Just In Yana Kunitskaya explains how broken nose helped her prepare for Aspen Ladd bout at UFC on ESPN 7 MMA Life

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WASHINGTON — Yana Kunitskaya’s injury in her last fight wasn’t all negative, after all.

The Russian fighter suffered a broken nose in her last trip to the octagon in March against Marion Reneau – a fight she won via unanimous decision. Now, leading up to her next contest at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 7, Kunitskaya’s recuperation process from the broken nose played a role in preparing her for the challenge in front of her – Aspen Ladd, who’s known for her strong and dominant grappling.

“Usually, I’m trying to prepare for every kind of situation, I’m not waiting that she will only be wrestling,” Kunitskaya said at Thursday’s UFC on ESPN 7 media day. “I think she’s improved in her striking too, but because my nose was broken, I couldn’t spar for a long time. I spent a lot of time wrestling and grappling, so I was kind of forced to spend a lot of time and improve in wrestling. But I try to be ready for every situation not only wrestling. I’m ready for striking, or if the fight goes to the ground, I’ll be ready for that too.”

The broken nose in the Reneau fight wasn’t a pretty sight, but in the grand scheme of things, Kunitskaya (12-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) doesn’t think it was a bad injury.

“No, it’s just taking a long time to heal, but I think it was a small simple injury.” Kunitskaya said. “It was really bloody, but I know it’s healing up. If you get knocked out, like (Ladd) has, or you have a ligament problem, that’s much worse. So it’s just healing up and it’s fine.”

Kunitskaya enters Saturday’s bout with back-to-back wins over Reneau and Lina Lansberg. A win against a skilled contender like Ladd (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) paired with two straight wins could put Kunitskaya in a very good position in the women’s bantamweight division. Yet, despite the potential implications, the 30-year-old fighter is not trying to look ahead.

“For me, every fight is really important no matter the opponent,” Kunitskaya said. “So yeah, this fight with Aspen Ladd is very important for me. I’m focused 100 percent, but not looking over at the title shot or something, just focused on Aspen.”

UFC on ESPN 7 takes place Saturday at Capital One Arena. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

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