Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will be right back inside its Apex facility later today (Sat., Nov. 20, 2021) to stage UFC Vegas 43 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ESPN+-streamed event will be headlined by a women’s Bantamweight bout between former division champion, Miesha Tate, taking on Ketlen Vieira. In the co-main event, Michael Chiesa will face Sean Brady in a meaningful Welterweight bout.
Tate ended her five-year hiatus this past summer, picking up a win over Marion Reneau via third-round technical knockout. While impressive, Reneau, 44, was on her way out since she announced that it would be her retirement fight. Tate will have a bit more resistance against Vieira, the No. 7 ranked fighter in the Bantamweight division.
After starting her career perfect (10-0), including winning her first four fights inside the Octagon, Vieira has dropped two of her last three. She is coming off a loss to Yana Kunitskaya so she is desperately looking for a spot in the winner’s circle, and doing it by taking out a former world champion will only bolster her resume. Furthermore, it will help boost her stock and chances of breaking into the Top 5, which means a shot at the title won't be too far off because well, let’s face it, Amanda Nunes is running out of fresh faces to fight.
But, Tate is looking for a career revival and is already ranked No. 8 despite her lengthy layoff. Her name value and track record alone are good enough to give her that advantage over everyone else who has been putting in work in her absence. Still, that will only take her so far and she needs to keep on winning if she ever wants to fight for the UFC strap again. To be honest, I didn’t see a ton out of her against Reneau to convince me that she is back to the “Cupcake” of old. She will have to pick it up a notch if she wants to take out Vieira.
We can’t really bash this card because it was looking pretty good up until injuries and visa issues (which we will discuss below) started to ravage it. Despite those hiccups, the event still has several match ups that are likely to deliver.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Tai Tuivasa and Augusto Sakai were set to co-headline this event, but the fight was scrapped after Tuivasa encountered visa issues. As a result, the promotion re-booked this fight to go down at UFC 269 on Dec. 11, 2021.
Gavin Tucker was in line to face Pat Sabatini on this card, but bowed out and was ultimately replaced by Tucker Lutz. Jessica Penne was also set to return on this card against Luana Pinheiro, but after she withdrew for undisclosed reasons she was replaced by Sam Hughes.
Cheyanne Buys was in line to face Loma Lookboonmee, but bowed out of the fight and was replaced by Loopy Godinez. Malcolm Gordon withdrew from his scheduled bout against Denys Bondar and the fight was ultimately rescheduled to go down in Feb. 2022.
Alexa Grasso suffered an undisclosed injury and was forced out of her scheduled bout against Joanne Wood. As a result, Taila Santos agreed to step in. Santos has won three in a row and picking up a win over Wood would be the biggest of her career so far. Wood, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down career thus far, alternating wins and losses inside the Octagon over the last two years. She is coming off a loss to Lauren Murphy so she needs a win here if she ever wants to get close to a shot at the title.
Update: Terrance McKinney was forced out of his fight with Fares Ziam at the last minute because of COVID-19 concerns (full details here).
After earning an impressive submission win on Dana White’s “Contender Series” more than one year ago, Natan Levy, 30, will finally get his chance on the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) stage of them all. Undefeated at 6-0, Levy will face off against former Combate Americas Lightweight champion Rafa Garcia in his promotional debut. Levy got a late start to his MMA career, turning professional at age 27, but has looked great thus far. If he can shine in his first official fight under the UFC banner it will be great for his future moving forward.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke and Sean Soriano are both looking to get back on track, but one of them will go home with his second straight loss while the other will be able to right his ship when they throw down in a Featherweight bout to open up the event. They each fell short in their recent UFC appearances, so the loser of this bout could very well have a short stint inside the Octagon.
Hughes’ time so far inside the Octagon has been less than stellar, losing her first two fights, which brings her record to 1-3 in her last four. She will attempt to pick up her first win under the UFC banner when she battles Luana Pinheiro, owner of a seven-fight win streak, which includes picking up a disqualification win in her UFC debut against Randa Markos.
Cody Durden was on the wrong end of a highlight-reel submission loss courtesy of Jimmy Flick, who trapped him in a flying arm triangle more than one year ago. Durden will attempt to get back on track when he battles Aori Qileng, who had his impressive six-fight win streak snapped by Jeff Molina earlier this year.
Terrance McKinney wrestled under the tutelage of Michael Chiesa in high school , and now he gets to share a UFC card with “Maverick.” McKinney made a splash in his UFC debut by absolutely obliterating Matt Frevola , knocking him out in just seven seconds . He will look for an impressive follow-up when he takes on Fares Ziam , who is 2-1 inside the Octagon and has won seven of his last eight fights.
Loopy Godinez holds the record for the fastest turnaround between fights, competing twice in just nine days. While she came out on top in her UFC debut against Silvana Gomez Juarez, she wasn’t so lucky in her next fight against Luana Carolina. One month removed from that loss, Loopy is back at it again as she battles Loma Lookboonmee, winner of two in a row and three of four overall inside the Octagon.
A stellar Featherweight showdown will headline the undercard as Pat Sabatini and Tucker Lutz duke it out in what should be a highly competitive affair. Sabatini — the former Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) 145-pound champion — has won four in a row and is 7-1 in his last eight outings. As for Tucker, after dropping his MMA debut in 2015 he has gone on to rack up 12-straight wins, including two victories on “Contender Series,” as well as earning a “W” in his UFC debut against Kevin Aguilar at UFC 262.
To get a deeper look at all of the “Prelims” click here and here.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Rafa Garcia came into UFC with an undefeated record of 9-0 and as the Combate Americas Lightweight champion. His time inside the Octagon, however, has been anything but fruitful. After dropping his promotional debut against Nasrat Haqparast, he went on to lose another decision to Chris Gruetzemacher four months later. If he loses his third straight when he battles Natan Levey — who is undefeated (6-0) — Garcia could be punching his one-way ticket back to Combate.
Interest Level: 5/10
Chiesa has been quietly lurking around the Top 5 of the stacked Welterweight division and is seemingly on the verge of breaking through. Ranked No. 6 at the moment, “Maverick” had his four-fight win streak snapped by Vicente Luque in his last outing, his first setback in three years. Prior to that, Chiesa had collected impressive consecutive wins over Neil Magny, Rafael dos Anjos, Carlos Condit and Diego Sanchez. He will attempt to bounce back when he battles Sean Brady, who has yet to taste defeat. Undefeated at 13-0, Brady is perfect (4-0) inside the Octagon and is coming off a big submission win over Jake Matthews at UFC 259.
Rani Yahya has 12 wins and four losses in his UFC career, which spans eight years, and that decent mark is still not good enough to put him into the Top 15. Granted, he fights in the stacked Bantamweight division, but if it hasn’t happened for him by now it probably won’t anytime soon. Still, he is 4-1-1 in his last six bouts so giving up isn’t an option for the Brazilian veteran. And if he picks up a win over Kyung Ho Kang, he could make up some ground to get ranking consideration.
Staying in the 135-pound weight class, up-and-coming contender Adrian Yanez is on the hunt for his eighth straight victory when he battles Davey Grant. Yanez’s first three fights inside the Octagon have really left an impression, earning back-to-back-to-back knockout wins, as well as “Performance of the Night” awards in each one. It doesn’t get much better than that to kick off your UFC career. Grant will look to stifle the young stud as he attempts to get back in the win column after Marlon Vera snapped his three-fight win streak this past summer.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Vegas 43 Full Fight Card:
UFC Vegas 43 Main Event On ESPN+:
135 lbs.: Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate
UFC Vegas 43 Main Card On ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Sean Brady
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Rani Yahya
125 lbs.: Joanne Calderwood vs. Taila Santos
135 lbs.: Davey Grant vs. Adrian Yanez
UFC Vegas 43 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Pat Sabatini vs. Tucker Lutzd
155 lbs.: Rafa Garcia vs. Natan Levy
115 lbs.: Loopy Godinez vs. Loma Lookboonmee
155 lbs.: Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam— CANCELED
125 lbs.: Cody Durden vs. Aori Qileng
145 lbs.: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Sean Soriano
115 lbs.: Sam Hughes vs. Luana Pinheiro
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
Remember that 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+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 43: “Tate vs. Vieira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.