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An imperfect performance from Ketlen Vieira may not have piqued the mixed martial arts world’s interest, but it figures to at least point her back in the right direction.
The Nova Uniao export called upon power punching combinations, most of them aimed at the head, and caused more than enough damage to warrant a unanimous decision over former Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce titleholder Miesha Tate in the UFC Fight Night 198 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges scored it for Vieira: 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46.
In her second appearance since ending her four-year retirement, Tate played the bull to the Brazilian’s matador. She moved forward mostly behind single punches, forced Vieira onto her back foot and drew out counters from the Andre Pederneiras protégé. Tate was successful in spurts but could not hide the cost associated with playing the aggressor. By the time their 25-minute encounter was over, she was bleeding heavily from the nose and struggling to see out of her badly swollen left eye.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Vieira vs. Tate,” here are four matches that ought to be made:
Ketlen Vieira vs. Raquel Pennington-Julia Avila winner: Vieira improved to 6-2 in the UFC and steadied herself within the women’s bantamweight division by outpointing Tate across five rounds. Even so, there were some red flags. Vieira, 30, was plagued at times by an apparent lack of initiative, which led to her being outlanded by a narrow margin (122-113) in the significant strikes department, conceding a takedown and surrendering nearly three minutes of control time to her counterpart. As a result, the Brazilian still has plenty of work to do before the buying public views her as a viable title contender at 135 pounds. A win over Tate represented another step forward in her development, but it lacked the pizzazz necessary to erase the memories of her disappointing decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya nine months ago. Pennington and Avila will square off UFC Fight Night 199 on Dec. 18.
Sean Brady vs. Stephen Thompson-Belal Muhammad winner: The undefeated Brady accelerated his rise through the welterweight ranks with a unanimous decision over Michael Chiesa in the three-round co-headliner. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28. Brady seized the reins in the first and second rounds, where takedowns and superiority in the grappling exchanges carried the Daniel Gracie-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to a commanding lead. He then held serve against Chiesa in Round 3, where “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 winner mounted a late surge behind volleys of power punches. The win moved Brady to 15-0 overall and 5-0 in the UFC, likely setting the stage for his arrival as a Top 10 contender at 170 pounds. Thompson will lock horns with Muhammad at UFC Fight Night 199 in December.
Taila Santos vs. Valentina Shevchenko: The UFC may have identified its next No. 1 contender at 125 pounds. Santos extended her current winning streak to four fights and did so in spectacular fashion, as she submitted Joanne Wood with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Wood bowed out 4:49 into Round 1. Santos engaged the Scotswoman on the feet and recorded two knockdowns before transitioning to the back and slamming the door with the submission—her first since April 4, 2015. Since losing a contentious split decision to Mara Romero Borella in her promotional debut nearly three years ago, the Astra Fight Team star has rattled off consecutive victories against Molly McCann, Gillian Robertson, Roxanne Modafferi and now Wood. Shevchenko last appeared at UFC 266, where she put away Lauren Murphy with fourth-round elbows and punches to retain the undisputed women’s flyweight crown.
Adrian Yanez vs. Sean O'Malley-Raulian Paiva winner: The hype behind Yanez kept right on building, as the Metro Fight Club representative recorded his eighth straight win and improved to 4-0 in the UFC with a split decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 18 finalist Davey Grant in a three-round bantamweight attraction. Judges Junichiro Kamijo and Eric Colon struck 29-28 marks for the Saul Soliz disciple, while Tony Weeks laid down a head-scratching 30-27 scorecard for Grant. Still just 27 years of age, Yanez has not tasted defeat since he wound up on the wrong side of a split verdict against Miles Johns under the Legacy Fighting Alliance banner some three years ago. O’Malley will toe the line against Paiva at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.
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