Cris Cyborg on Amanda Nunes: She called me out, 'I have to handle it'

LAS VEGAS -- UFC 222 looked like a good ol' fashioned Cris "Cyborg" Justino fight.

The most dominant female fighter in the world, Cyborg (20-1) defended her UFC featherweight championship for the second time, knocking out Yana Kunitskaya in the opening round of their UFC 222 main event inside T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night.

Referee Herb Dean waved off the 145-pound contest at the 3:25 mark, after Kunitskaya (10-4) disappeared under a flurry of hammerfists by Cyborg.

The Brazilian champion dropped Kunitskaya multiple times in the opening minutes, and mercifully went in for the TKO finish as the Russian challenger lay trapped against the fence.

The title defense came just two months after Justino dispatched arguably her greatest threat, Holly Holm, at UFC 219. She wasn't expected to fight again until this summer, but the UFC requested a quick turnaround when its original main event -- a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar -- fell through because of injury.

"I train all the time," Cyborg said. "This was 'Chute Box' style. Three weeks' notice. Anytime. Anywhere. Anybody."

The victory could set up a superfight between Cyborg and defending bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (15-4). At his postfight news conference, UFC president Dana White told reporters that Cyborg vs. Nunes is "the fight that needs to happen."

"The fight to make is her and Nunes," White said. "She wants the fight, Nunes wants the fight, I want the fight, and I'm sure the fans want the fight."

Nunes was looking at a potential title fight against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 in May in Rio de Janeiro, but White said he might forgo that matchup now and go with the Cyborg-Nunes superfight.

"I think I will," White said of going with the superfight. "It could be in [Rio]. [Cyborg] just fought. Once the adrenaline goes down, she needs to get checked out. I think her versus Amanda needs to happen."

Justino said she was open to booking the fight in July.

"For Brazil, it's sad," Cyborg said, referring to her and Nunes being Brazilian. "But she called me out. When you call Cyborg out, I have to handle it."

Saturday's result marks Cyborg's first finish inside the first round since her UFC debut in May 2016. Her past three opponents made it out of the opening round, but there was little doubt early on that Kunitskaya was in for a quick night. Justino knocked the 28-year-old down with the very first overhand right she threw, just seconds in.

Kunitskaya, who trains out of JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the same camp as Holm, recovered well from that first shot and actually had a chance to take Cyborg's back. She surprised her with a single-leg takedown and then nearly jumped to the back as Justino, perhaps foolishly, crawled her way across the canvas to the fence.

Ultimately, Cyborg was simply too physical for Kunitskaya, whose normal weight class is 135 pounds. A former bantamweight champion in all-female promotion Invicta FC, Kunitskaya agreed to take the title fight on short notice. She's expected to compete in the UFC's bantamweight division moving forward.

Originally from Brazil, now fighting out of Huntington Beach, California, Cyborg plans to adopt her Brazilian niece later this month. She has mentioned she wants the Nunes fight to take place on a major card, such as UFC 226 on July 7 in Las Vegas.