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Holly Holm vs. Yana Kunitskaya-Santos full fight preview | UFC San Antonio

UFC Fight Night: Holm v Vieira Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Dynamic Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight talents Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya-Santos will throw down at UFC San Antonio this weekend (Sat., March 25, 2023) inside AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Holly Holm’s frequent title shots have become something of a recurring joke among fight fans, but had she won her last bout opposite Ketlen Vieira, her three-fight win streak would surely have justified another shot opposite Amanda Nunes. Instead, she dropped a split decision, effectively canceling her momentum immediately after one of her strongest performances in years. Kunitskaya-Santos, meanwhile, does not deliver highlight-reel finishes often, but she wins against tough competition more often than not. She has a frustrating style that really stymies opponents, often resulting in low-volume fights ... provided she doesn’t get cracked in the process. Either way, she enters this fight off a loss as well, having gotten stopped by an overweight Irene Aldana last time out.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 74 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES FLYWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 3, 2023, with No. 3-seeded contender, Kai Kara-France, face rising No. 7-ranked Amir Albazi. In UFC Vegas 74’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, an exciting Featherweight bout sees No. 15-ranked contender, Alex Caceres, lock horns with all-action Daniel Pineda.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Holly Holm

Record: 14-6
Key Wins: Ronda Rousey (UFC 193), Irene Aldana (UFC Fight Island 4), Raquel Pennington (UFC 246, UFC 184), Megan Anderson (UFC 225), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 71)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 239), Cris Cyborg (UFC 219), Germaine de Randamie (UFC 208), Miesha Tate (UFC 196), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC on FOX 20), Ketlen Vieira (UFC Vegas 55)
Keys to Victory: Holm’s credentials versus actual skill set continues to be a wild paradox. Inside the cage, the world champion boxer is a much better kicker than anything else. Whenever the boxing exchanges are prolonged, she’s typically getting tagged and starts wrestling.

Fortunately for Holm, Kunitskaya-Santos is not the type to trade in the pocket. In fact, she’s something of a mirror match up, as Kunitskaya-Santos also likes to employ the kick-and-clinch strategy.

Assuming Holm hasn’t dropped off terribly — which isn’t outside the realm of possibility, seeing as she’s 41 years old — she should be the considerably more fluid and powerful kicker. In the clinch, it’s more of a toss up, so maintaining distance seems like the wise move. Plus, Holm tends to do her best work when opponents are chasing after her, so if she can out-work Kunitskaya-Santos at distance and then punish her attempts to crash forward, that’s the best case scenario.

Yana Kunitskaya-Santos
Record: 14-6 (1)
Key Wins: Ketlen Vieira (UFC Vegas 19), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 146), Lina Lansberg (UFC 229), Raquel Pa’aluhi (Invicta FC 25)
Key Losses: Irene Aldana (UFC 264), Aspen Ladd (UFC on ESPN 7), Cris Cyborg (UFC 222)
Keys to Victory: Kunitskaya-Santos is also one of the odder technical fighters I can think of. Despite being billed a striker, I cannot recall a single moment where a Kunitskaya-Santos punch did anything significant. Instead, she primarily wins fights via grinding in the clinch, where she strikes and wrestles well.

For reasons explained above, I could easily see this fight going terribly for Kunitskaya-Santos if he starts chasing after Holm and falling forward with punches. Fortunately, the alternative is also possible: Holm might just play into Kunitskaya-Santos’ game willingly.

Holm loves the clinch, too. She wins many minutes of many fights by being the stronger woman and holding her foe along the fence. She’s accustomed to winning in that realm, and Kunitskaya-Santos just might be able to turn the tables on her.

From the first bell, Kunitskaya-Santos should be pursuing the clinch. If she’s getting countered, pick up a single leg and use it just to get the clinch along the fence. Once there, Kunitskaya-Santos is the better dirty boxer. If the fight solely takes place in close distance, Kunitskaya-Santos might just be able to outwork the older fighter and wear her down.

Bottom Line

Women’s Bantamweight is ... not great. Is there even a timeline for when Nunes will defend the Bantamweight belt next? There’s no clear next contender, because each time someone in the Top 10 puts together a couple wins, they lose. The sole exception is Raquel Pennington — whom Holm has defeated twice — and nobody wants to see her challenge Nunes a second time.

So, keeping the division’s uncertain hierarchy in mind, what does this fight mean? Holm remains arguably the division’s biggest draw, so anytime she’s in the win column, it could equal a title shot. Kunitskaya-Santos is further back by a fair margin, but she also hasn’t faced Nunes yet and is ranked inside the Top 10. Likely, scoring the best win of her career here leaves her just one more win away from a title shot.

At UFC San Antonio, Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya-Santos will battle in the co-main event. Which woman earns the victory?

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC San Antonio fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC San Antonio: “Vera vs. Sandhagen” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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