Cris Cyborg deserves our thanks for stepping into the main event slot at UFC 222 on short notice. With the late replacement situation, the UFC didn’t have a long list of potential opponents for the women’s featherweight champion. In the end they had to go outside the UFC to their women’s feeder league Invicta FC, where Yana Kunitskaya had just claimed the women’s bantamweight belt.
Kunitskaya was no stranger to fighting at 145 pounds, and claims she’s been chasing a Cyborg fight for years … now she finally had her chance. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well for her.
The fight started out looking very bad for Kunitskaya, with Cyborg folding her in half with a massive body shot just seconds into the match. But Kunitskaya didn’t drop to the mat and crumple. She shot forward and took Cyborg down, and from there she pressured the champ, taking her back. But once Cyborg managed to separate, it was open season. Cyborg’s shots clearly stunned Kunitskaya, and once again she went to the body and dropped Kunitskaya to the canvas where she unleashed a barrage of punches until the ref stepped in.
The fight was called at 3:25 of round one.
Afterwards, Cyborg confirmed she was still planning on fighting women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. “She called me out, and when you call Cyborg out, you have to handle it,” she said.
But it will be a while before that fight can come together. Nunes is already set to defend her title at UFC 224 in May against Raquel Pennington. So that’s a moving part that will have to be resolved before Cyborg gets the champion vs. champion fight she’s after now.