Undefeated Brazilian prospect Ketlen Vieira won’t be facing a former Ultimate Fighting Championship titlist in her next bout. Instead, she’ll have to settle for a former title challenger.
Vieira has signed on to face veteran Cat Zingano in a bantamweight clash at UFC 222, scheduled for March 3 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. MMA Brasil was first to report the pairing on Friday. This past Thursday, Zingano teased via Instagram that she had a fight lined up.
“I have who. I have where. I know when. It’s time,” the Colorado native wrote.
Vieira was briefly linked to a fight with former UFC 145-pound queen Germaine de Randamie who is eyeing a return to bantamweight. However, “The Iron Lady” told MMA Fighting last week that her right hand injury requires more rehab after surgery.
"I’m still rehabbing from my injury,” de Randamie said last Thursday, "never did I signed or agree to fight anyone at this point. The UFC also knows I’m not able to fight right now. I need to let my body heal properly."
The bout will be the 35-year-old Zingano’s first action in 20 months. “Alpha” hasn’t been in the Octagon since her unanimous decision loss to Julianna Pena at UFC 200 in July 2016. The defeat was her second consecutive loss after beginning her career 9-0. The Pena loss came 16 months after she succumbed to a Ronda Rousey armbar in a mere 14 seconds in her UFC women’s bantamweight title challenge at UFC 184.
Vieira, 26, has looked increasingly impressive over her three UFC outings. After winning decisions over Kelly Faszholz and Ashlee Evans-Smith, she earned her breakthrough win in September, choking out Olympic silver medalist and former UFC title challenger Sara McMann in the second round, pushing her pro record to 9-0.
The UFC has yet to formally announce the contest. As of now, no bouts have been officially added to the UFC 222 bill.