On Saturday night’s headlining fight at UFC 222, Yana Kunitskaya had her moments of brilliance against the formidable Cris Cyborg. After scoring a takedown in the early minutes, she was able to establish back control and pose a slight threat to the champion.
The tides did quickly turn though, and she ended up being on the receiving end of a Cris Cyborg pounding that led to a first-round TKO stoppage. During the post-fight presser, the 28-year-old Russian fighter reflected on her performance and how disappointed she was for not being able to fully capitalize on the few moments of being at an advantage.
“That’s why I’m so sad,” Kunitskaya said (transcript via MMA Fighting). “Because I felt I could control the fight at some points, but you saw what happened.”
With just a few weeks’ notice, Kunitskaya stepped in as an opponent for Cyborg to replace the supposed headliner featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. It was also her first fight at 145-pounds in quite a while, having fought her last four fights at bantamweight.
While she showed a bit of confidence right before the fight, Kunitskaya admitted to being overcome by nerves once she shared the cage with the woman deemed to be the most dominant female fighter today.
“Yeah, it was a weird experience,” Kunitskaya said of her fight against Cyborg. “I was so nervous and I hope to come back as fast as I can.”
“I think I was nervous because I was facing Cris Cyborg, a great fighter that’s not in my weight class. But it was all a mental problem, I will try to fix it and come back stronger.”
Kunitskaya, now 10-4 (with eight wins by stoppage), also announced that she would be moving back down to her original weight class at 135 pounds.