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UFC Vegas 43 preview, ‘Vieira vs Tate’ predictions

Tenth Annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate will battle hot-and-cold division bruiser Ketlen Vieira for the right to stay alive in the 135-pound title chase, courtesy of the UFC Vegas 43 main event on Sat. night (Nov. 20, 2021) inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. And like every UFC fight card — both good and bad — we’re here to help decide who wins and who loses tomorrow night in “Sin City.”

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 44 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Dec 4, 2021, with a thrilling Bantamweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 4-ranked Rob Font battle No. 5-seeded Jose Aldo. In UFC Vegas 44’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Lightweight contender, Brad Riddell, squares off with No. 14-seeded Rafael Fiziev in a striking fan’s dream fight.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the welterweight showdown between Michael Chiesa and Sean Brady, check out Patrick Stumberg’s UFC Vegas 43 preliminary card breakdown here and here, which he somehow wrote while creating an NFT version of his childhood diary.

While we’re on the topic of expensive and trendy fads, resident MMA hero Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 43 main card right here. For the latest “Vieira vs. Tate” odds and betting lines — where “Cupcake” and “Fenomeno” continue to battle for the position of favorite — go here.

Let’s break it down ...

135 lbs.: Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate

Ketlen “Fenomeno” Vieira

Record: 11-2 | Age: 30 | Betting line: -115
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 68” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.66 | Striking accuracy: 36%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.84 | Striking Defense: 53%
Takedown Average: 2.19 (48% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 92%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya

Miesha “Cupcake” Tate

Record: 19-7 | Age: 35 | Betting line: -105
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 8 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.13 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.68 | Striking Defense: 51%
Takedown Average: 2.16 (32% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 52%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Marion Reneau

I think a lot of fans (including myself) did the obligatory eye roll when Miesha Tate announced her comeback because let’s face it, nobody would trade a comfortable retirement for getting punched in the kisser. But any questions about what motivated “Cupcake” to return — money being the leading candidate — were quickly answered when Tate showed up for UFC Vegas 31 looking insanely ripped, a physique she has maintained heading into this weekend’s showdown (see it here). That is irrefutable evidence that Tate is here to compete at the highest level and win, something she did against Marion Reneau last July. Not to suggest “The Belizean Bruiser” was some kind of world beater, but certainly an opponent proportionate to the circumstances at hand. Tate looked great, fought great, and quickly signed up for more, so her march back to the 135-pound title — which she kept warm until Amanda Nunes showed up — continues uninterrupted.

I don’t expect much resistance against Ketlen Vieira, ranked one spot above Tate at No. 7. I think a lot of people sat up and took notice after “Fenomeno” outworked the venerable Cat Zingano, but then she got torched by Irene Aldana in her very next fight. I’m not breaking out the bubbly for a decision win over Sijara Eubanks, a natural flyweight, and losing to Yana Kunitskaya last February has me wondering if Zingano simply had a bad day at the office. Vieira has done a good job of using her wrestling to change the tempo of her fights, scoring 13 takedowns in seven trips to the cage. It helps that she was facing thirty-something castaways like Kelly Faszholz and Ashlee Evans-Smith, who were both booted for unspectacular runs at 135 pounds. “Fenomeno” did take down and submit Olympic medalist Sara McMann, but who hasn’t at this point? No disrespect intended, but you know it’s time to hang it up when a 41 year-old Marion Reneau is making you tap.

I know in columns like these you’re supposed to make a case for each combatant but I just don’t see a path to victory for Vieira, who’s looked mediocre in her past few fights. Tate is an exceptional wrestler who can go hard for all three rounds and has the kind of championship experience you can’t train for in the gym. Many of the reasons Tate retired in the first place are no longer in play — including what she refereed to as a toxic relationship with Bryan Caraway — which is why “Cupcake” has been so dialed in during her second stint with UFC. I do think Vieira will be too tough to finish, but she’s going to be outclassed from bell to bell and mentally, will probably check out somewhere in the second stanza.

Prediction: Tate def. Vieira by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Sean Brady

Michael “Maverick” Chiesa

Record: 18-5 | Age: 33 | Betting line: +140
Wins: 0 KO/TKO, 11 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’1“ | Reach: 75” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 1.87 | Striking accuracy: 40%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.72 | Striking Defense: 54%
Takedown Average: 3.62 (53% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 68%
Current Ranking: No. 6 | Last fight: Submission loss to Vicente Luque

Sean Brady

Record: 14-0 | Age: 28 | Betting line: -160
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 5’10“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.72 | Striking accuracy: 55%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.60 | Striking Defense: 63%
Takedown Average: 2.69 (60% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: No. 14 | Last fight: Submission win over Jake Matthews

For a minute there, it looked as if Michael Chiesa was gonna do something special at 170 pounds. No longer stricken with the aftereffects of his brutal cut to lightweight — to be expected for any athlete who stands 6’1” with a large frame — the bearded “Maverick” could bring all his strength and stamina into the cage. Unfortunately, he also brought the same mistakes he made at 155 pounds, which is why he was tapped by Vicente Luque in the very first round. Chiesa called it a “mental lapse” but to be fair, he’s now been submitted four times in his UFC career and has yet to score a knockout in 23 professional fights. The former TUF guy is a punishing wrestler — scoring a whopping 15 takedowns across three fights before his Luque loss — and uses his size, as well as his lanky limbs to tie up his opponents and shut down their offense. Hard to knock a strategy that is mostly successful but it doesn’t produce exciting fights and as we saw against Luque, there’s a ceiling when it comes to longterm results.

There doesn’t appear to be any ceiling for the undefeated Sean Brady and if there is, he looks poised to smash right through it. I don’t want to get too crazy over the Philadelphian’s success, because he’s yet to swim in deep water, but I also won’t dismiss victories over Jake Matthews and Court McGee, two very tough outs at 170 pounds. Brady has also used his wrestling to great success, while also proving his might as a defensive wrestler, shucking off six takedowns from the aforementioned McGee when they went to war at UFC on ESPN 6. Complementing his ground game is a formidable Muay Thai attack, though it’s only produced one knockout over the last five years, so I don’t expect it to become a factor against Chiesa. This fight will boil down to a battle of positions. Two great wrestlers with dangerous jiu-jitsu and as much as I want to pick Brady — and inject some new life into the 170-pound title chase — I think his size and reach disadvantage will put him on his back heels. Chiesa only needs to win two of the three rounds and if he can replicate the wall work he used to shut down Neal Magny, this one could be fairly one-sided.

Prediction: Chiesa def. Brady by unanimous decision

Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 43 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 43 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 6 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 43 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Vieira vs. Tate” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.