UFC: The brutal cost of MMA beauty's stardom

Anastasia Yankova. Photo / Instagram
Anastasia Yankova. Photo / Instagram

Looks can be deceiving.

Russian MMA fighter Anastasia Yankova has, with one image, shown she doesn't need her beauty to make headlines.

Still recovering from her brutal American debut in UFC-rival Bellator on Saturday (NZT), the 25-year-old has posted an image on social media to reveal the full toll she paid to continue her unbeaten run as a professional in mixed martial arts.

70000 Thank you for your attention and support guys!

A photo posted by anastasia_yankova (@anastasia_yankova) on

Fighting in Bellator for the second time, Yankova emerged victorious in her flyweight fight against American Veta Arteaga via a split decision.

The brutal Bellator 161 fight in Austin, Texas, went the distance and left Yankova with some nasty reminders of how close she came to losing her first fight.

Yankova, now 4-0, posted an image of bruising across her nose, cheek and eye sockets in a bid to silence critics who have previously questioned her legitimacy as a fighter.

"This is MMA, babe," she captioned the picture.

This is MMA, babe #MMA #wmma #Bellator161

A photo posted by anastasia_yankova (@anastasia_yankova) on

Arteaga rocked Yankova in the first round when she landed a stunning strike to the Russian's head.

Yankova recovered to win the final two rounds of the contest, according to two judges, in a controversial finish.

She took to social media after the fight to declare it was stupid for Bellator fans to be suggesting on social media that Bellator judges had favoured her because of her star value to the fight promotion.

It was the first time she failed to submit an opponent within three rounds.
She has always been a fighter.

She began karate as a six-year-old and became a Russian muay thai champion as a teenager. She gave up kickboxing with an 11-2 record to take up MMA in 2012.

She has even been accepted into the star-studded American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) MMA training team.

In between her Bellator training, Yankova squeezes in modelling work, but has given up her previous television presenting gigs to focus on training.

She hosted an early morning fitness show in Russia.

The Moscow native is already being referred to as Bellator's equivalent of UFC beauty Paige VanZant - and Yankova makes no apologies for it.

#ink

A photo posted by anastasia_yankova (@anastasia_yankova) on

She told Bleacher Report before her fight that there's nothing she can do if some fans take offence to her glamorous looks.

"At a tournament, my teammates and my friends said I was too pretty," she said.

"They worried I would break my nose. They said, 'You're a Barbie doll, you can't fight.' People didn't have any confidence in me.

"It's almost like a double-edged sword.

"I didn't start out thinking about my looks or how far they could take me. I just started fighting.

"Besides being a fighter, I'm also a woman. Just because I'm fighting, it doesn't mean I have to turn into a man. I like that people find me attractive. All women like that. That didn't change because I'm a fighter."

She told The MMA Hour she deserves to be where she is.

"It might have taken me longer (without her looks)," she said.

"It might have taken me longer to get recognised by the fans, but at the end of the day, I think I belong here and I would have ended up here anyway."

That certainly appears to be the position of some of her AKA teammates, including UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.


- news.com.au

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