Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight contenders, Holly Holm and Ketlen Vieira, will clash TONIGHT (Sat., May 21, 2022) at UFC Vegas 55 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s been 19 months since Holm last made the walk, but fortunately, the former champion did put on one hell of a performance that night. When she battered the talented Irene Aldana (watch highlights), it was direct proof that Holm still had plenty left in the tank, and that a fifth title shot wasn’t so unlikely. Conversely, Vieira is still looking to earn her first opportunity at UFC gold. She enters her second main event slot following the best win of her career, a five-round smacking around of Miesha Tate that reestablished Vieira as a major threat at 135 pounds (watch highlights).
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Ronda Rousey (UFC 193), Irene Aldana (UFC Fight Island 4), Raquel Pennington (UFC 246, UFC 184), Megan Anderson (UFC 225), Marion Reneau (UFC Fight Night 71)
Key Losses: Amanda Nunes (UFC 239), Cris Cyborg (UFC 219), Germaine de Randamie (UFC 208), Miesha Tate (UFC 196), Valentina Shevchenko (UFC on FOX 20)
Keys to Victory: Despite her boxing pedigree, Holm really does great work with her legs. An excellent and tricky distance kicker, Holm is at her best against opponents who follow her around the cage and end up walking into her counter combinations. Historically, Vieira seems rather likely to fall into that trap!
Vieira has heavy hands and a dangerous ground game, but she’s quite plodding and doesn’t throw many kicks. It stands to reason, then, that Holm should be able to win the distance battle and largely avoid the pocket. Between her side kicks, round kicks, and trickier techniques, Holm is at a major range advantage.
When Holm wins that distance battle, it’ll force Vieira to take the initiative — she won’t be able to hang back and counter like she did so effectively vs. Tate. Instead, she’ll have to chase after Holm and pursue the pocket, and she has yet to show the footwork necessary to do so without running into left hands.
If Holm still has it after her long layoff, this is a stylistic lay up.
Key Wins: Miesha Tate (UFC Vegas 43), Sara McMann (UFC 215), Cat Zingano (UFC 222), Sijara Eubanks (UFC 253)
Key Losses: Irene Aldana (UFC 245), Yana Kunitskaya (UFC Vegas 19)
Keys to Victory: Vieira is a very physical and strong Bantamweight with black belts in Judo and jiu-jitsu. She’s at her best from top position, but Vieira is a capable brawler when the takedown doesn’t materialize.
As explained above, this is a tricky fight for Vieira. It is not, however, an unwinnable win. In order to find success, Vieira will have to fight with more strategy than usual and/or show technical development from recent performances.
The number one key here is that Vieira doesn’t simply follow Holm around the Octagon like Aldana did. That’s a recipe for getting touched up and kicked in the mouth! Instead, Vieira has to carefully cut off the cage, as well as increase her connection percentage by aiming more kicks and punches to the legs and body.
It’s also important that Vieira makes this a dirty fight by clinching when possible. She’s quite good with her trips and throws, and she has to use that threat to at least keep Holm on edge. Actually landing takedowns would be ideal, but even an attempted trip could open up opportunities for punches on the break.
This might determine the next title challenger.
It’s unclear how everything is going to shake out with Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena 2. If Nunes wins, does the promotion run the trilogy right away? That would be pretty typical of UFC and obviously delay a title shot for everyone else at 135 pounds. Alternatively, a second Pena victory clears the way for new challengers, possibly in two divisions if UFC keeps woman’s Featherweight around!
One way or another, the victor of tonight’s main event is in the best position possible for a title shot.
It’s worth mentioning that the stakes are especially high for Holly Holm. Returning from a long layoff at 40 years of age, it’s hard to imagine Holm rebounding from a loss to a younger contender. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but at some point, Holm is going to run out of title opportunities.
At UFC Vegas 55, Holly Holm and Ketlen Vieira will go to war in the main event. Which woman will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 55 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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