Jimmy Smith Explains How Yana Kunitskaya Could Beat Cris Cyborg at UFC 222
UFC newcomer Yana Kunitskaya is undoubtedly fighting an uphill battle in her Octagon debut as she draws women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in the main event on Saturday night from Las Vegas.
While Kunitskaya has faced solid competition throughout her career, particularly since joining Invicta Fighting Championships, it’s an entirely different animal to go up against someone like Cyborg, who is widely considered the greatest women’s mixed martial artist of all time.
The odds makers are certainly not gambling on Kunitskaya to pull off the upset as she’s been listed as much as a 17-to-1 underdog going into the fight.
Still despite the long odds against her, UFC analyst and color commentator Jimmy Smith sees a path to victory for Kunitskaya in this fight.
“She’s very good with her legs. I think that is key to beating Cris Cyborg. Because you have to keep her away. You have to use push kicks. You have to constantly be angling. You can never sit still. Yana Kunitskaya has the build and and the style to do both of those things,” Smith said ahead of UFC 222 in an exclusive interview.
“She has very long legs, very quick with her feet. Not just in terms of her ability to move with her feet, but also she throws very, very fast. She’s good with low leg kicks. She’s very good with the push kicks. She has the physical ability and the style to frustrate Cyborg. In order to beat Cyborg in a long fight, you’ve got to frustrate her, you’ve got to keep her out of the pocket. If Kunitskaya fights the perfect fight, she can definitely do that.”
Now pulling that off is easier said than done considering the long list of fighters who have tried to figure out a way to get past Cyborg before inevitably becoming another notch on her resume.
That being said, Kunitskaya has the enviable position of not being expected to win so that likely takes off all the pressure from her shoulders as she prepares for her UFC debut.
Getting the win might seem impossible on paper, but as Smith pointed out, there is definitely a way for Kunitskaya to shock the world on Saturday night.