MMA community is very supportive. They can’t hide which women are on TUF, they can’t hide anyone because the fans know all the female fighters. The women’s community is very supportive, and everyone talks a lot and pushes the females. It’s awesome watching the girls fight. I think that Invicta is very entertaining.
CS: This past December was your first bout with Invicta FC. How has your experience been like with the company?
TE: Shannon is great. The reason they call me is because they know I take fights. They called me and I said yes. They don’t have to convince me much. When’s the card? Let’s do it. As long as it’s against a quality fighter, or an opportunity that I can’t pass up, I’m going to take that fight. I’m not going to take anything ridiculous. If you pay me well and it’s a good opportunity, hell yeah. I’m happy to be fighting again. I like fights.
CS: On September 6th at Invicta FC 8, you will be challenging Ediane Gomes as she makes her 135lb debut. How familiar are you with Gomes and what are you expecting out of the bout?
TE: To be honest, I’ve heard her name a couple times. I don’t know a lot about her, never really cared since she wasn’t in my weight class. She hasn’t really done anything to catch my eye. That might just be because she wasn’t in my weight class. When she posted that stuff about calling out everybody, I thought how arrogant is that? How arrogant.
TE: I felt it disrespected the whole weight class. She hasn’t even made the weight class, how are you going to call out everyone? No one is afraid. People aren’t afraid that you are coming down. I don’t get it. People surprise you; maybe she is a good fighter. I’m going to put it out there, and see where it goes, see if she can handle it.
CS: This bout will take place close to where you train in Missouri. Are you anticipating any type of home field advantage?
TE: No. I think that it drives the athletes more, but I am not a believer in that. I think you perform or you don’t. It’s up to you. I like fighting in my hometown. I need someone to cheer for me. I watch them cheer for everyone else, but crickets for me. At least in Missouri I’ll have someone that knows my name.
TE: I never understood people that don’t want to fight in front of friends or family though. Why are you fighting then? Just go to the gym and train. Don’t take fights and compete if you don’t want people to watch you, or have people there that support you. That’s crazy.
CS: Outside of MMA, what do you do for fun and to relax?
TE: I don’t do anything. I work and I watch TV. I don’t do much. I hang out with my dog. My dog and I take selfies all day long. He’s a redhead just like me, full of attitude. He’s fantastic. He’s a red haired Dachshund.
TE: We like to take walks, and anything he can pee on he does. He likes to snuggle. We get some alone time, and watch TV. He’s a Dachshund with like deer legs. He has that Dachshund personality. He is always barking at things.
CS: Lastly, MMA takes a team to succeed alone inside the cage. Who would you like to thank?
TE: My gyms: Gracie Barra Champions, Aaron Pena. Scott Ward and Team Warrior Concepts. No-Gi BJJ Victor Pozas.
TE: My sponsors: Unique Kennels, The_Scalper. Iron Jaw Custom Mouth Guards, Dudley at Ignite,Align Chiropractic, Made MMA, RJ Contracting, ATP Mechanix, Outlaw Fight Gear, Airloop Glove, Drying Ring, Duomachy, Tap or Sleep.
TE: Jay at Fresh Start Entertainment, and Shawn Burdett.
Invicta FC 8 takes place September 6th live from the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. The full card will air live via UFC Fight Pass. Click below for tickets, or to subscribe to UFC FightPass.