The UFC is back with action this Saturday, August 8th, with an action-packed card that is sure to entertain. UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs Oleinik has many fantastic fights lined up. We will get to see a fantastic women’s bantamweight fight that has Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya fighting for the first time in 2020 against the returning Julija Stoliarenko, a former TUF contestant.
The Russian Yana Kunitskaya has seven wins by knockout and has been fighting hand-to-hand combat since a very young age. The Lithuanian Julija Stoliarenko has eight wins by submission and possesses a brown belt in BJJ. This is a classic striker vs grappler matchup. Except this one has a twist! This grappler is also a Lethwei world champion that has never been defeated under Lethwei rules. This grappler can strike!
We just witnessed a similar kind of style matchup this past weekend with Joanne Calderwood and Jennifer Maia. The result? The underdog grappler stunned everyone and submitted “JoJo” in the first round, earning Maia a title shot as a result. Will we see a similar result this Saturday? Or will the striker, Kunitskaya, spoil the UFC return of Stoliarenko? Join us as we take a closer look at this outstanding bout that the MMA gods have gifted us for this Saturday.
Tale of the Tape
Before we get into each fighter’s history, let us take a look at the Tale of the Tape.
|Yana Kunitskaya||VS||Julija Stoliarenko|
|135 pounds||Weight||135 pounds|
|68.5 inches||Reach||69 inches|
As you can see, these fighters have similar measurables. There is only a one-inch difference in height and only half an inch difference in reach. Kunitskaya is three years older than Stoliarenko and comes with a three-fight experience advantage.
The similarities continue when you look at their history. Like Kunitskaya, Stoliarenko has also held the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship. Unlike Stoliarenko, Kunitskaya parlayed her championship win into a UFC featherweight title fight against Cris Cyborg in 2018. Unfortunately for Kunitskaya, Cyborg was a completely different animal and she got finished in the first round. Let’s take a closer look at Kunitskaya’s history.
Kunitskaya grew up in Russia fighting in taekwondo and other various hand-to-hand combat tournaments. Eventually, at the age of 18, Kunitskaya began her MMA training. After amassing an 8-1 record, “Foxy” announced she was pregnant and would be retiring from fighting to coach. It would be nearly four years before she would make her return. Her love for fighting could not be extinguished.
However, Kunitskaya’s return did not go as planned. “Foxy” lost her return by armbar in the first round to Zaira Dyshekova. In her next fight, Kunitskaya made her bantamweight debut and picked up her first win in over four years. This led to four straight championship fights, including a pair of fights against Tonya Evinger for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship.
Four Straight Championship Fights
The first fight with Evinger originally ended with Kunitskaya submitting Evinger in the first round by an armbar. However, just a few weeks later, the fight was ruled a no-contest after Evinger argued she was forced into a bad position. She won this argument because the referee had incorrectly warned her against using her heel to push against Kunitskaya’s face to try and escape, which is a legal move and should not have resulted in a warning. A rematch was made as a result of the fight being overturned.
The second fight with Evinger ended without controversy. “Foxy” was submitted in just the second round by rear-naked choke. Next, Kunitskaya faced Raquel Canuto for the vacant Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship after Evinger was called up to the UFC. “Foxy” was able to finally get over the championship hump and won via unanimous decision.
Her fourth straight title fight was the aforementioned featherweight title fight against Cyborg. Like Evinger, Kunitskaya lost to Cyborg via TKO in a lopsided fight. Like her return in 2016, her UFC debut did not go as planned. However, after debuting as a featherweight, “Foxy” made her return to bantamweight and some success followed.
Return to Bantamweight
Kunitskaya made her bantamweight return against Lina Länsberg at UFC 229. She won this fight via unanimous decision after dominating the action for a majority of the three rounds. Next, she faced Marion Reneau for another unanimous decision win. However, this fight was much closer for Kunitskaya as she narrowly won 29-28. In Kunitskaya’s most recent fight, she lost to Aspen Ladd via TKO in the third round. Can “Foxy” rebound with a win over Stoliarenko?
Julija Stoliarenko was raised in Lithuania and has had most of her career fights in her native country. She is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt that has some eye-popping submission wins over her career. After a rocky start to her career where she went 1-2-1, Stoliarenko has gone 8-1 since then. Over that time, Stoliarenko has seven submission wins, all in the first round. Her only official loss during that span occurred at The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters Finale, where she lost by split decision to Leah Letson. This fight occurred after being a contesting on that season of TUF. Her most recent fight was an absolute war for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship in March, right before the sports world was forced to shut down.
Bloody Title Fight
Back in March, Stoliarenko fought against Lisa Verzosa for the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship. Stoliarenko opened up an absolutely gnarly cut on Verzosa’s forehead and underneath her eye. This caused blood to spill all over the cage and onto both fighters. The result of this fight? Stoliarenko by a narrow split decision in a brutal stand-up war. It is clear that Stoliarenko’s Lethwei career has had a big impact on her stand-up game.
Stoliarenko made her Lethwei debut in 2017 against Su Hlaing Oo and won by knockout. She next faced Lethwei fighter, Veronika, for the ILFJ Women’s Featherweight World Championship, which she won by TKO. After she won the title, Stoliarenko took a two-year hiatus from Lethwei to further her MMA career. However, in 2019, Stoliarenko defended her title for the first time against Yuiga, a fighter based out of Japan. She won this fight by TKO in just the first round. Will Stoliarenko’s striking and BJJ be too much for Kunitskaya to handle?
Kunitskaya vs Stoliarenko Style Breakdown
Kunitskaya is a classic striker that has enough strength to hang on the ground with a lot of women in the UFC. She has been trained in various hand-to-hand combat disciplines from a young age. Kunitskaya thrives on her feet and will be looking to keep the fight standing as much as she can. While she possesses the strength to defend takedowns and submissions well, her technique on the ground is certainly lacking. If this fight ends up on the ground, look for Stoliarenko to be at an advantage.
Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Lethwei
As previously mentioned, Stoliarenko is a brilliant BJJ practitioner. She has a brown belt in BJJ and her career is littered with submission wins. However, what shouldn’t be underestimated is her striking abilities. Stoliarenko possesses legitimate knockout power and a willingness to throw with anyone. She is a well-rounded fighter that is just getting started. If she can find her groove in the UFC, the sky is the limit for her.
Kunitskaya vs Stoliarenko Prediction
If this fight stays on the feet, this will easily be a Fight of the Night candidate. Both of these women can bang. Kunitskaya is well known for her striking ability. Stoliarenko is coming off of winning the bloodiest title fight in Invicta FC history. Will this be another stand-up war? Or will Stoliarenko get to showcase her brilliant BJJ skills and pick up the submission win?
Kunitskaya vs Stoliarenko Result: Stoliarenko by armbar in the second round.
I expect both women to come out swinging. Stoliarenko will be looking to put on a show in her UFC return and earn herself another opportunity in the future. Kunitskaya is coming off of a loss and will be looking to rectify that with a convincing performance. After a round of back and forth action, Stoliarenko reminds everyone that her BJJ is no joke.
After a striking battle in the first, Kunitskaya comes out in the second round and scores an early takedown on Stoliarenko. Unfortunately, this will be her downfall. After some groundwork, Kunitskaya will leave her arm exposed and Stoliarenko will strike. Stoliarenko snatches Kunitskaya’s arm, locks in the armbar, and applies pressure. “Foxy” has no choice but to tap. And that’s how it will go down, folks. Julija Stoliarenko will be victorious in her return to the UFC.
Think the fight will go down a different way? Let us know in the comments below!
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