Bellator’s Anastasia Yankova to return April 8 after ‘learning lesson in last fight’

Bellator’s Anastasia Yankova to return April 8 after ‘learning lesson in last fight’
The Italian city of Torino, which saw Russian MMA fighter Anastasia Yankova’s Bellator debut back in April 2016, will also host her next bout, Yankova told RT Sport on Thursday.

“My next fight will be in Turin, Italy, on April 8. But, as of yet, I don’t know the name of my future opponent,” the 25-year-old said.

Meanwhile, fellow Bellator fighter Ilima-Lei MacFarlane made a second attempt to call Yankova out on social media two weeks ago.

“I heard there are @bellatormma cards in both Hungary and Italy in April. My birthday is April 2nd and I’d really love a good present @anastasia_yankova,” she wrote on her Instagram account.

Back in July, MacFarlane described a “hidden sexual tension” she feels towards Yankova in an interview with mmajunkie.com.

In addition to those comment, MacFarlane also posted on Instagram, saying to Yankova: “I’m calling you out because I want to make out with you after we fight.”

However, Yankova says she is indifferent about her next opponent, and doesn’t have any special feelings for Macfarlane.

“She’s cunning. She knows how to grab attention. But I don’t care if I will fight her or anyone else. I don’t have this ‘sexual tension’ she was talking about,” she said.

Yankova’s last victory at Bellator 161 on September 16 – a split decision win over Veta Arteaga – sparked controversy, as Arteaga dominated in the first round and delivered significant damage to her opponent’s face.

Yankova fought her way back in the last two rounds, however, and didn’t shy away from showing her face on social media after the bout.

"I’d feel hypocritical if I hid my face,” she said, revealing her bruised face.

“If I post some glamorous pictures from a photo shoot on other days, why wouldn’t I post pictures of the way I look now?” she asked.

Coming into her next fight, Yankova admits that she has taken her previous experience in the Bellator cage into account.

RT: What do you think was the main problem in your fight with Arteaga?

Anastasia Yankova: The only thing that was new for me, compared to my previous bouts, was the fact that we were fighting in my opponent’s backyard. For the first time in my career, I felt that the crowd was totally on her side – booing me and all that. But I’m not making excuses. Nothing should distract a fighter during a bout even for a tiny bit. That was a good lesson for me. A test that made me stronger. Those who are close to me were still with me, despite what my face looked like after the fight, despite the splints in my nose, despite the fact that I had to stay in the States for two more months after the fight.

RT: What are you looking to change in your tactics going into your next fight?

AY: I’d rather not talk about the tactics for my future fights, but we are working on my technique, speed, and precision. At the same time, knowing my character, I will always come forward in the fight.

RT: How important is the next fight going to be for you, given all the critic that followed your last bout?

AY: Every fight is an important fight. With regards to my critics, I can say that I got used to it back in the day when I competed in Muay Thai. I can’t say I’ve never been criticized before.

RT: Do you feel like you have fully recovered and are 100% ready?

AY: There are no injuries bothering me now. Plus, I have more than five weeks before the fight. I have time to prepare properly. The hardest part of the camp is still ahead of me. So, everything is going according to plan.

RT: You fought in Turin a year ago. How do you feel about going back there?

AY: It was an amazing experience. So many people were cheering for me, taking pictures with me after the fight. I was genuinely in shock. I absolutely loved it. I promised them back then that I would be back, and I’m now gladly coming back. I can’t wait to see Turin again!