Despite Loss of Opponent, Invicta’s 135 Champ still Debuting at UFC on Fox 28

Yana Kunitskaya

Matchmaking has been a bit all over the place in regards to one matchup for UFC on Fox 28 in Orlando, Florida. First, news broke from each fighter that Sara McMann would be welcoming the Invicta FC bantamweight champion, Yana Kunitskaya to the organization at the Florida event. This was a great matchup and one that didn’t fall apart due to injuries…well…not their injuries. One week before Fox 28, UFC Fight Night 126 in Austin, Texas takes place on February 18 and shortly after McMann vs Kunitskaya was announced, a fight between Marion Reneau and former Invicta champ, Tonya Evinger was also announced. Unfortunately, Evinger was injured out of the fight thus creating the opportunity for McMann to fill in. So it will now be McMann vs Reneau at Fox 28 in Orlando.

This had left Yana Kunitskaya without an opponent and put everything in question whether or not she would still be getting a fight or not. That was until she made it very clear that she indeed will still be making her debut at the Orlando event.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdyxNA8BAEN/?taken-by=yanamma

In last hour i got 10000 msgs about my fight. Yes,i am still fighting in Orlando card 24 February. I am not injured , feeling grate and ready to shine 🦂 u gonna know who i am fighting soon😊 #ufcorlando

The Russian, Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya, first became champion after dethroning the dominant, reigning champion, Tonya Evinger by quick first-round armbar submission in late 2016. Controversy followed not too long after though as Evinger appealed the decision to be overturned and actually won it. Therefore making the fight a no contest and Evinger the champion once again. Evinger claimed that the referee, Mike Englund’s officiating during the armbar complicated the result. When in the armbar, Evinger was placing her foot on Kunitskaya’s head while she was on the ground. Which isn’t a foul unless it’s being placed in a striking manner. Evinger didn’t exactly stomp, but she did press down rather aggressively a few times. Likely as an effort stay balanced upright.

Since she was forced to stop defending legally, her ability to escape was reduced and led directly to the submission, she claimed. The two wound up rematching and this time, after going through some more early adversity but surviving this time, Evinger left no doubt and defeated Kunitskaya by round two submission via rear-naked-choke.

Evinger would end up making her way to the UFC to challenge Cris Cyborg for the vacant UFC featherweight title at UFC 214, giving Kunitskaya a shot at the newly vacated Invicta bantamweight title. An opportunity that she capitalized on as she dominated the opposition, Raquel Pa’aluhi for five straight rounds on route to a unanimous decision.

Kunitskaya is one of the very best 135ers outside of the UFC…or was! She holds a professional record of 10-3 with eight of her wins coming by finish(seven KO/TKOs, one submission). Who do you think she’ll debut against?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/11/2018.