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UFC 222 results from last night: Ketlen Vieira vs Cat Zingano fight recap

MMA: UFC 222-Zingano vs Vieira Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight scrappers Cat Zingano and Ketlen Vieira threw down last night (March 3, 2018) at UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Times have been tough for Zingano, both personally and professionally. Inside the cage, “Alpha” had not had her hand raised since 2014, an issue that was complicated by her inability to make it into the cage consistently at all. Luckily, that 2014 victory was over current champion Amanda Nunes, meaning that Zingano would be right back in the title mix with a strong performance.

In the time since Zingano’s last bout, Vieira put together a trio of UFC victories and rose into the top 10. Young, undefeated, and powerful, Vieira appeared to be the next big thing at 135 lbs., but she still needed another big victory to cement herself as a title contender.

Zingano worked the outside with low kicks to begin the fight, looking to outmaneuver the Brazilian. However, Vieira’s pressure and tight punches found a home early, as she countered the kicks often.

Zingano looked for a brief takedown but was unable to control her opponent. However, after the shot, Zingano was able to find the range a bit, landing some hard kick counters on her advancing foe. The fight moved into the clinch, where Vieira was able to time a knee to score a takedown.

Vieira controlled the final minute of the round from top position, earning the competitive first frame.

Zingano came out aggressive, but she drove into the clinch with her hips out. That allowed Vieira — a Judo black belt — to immediately hip toss Zingano directly into the mount. Vieira showed good pressure and threatened an arm triangle, but Zingano was able to scramble back to her guard.

Vieira’s top control proved to be more grappling-based than ground-and-pound focused, so her damage was limited. However, Zingano did little to force the issue and stand, which allowed her opponent to maintain top position without using all that much energy.

Zingano spent nearly the entire round on her back.

Zingano once again opened the round with a wild flurry and tagged her opponent, but Vieira absorbed shots without flinching. Not long after, Vieira moved into the clinch and scored another trip takedown into the guard.

It was really more of the same from top position. Vieira worked to pass guard a bit, but Zingano was largely able to maintain at least the half guard. With two minutes remaining, Zingano was able to use something of a Tripod sweep to stand, and she cracked the Brazilian with a couple good shots in the ensuing scramble. Once Vieira got her feet back underneath her, however, she jammed Zingano into the fence, slowing the fight back down.

Zingano created separation in the final 40 seconds and needed a finish, but it didn’t materialize despite her best efforts.

Vieira is a physical specimen. She’s large for the division and tough as hell, walking through a number of Zingano’s hard shots without even registering the blows. In the clinch and on the mat, Vieira’s well-rounded mix of grappling — Vieira has a wrestling background and black belt in both Judo and BJJ — allowed her to control large portions of the fight.

If Vieira could add ground strikes to her stellar control, it would be a pretty terrifying prospect.

Regardless, Vieira’s size, ground skills, and aggression have earned her a top five spot. She’s on an impressive win streak, one strong enough to earn her a title shot. Alternatively, a fight with Holly Holm could be next for the Brazilian.

Zingano fought with a lot of heart and landed the most damaging shots across 15 minutes, but she spent way too much time on her back. That’s been a consistent problem for “Alpha Cat” dating all the way back to her back-and-forth bout with Miesha Tate. On the whole, Zingano is just too willing to maintain guard and work to sweep or submit.

It would really benefit Zingano to open up her guard and focus more on getting back to her feet, as this was a winnable fight standing up.

Last night, Ketlen Vieira powered her way past another veteran foe. Who should Vieira face next?

For complete UFC 222: “Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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