Bellator put a heck of a card together for this Saturday night, consisting of four MMA fights and six kickboxing matches. The main event will be Rafael Carvalho against Melvin Manhoef for the Bellator Middleweight Championship. The co-main event of Bellator 176 features the return of the undefeated Russian model and mixed martial artist, Anastasia Yankova.
Yankova will take on 18-year-old Greek fighter, Elina Kallionidou. Both are going into this fight with a lot of pressure on them and for very different reasons. Kallionidou is coming off of her first professional loss and she desperately has to rebound if she still wants to be considered a prospect.
As for Yankova, she’s already feeling the pressures of an organization really investing in her. Let’s face it, if you are a model that can fight, the organization that you work for is going to push you. Look at the UFC and the monster they created in Paige VanZant. They put all of their marketing eggs in one basket and then have the attitude like, “Don’t lose.”
That’s difficult to deal with because MMA fans are fickle and the second you falter just a little, they will turn their backs on you. Yankova is finding this out the hard way. Even though she has only had success in MMA, she has still felt the wrath of non-believers.
Her first three wins were all by first round submissions. After seeing her marketability, Bellator got behind her and put the bright lights on her. In her fourth fight, she won a split decision and out came the trolls. She showed heart and toughness in her last fight by fighting through a broken nose and eye-bone. However, all detractors saw was that she ‘almost’ lost. Which obviously, is unfair.
“All I care about is performing well. There is always pressure on me and each fight I have, I want to prove myself more. A win is a win, but I will always be more satisfied to finish my opponent.”
Despite the pretty face, Anastasia is more fighter than model. Not entirely pleased with her showing against Veta Arteaga, Yankova went back to the drawing board at AKA Thailand and put in the work .
“We always train hard at AKA Thailand. I worked to just continue getting better. After my last fight I came to realize that I do not care about any negativity that is said to distract me. I fought Veta in her home area and some of the fans there were harsh at me and I let it bother me too much. I learned from this and will stay focused from now on.”
Her head trainer, Mike Swick, had this to say about Yankova, going into this weekend’s fight:
“She is a young fighter and is growing at a tremendous pace. Her heart and fortitude cannot be ignored. Though these attributes played a big role in her last victory, she will bring a lot more into this fight. She is a student of the arts and has worked tirelessly for months; Continuing on her technique and conditioning. The media obligations were a huge pressure on her last time and now she is a lot more experienced there, as well. We’re very excited to see what she is going to do Saturday night.”
Recap of Anastasia’s hard fought fight against Veta Arteaga:
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