Kunitskaya Believes She Deserved Nod vs. Vieira, Admits ‘Judges Make Very Strange Decisions’

By Tristen Critchfield Feb 21, 2021

The UFC Fight Night 185 co-main event came down to a battle of damage vs. positional control.

Ultimately, it was Yana Kunitskaya’s activity that won the day, as she captured a unanimous decision triumph against Ketlen Vieira in a matchup of ranked women’s bantamweights at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. The former Invicta FC champion was buoyed by a strong finish down the stretch in the final stanza, when she reversed from being mounted and bloodied her Brazilian foe with elbows before the horn.

Although Vieira controlled much of the contest through takedowns and grappling, her inability to land offense from above ultimately cost her. While all three judges submitted 29-28 tallies for Kunitskaya, media scorecards told a different story, with 14 of the 18 tracked by MMADecisions.com favoring Vieira. Kunitskaya admitted feeling some tension before the final verdict was announced.

“I feel I won the fight. I did more damage, but sometimes judges make very strange decisions,” she said. “I wasn’t happy before I heard the result.”

Kunitskaya, who began her UFC tenure as a short-notice title challenger for Cristiane Justino at featherweight, has now won four of her last five appearances at 135 pounds. The Russian fighter was aware of how highly regarded Vieira in the division and claims that her mental state was a key factor in earning a victory.

“Every fight is important for me. Every fight feels like the biggest win. If you look at how high she was ranked, and before everyone thought she could be champion, I feel proud of myself,” she said.

“I feel like I’m physically and technically prepared for anyone, but I always have a mindset issue. I’m proud of me and my team for putting me in the right place. I feel so good that I won this fight in my head.”

Kunitskaya’s lone setback at bantamweight in UFC competition came via third-round TKO against Aspen Ladd at UFC on ESPN 7 in December 2019. If given a chance, she would like another shot against Ladd in the near future.

“Every fight is important. I was not happy with my performance against Aspen. I feel I can do better than that,” Kunitskaya said. “If I could get the rematch, that would be my dream fight. I want to prove I can beat anyone.”

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