UFC Washington: Yana Kunitskaya on the Verge of Contendership

Yana Kunitskaya UFC
Yana Kunitskaya Credit: Mike Straus/Cageside Press

Former Invicta FC champion Yana Kunitskaya got off to an inauspicious start in the UFC, but heading into UFC Washington she’s on the cusp of contendership.

Yana Kunitskaya has been an active professional MMA competitor since 2009. A decorated taekwondo fighter, she finally made it big in mainstream MMA only in late 2016 by securing a submission win, which would later be overturned to no-contest, over Tonya Evinger. Following a loss, she proceeded to win the Invicta FC bantamweight title by defeating Raquel Pa’aluhi. Following this win she secured a UFC contract where she got an impromptu UFC title shot against Cris Cyborg. In simpler words, her journey has been a rollercoaster.

Despite all of these extreme fluctuations, Kunitskaya has maintained her position in the sport and has delivered impressive performances in every fight. She enters UFC on ESPN 7 next month on an impressive two-fight winning streak. ‘Foxy’ currently has a UFC record of 2-1, with the two wins coming over contenders Marion Reneau and Lina Lansberg. If she manages to secure a win against Aspen Ladd in the U.S. capital, she will extend her winning streak to three, no small feat at bantamweight, where it would be one of the longest in the division.

Kunitskaya will be facing a rising contender in Aspen Ladd. Ladd is coming off a disappointing performance in her last fight where she suffered her first professional loss. Still, she currently holds a UFC record of 3-1, which includes wins over the likes of former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger. She’s a force to be reckoned with.

If Kunitskaya wants to make a serious case for the title she needs this win over Ladd. Not only could this add a lot of weight to her resume, but she could also land a title shot with a strong performance. The women’s bantamweight division is currently going through a severe shortage in terms of contenders for the title. After Germaine De Randamie, who’ll be fighting for the belt at UFC 245, there’s no one who can challenge Nunes. The only credible name is Ketlen Viera, but she’s currently dealing with injury. As a result, the outcome of Kunitskaya vs. Ladd could have have long term implications for the women’s bantamweight division.