Exclusive: Yana Kunitskaya On Fighting Former Training Partner Holly Holm: ‘She Was A Big Motivation For Me’

Five years ago, Yana Kunitskaya Trained With Her Upcoming Opponent At JacksonWink MMA.

Yana Kunitskaya
Yana Kunitskaya (Left) and Holly Holm (Right)(Images via Instagram @YanaMMA and @HollyHolm)

Yana Kunitskaya opened up about previously training with her upcoming opponent Holly Holm

Kunitskaya is climbing the women’s bantamweight rankings with a massive opportunity in her next fight. The number six-ranked bantamweight will take on number three-ranked Holm, a former UFC champion, on March 25. ‘Foxy’ joined Mike Owens of MiddleEasy to discuss the upcoming matchup and had this to say:

“We trained a long time ago, five years ago, we trained together and helped each other prepare for so many fights, but in this sport, there’s not a lot of girls on top, and by some point, we have to fight each other. I think we know each other so good, but I believe I have improved so much in these five years…”

The 33-year-old women’s bantamweight contender continued by saying: 

“She’s super tough. She was a big motivation for me, an inspiration for me. I know that she’s always like hardest worker. She always gives everything. All the people say, ah, she’s over 40, 41 years old, but I think it not affect you. I know how hard she work always. She’s so athletic, so disciplined, so I’m waiting for the best Holly Holm to me.”

Holm last fought in May against Ketlen Vieira, losing by a controversial split decision. The 41-year-old is looking to take out Kunitskaya and make her way back to a bantamweight title shot. The winner on March 25 could potentially find themself in a number one contender fight next time out. 

Yana Kunitskaya believes it’s ‘not a fair fight’ against Holly Holm

Yana Kunitskaya used to train at JacksonWink MMA, where Holly Holm trained her entire career. Although they used to be training partners, Kunitskaya believes she’s evolved tremendously over the last five years. During the same interview with MiddleEasy, ‘Foxy’ had this to say when asked about their past training sessions:

“We train a lot. Spar a lot. We helped each other a lot. I don’t know. I was thinking about this, but as I told you, there’s not many girls to fight, and I’m personally respectful so much, but I think it’s not a fair fight…”

Kunitskaya made her UFC debut in March 2018, losing to Cris Cyborg in the first round. She went on to beat Lina Lansberg and Mario Reneau before losing to Aspen Ladd. The Russian-born fighter bounced back with another two wins against Julija Stoliarenko and Ketlen Viera. 

‘Foxy’ last fought against Irene Aldana in July 2021, losing in the first round. Since then, Kunitskaya took time off to have her second child, which is the first with former UFC fighter Thiago Santos.

 

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