Russian MMA star Yana Kunitskaya says she doesn’t take the limelight for granted, but she’s more than ready to make a splash when she takes a high-profile UFC test against Ketlen Vieira this weekend.
Former Invicta Champion Kunitskaya has flattered the occasional deception during her UFC tenure so far.
The 32-year-old, Murmansk-born star has won three bouts since her UFC debut in a featherweight title bout in March 2018 against Imperial Cris Cyborg – a match that, like so many of the Brazilian thugs, ended first-round TKO.
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Back in the bantamweight division, decisive victories against Lina Lansberg and Marion Reneau would follow before Kunitskaya succumbed to strikes again in her next fight against Aspen Ladd.
Now, after beating Yulia Stoliarenko last August, Kunitskaya is back on the road and it’s time to fight your way to the top of the ladder.
And her next opportunity to do so is at this weekend’s UFC co-main event in Las Vegas against the dangerous Brazilian Ketlen Vieira.
“It’s a good match, we’re close in the rankings, it’s going to be interesting … It’s a tough opponent and a big challenge for me,” said Kunitskaya of MMA Junkie.
While this type of statement is usually passed off as collective jargon by fighters amid weight loss, it seems like it is on the right track for Kunitskaya.
She has never been the athlete who flew too close to the sun in her career. She preferred to abandon the advertising histrionics chosen by some of her colleagues, but rather work methodically up the rankings.
Kunitskaya freely admits that she’s an introvert – something she may have swayed under the bright lights of her failed UFC 222 title offer against cyborg all those years ago.
But make few mistakes; This is the platform she wants to return to.
“”[Fighting earlier on the card] has some pluses, “says Kunitskaya of the dizzying heights of booking in a co-main event fight.” I’m a great introvert especially to people like me, so I feel like you can relax by fighting first. watch other fights.
“But [being the co-main event] is a great opportunity so I’m excited and very happy. “
What comes next, should she win on Saturday, Kunitskaya said she wouldn’t outdo herself.
“I know a lot of girls think about how to get a title shot quickly and that’s why they lose their fights,” said the Russian.
“I read this Katlyn [Chookagian] said the same thing when she got knocked out, she was so focused on a title fight and thinking about it. I don’t think about the next opponent, I don’t think it’s a good thing. “
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And of course Kunitskaya isn’t biting any questions about her title ambitions yet. “I’m not looking beyond this fight, I’m 100 percent focused on Ketlen,” she says.
With Sunday morning rolling around, these questions could soon turn from a whisper to a roar.