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Yana Kunitskaya reflects on ‘weird’ UFC 222 fight with Cris Cyborg, plans to return to 135 pounds

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Yana Kunitskaya was not able to pull off the giant upset.

The former Invicta FC champion suffered a first-round TKO against UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC 222 event in Las Vegas. Kunitskaya, who was making her UFC debut, entered the fight as a heavy underdog, as most of Cyborg’s opponents do.

But despite getting finished in the first round, Kunitskaya did have some success, taking down the champ and almost getting back control. That brief moment of offense is what makes the loss hurt a more for Kunitskaya.

“That’s why I’m so sad,” Kunitskaya said at the post-fight press conference. “Because I felt I could control the fight at some points, but you saw what happened.”

Facing arguably the greatest female fighter in the history of MMA, the 28-year-old Kunitskaya admitted she was nervous entering the fight.

“Yeah, it was a weird experience,” Kunitskaya explained. “I was so nervous and I hope to come back as fast as I can.

“I think I was nervous because I was facing Cris Cyborg, a great fighter that’s not in my weight class. But it was all a mental problem, I will try to fix it and comeback stronger.”

The Russian fighter told reporters that she plans on returning to her former weight class, the bantamweight division. Kunitskaya is now 10-4 with one no-contest as a professional fighter.