After Max Holloway pulled out of the headliner against Frankie Edgar, it was announced that Cris Cyborg would put her Featherweight Title on the line against former Invicta Bantamweight Champion Yana Kunitskaya at UFC 222 to ‘save the card’.
And considering that Cyborg’s relationship with Dana White has been publicly frosty in the past, it was curious to note that the undefeated fighter stepped up to do the promotion a solid.
But it was precisely to readdress that equation that she did so, Cyborg confessed to MMA Weekly.
Hunter Campbell of the UFC contacted my Manager George Prajin and said that the UFC needed a new main event for UFC 222 because of the Max Holloway injury.
I train year round and was already in preparation for an expected fight against Amanda Nunes, so when the opportunity came we felt it was one we could accept and show the UFC that we are willing to help the company when needed
This is, however, a mutually beneficial move for both parties as Cyborg elucidates. The UFC needed a champion to step up and provide a legitimate Title fight at the head of the card and Cyborg, for her part, could use with every bit of promotional thrust that the UFC could provide her with.
There are not a lot of fighters who are willing to put their championship belt on the line with three weeks notice.
I am hoping that my actions will show the UFC that I am willing to do what is good for the company and that because of this we will see me get a little bit more of the marketing and exposure I have been campaigning for.
However, despite most of the MMA world thinking that this is another ‘give me’ fight for her, Cyborg herself is not making the mistake of taking Yana Kunitskaya lightly, especially since she is training with Holly Holm at Jackson Wink, who can give her a first hand account of going 5 rounds with Cyborg.
Yana will be a tough challenge for me. A lot of people don’t know who she is and that is because there have been no featherweight fights in the UFC besides championship bouts.
Yana was 8-1 at featherweight before winning the Invicta FC belt at Bantamweight. I think she will make for an exciting fight and am glad she accepted the bout.
Yana will be training with Holly Holm and the Jackson’s Gym. She is a very skilled opponent with a lot of fight experience. I will take her seriously and respect her skills the entire time we are inside the Octagon