Yana Kunitskaya feels no pressure for an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight title shot, and would love to lock horns with Miesha Tate should they win their respective fights at UFC 264 and UFC Vegas 31.
Kunitskaya (14-5-0-1) will fight Irene Aldana (12-6) at UFC 264, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 10, 2021, via ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) with Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor 3 serving as the main event. Ahead of the Aldana fight, “Foxy” revealed an interest in squaring up with returning former UFC women’s Bantamweight queenpin (Tate).
“I always try not to look over a fight and I’m so focused on this one. I’m not rushed for a title shot. I would like so much to have a rematch with Aspen [Ladd] or maybe if Miesha Tate wins her fight, she used to call me out,” Kunitskaya told MMAmania.com. “I think it’s so interesting. We work with each other but I think it’s a really interesting fight. Wherever the UFC puts me. If the UFC wants me to fight for a title, that’s one thing. If I need one more fight, that’s good, too.
“I think she will do a great job,” she said of Tate’s return fight opposite Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31 on July 17, 2021. “I follow her on Instagram. Her training looks good. I think she is taking this seriously. Kids just motivate you. I believe she will be a better fighter now.”
Ever since Donald Cerrone welcomed his son and went on an impressive streak, the topic of fatherhood in mixed martial arts (MMA) has become commonplace. But, the motivation of motherhood is not discussed as often.
For Kunitskaya, her son is an important source of strength.
“He motivates me so much. Everything you do, if you do it for yourself somebody you can be tired, sometimes you can be lazy. But when you have family, you want to set the right example. Kids look up to parents and repeat. If he looks and sees that his mom is lazy, he might be too. I try to show him the best example.”
Kunitskaya’s son recently made a Father’s Day present for Kunitskaya’s partner, fellow UFC fighter Thiago Santos.
“It’s his first year here in America,” she explained. “He was so excited and it was his idea. He asked what are we going to do, we need to create something. It was his idea. He asked to contact Thiago’s son to send some of his photos. I just print it out and he created everything. He was so happy to give it to Thiago and Thiago was so emotional. Everyone was so happy.”
Kunitskaya and Santos’ relationship offers great support to both fighters.
“Sometimes it’s hard, especially when cutting weight or when we are both close to a fight, but most of the time we’re just helping each other. Most of the time it’s a big positive both fighting. We understand how hard the day is. That sometimes you’re in a bad mood. Sometimes you can do something to help and support each other.”
Kunitskaya (No. 5) actually retired from professional MMA between 2012-16, despite riding a six-fight win streak and holding an 8-1 record at the time.
“There were no women in UFC and it was so hard to train and put everything in this sport, but it wouldn’t pay off,” she said of her decision to retire and transition to coaching. “You’re fighting for maybe $500 but you need to spend a lot of energy. I got an offer from Strikeforce, and at this time it was the best promotion for women, but the U.S. didn’t give me a visa. I decided there was no point in fighting anymore. Then I had my son, and Ronda Rousey opened doors for us in UFC. I decided to try. If it’s not going to work, I’ll retire again. But if I don’t do it now, I’m going to regret it. I’m so happy I did this step and came back.”
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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