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UFC 222 fight card primer: Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya

Get a preview here of the UFC 222 main event, as Cris Cyborg defends her title against Yana Kunitskaya.

Cris Cyborg and Yana Kunistkaya, UFC 222 weigh-in
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This Saturday, UFC 222 is headlined by a Featherweight title fight, as champion Cris Cyborg (19-1(1) MMA; 4-0 UFC) defends against Yana Kunitskaya (10-3(1) MMA; UFC Debut). The UFC does not offer rankings for this division, though they do have Cyborg at #9 on the pound for pound list. UFC 222: Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya airs live from Las Vegas this Saturday night, March 3. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT, with the prelims starting at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 and 6:30 p.m. ET on Fight Pass.

This is a late replacement headliner after the planned title fight between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar fell through. The UFC looked at a few different options, and in the end were able to salvage the card with a quick turnaround for Cyborg, making her 2nd defense of the title she won in July.

How do these two stack up?

Cyborg: 32 years old | 5’8" | 68" reach
Kunitskaya: 28 years old | 5’8" | 64" reach

What have these two done recently?

Cyborg: W - Holly Holm (UD) | W - Tonya Evinger (TKO) | W - Lina Lansberg (TKO)
Kunitskaya: W - Raquel Pa’aluhi (UD) L - Tonya Evinger (Sub) | NC - Tonya Evinger

How did these two get here?

Cris Cyborg came to the UFC in 2016, and since that time, she has formed essentially the entirety of the women’s Featherweight division. After a brief and inconsequential title run from Germaine de Randamie, Cyborg claimed the title and has made one defense since. There still is basically no one else in the division - just random opponents brought in for Cyborg to mow down. Her last fight was just two months ago against Holly Holm, easily the toughest opponent Cyborg has faced in years. Holm made a good showing, but Cyborg also showed an impressive poise and technical level in that fight, going the full 5 rounds for the first time in her career, and still looking dominant.

Yana Kunitskaya’s claim to fame here is that she is the former Invicta Bantamweight champion, and never lost that title in the cage. She did have an odd path to that belt though. Kunitskaya came to Invicta in 2016 and immediately challenged then champion Tonya Evinger for the title. She won that fight at first, but an error in rule enforcement from the referee led to it being overturned to a No Contest. They rematched, and Evinger won via submission. She then vacated the belt, and Kunitskaya won a fight last August to crown the next champ. She has a lot of fast finishes in her career, and actually has competed at Featherweight in the past. She’s not the worst possible opponent by any means, but that recent loss to Evinger certainly does cast doubts on her chances here.

Why should you care?

Cyborg violence, plain and simple.