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04th Mar 2018

Cris Cyborg brutalises late stand-in at UFC 222

That's one terrifying human

Darragh Murphy

MMA likely gets more upsets than most sports due to the fact that the entire landscape of a one-sided bout can be changed with one glancing blow from those tiny gloves.

But sometimes the bookmakers get it bang-on and that was the case when Cris’ Cyborg’ Justino agreed to step up on short notice to salvage the UFC 222 pay-per-view.

Once UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway was forced out of the card’s original main event with an injury, the event was in jeopardy as there was no title up for grabs.

‘Cyborg’ was close enough to 145lbs to agree to a short-notice title defence against former Invicta bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya.

And while Kunitskaya ought to be applauded, not only for the courage to step up with just a few weeks’ preparation against the most terrifying female walking the planet, but for the composure she showed in the early stages of UFC 222’s new main event.

The Russian debutant even managed to get ‘Cyborg’ to the canvas with a quick takedown and drew a gasp from the T-Mobile Arena crowd when she dived on the Brazilian’s back.

But it was all downhill from there.

‘Cyborg’ marched her opponent down Chute Boxe-style and floored Kunitskaya by catching a kick at the same time as she landed a right hand.

Then came the trademark mauling of ‘Cyborg’ as she unleashed a relentless offence to convince referee Herb Dean to step in and wave the fight off.

It was a valiant effort from Kunitskaya but there was no Buster Douglas moment for the Russian.

Next up for ‘Cyborg’ is likely a defence against UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes, who called out her fellow countrywoman last year.

And ‘Cyborg’ doesn’t appreciate call-outs.

“When you call ‘Cyborg’ out, you have to handle it,” she said.