- UFC 222 takes place this Saturday (March 3) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
- No Max Holloway, no problem: Cris Cyborg takes on newcomer Yana Kunitskaya
- Can the Invicta bantamweight champion survive a Cyborg attack?
UFC 222 (Saturday, March 3, Las Vegas) was going to have an intriguing main-event bout between featherweight champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. Unfortunately, after an injury to Holloway, that fight was scrapped and Cris Cyborg was called upon on short notice to defend her women’s featherweight title against newcomer Yana Kunitskaya.
Conor McGregor tried throwing his name into the hat to save the main event, but unfortunately a fight didn’t come together. “I put my name forward to step in at UFC 222 to face Frankie Edgar when Max Holloway pulled out, but I was told there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need,” McGregor wrote on his Instagram account. “I was excited about bouncing in last minute and taking out the final featherweight, without all the rest of the stuff that comes with this game.”
“I put my name forward to step in at UFC 222 to face Frankie Edgar when Max Holloway pulled out, but I was told there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need.” – Conor McGregor
Apparently the UFC doesn’t need a lot of time to promote Cyborg, who recently fought Holly Holm at UFC 219 in December. She doesn’t have the drawing power as McGregor (no one does), but with Edgar now facing Brian Ortega in the co-main event, adding the most dominant women’s champion ever to the UFC 222 card definitely doesn’t hurt.
Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya: Matchup Analysis
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Just last December at UFC 219, Cris Cyborg (19-1) defeated Holly Holm via unanimous decision. That bloody bout, which received “Fight of the Night” honors, saw Cyborg defend her featherweight championship in dominant and composed fashion. The Brazilian is not only on a 19-fight unbeaten streak (hasn’t lost since 2005) but has also won 84-percent of her fights by knockout. In women’s MMA, the 32-year-old is in a class of her own and it’s just unwise to bet against her.
Unfortunately, that means Yana Kunitskaya’s (10-3) will be making her debut walk to the octagon as a lamb to the slaughter. But you have to admire the 28-year-old Russian, who just won Invicta FC Women’s bantamweight championship, for agreeing to the fight, knowing a win would be considered a massive, world-shaking type of upset. Hell, even a good showing in a loss would do wonders for her stock.
Essentially, [Kunitskaya] is going to stand right in Cyborg’s range and trade. Almost everyone who plays that game winds up staring at the overhead lights.
Kunitskaya has won six of her last eight fights and is coming off an impressive win over Raquel Pa’aluhi last August. She has a taekwondo and boxing background so her bread and butter is her hands and feet; 70-percent of her wins have come via knockout. But don’t be fooled, she doesn’t have earth-shattering power, and that means her style plays right into Cyborg’s hands. Essentially, she is going to stand right in Cyborg’s range and trade. Almost everyone who plays that game winds up staring at the overhead lights.
Cyborg averages 6.92 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 52-percent. She brings a relentless aggression to her fights and a proven chin. Even if Kunitskaya manages to tag her, she isn’t likely to go down.
We’ve seen this movie before and it’s all the best parts of a horror flick. This will be an easy night’s work for Cyborg.