Cris Cyborg beat down yet another contender on Saturday at UFC 222, finishing off Yana Kunitskaya early.
For the better part of a decade, one woman has been feared above all others in mixed martial arts: Cyborg. Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino dominated in Strikeforce. She dominated in Invicta FC. And once the UFC brought her on board, first at 140lb catchweight fights before they finally opened the featherweight division, she dominated there. That domination looked to continue Saturday night in Las Vegas at UFC 222.
Cyborg had stepped up to save the card in the wake of an injury to Max Holloway. And so it was the women’s featherweight title on the line, not the men’s. Challenging the dominance and destruction of Cris Cyborg was former Invicta FC bantamweight champ Yana Kunitskaya. ‘Foxy’ had competed as a large 135lb’er, and was expected to continue on at that weight class in the UFC. However, the chance to fight Cyborg combined with a CSAC recommendation that she move up in weight paved the way for her to serve as Cyborg’s opponent at UFC 222.
Could she pull off the most unlikely of upsets? In her favor was the fact that she trained with Holly Holm, the last woman to fight Cyborg, and the fighter to push the champion the furthest.
Right of the bell, Cyborg hurt the challenger with a punch. Kunitskaya managed to maintain her wits and went for a single leg takedown, dragging the champ down. While Cyborg looked to power up, ‘Foxy’ took the back, and things were looking interesting. Cyborg was able to fight her off, however, reversing. Kunitskaya then pressed Cyborg into the cage, throwing knees. Cyborg answered back with a knee of her own. Kunitskaya then worked for another single leg takedown, but Cyborg fought her off and unleashed more heavy strikes. Cyborg’s hands were way too heavy, and Kunitskaya went back to a desperation takedown. It didn’t happen, and she was backed up against the fence, with Cyborg unloading. Kunitskaya went down, covering up, eating blow after blow, trapped. Unable to defend intelligently, the ref had seen enough, and Cyborg had another win, her second title defense.
Afterward, Cyborg called for a fight with Amanda Nunes, a bout she’d previously been linked to before stepping up to save UFC 222.
Cris Cyborg def. Yana Kunitskaya by TKO, Round 1, 3:25