Before taking a break for the Thanksgiving weekend, the UFC will host one more event with a former champion headlining the show at UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs. Tate this Saturday night.
Former bantamweight titleholder Miesha Tate made a successful return to MMA by defeating Marion Reneau by TKO back in July. She was originally slated to take on Ketlen Vieira in October, but a positive COVID test pushed the bout back a month. Vieira will be looking to rebound from her last performance, where she lost a closely contested unanimous decision to Yana Kunitskaya. Vieira is 1-2 in her last three fights and needs a win over a big name like Tate to remain relevant as a contender in the bantamweight division.
The co-main event is a welterweight showdown between standout grapplers. Michael Chiesa’s star was rising, and he was making his name as a top contender at welterweight, before stumbling in his last fight. In Aug., he lost by first-round submission to Vicente Luque. He will look to get back on track by becoming the first person to defeat Sean Brady. Born and raised in Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood, Brady is a former Cage Fury FC welterweight champion. He transitioned seamlessly into the UFC and has won his four first contests inside the promotion. He has looked more and more impressive as he gets deeper into his tenure, picking up two stoppages in his last two fights.
Elsewhere on the main card, are a pair of men’s bantamweight showdowns with Davey Grant taking on Adrian Yanez, and Rani Yahya squaring off against Kyung Ho Kang. Rounding out the main card is a women’s flyweight bout with the surging Joanne Calderwood stepping into the cage to fight Taila Santos.
UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs. Tate will take place inside the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nev. The event airs in its entirety live on ESPN+ starting at 3 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.
Will Miesha Tate continue her renewed success by picking up a second straight victory over Ketlen Vieira this weekend?
Sumian: It was not long ago when the MMA community scoffed at the idea of Miesha Tate returning to professional competition. Instead of a complete disaster, which many former fighters face upon returns from long layoffs, the former women’s bantamweight champion stole the show when she knocked out Marion Reneau in the third round. She is looking to continue her comeback when she faces Brazil’s Ketlen Vieira in a showdown that should deliver formidable interest and entertainment.
It was not long ago that Ketlen Vieira was on the verge of a title shot before suffering a knockout loss to Irene Aldana back at UFC 245. Since then, she has compiled a 1-1 record, defeating Sijara Eubanks and subsequently losing to Yana Kunitskaya. The number-seven ranked women’s bantamweight is a renowned grappler who holds black belts in both jiu-jitsu and judo, which has translated into an 11-2 record in MMA. She holds impressive wins over veterans Sara McMann and Cat Zingano and will look to earn the biggest victory of her career when she takes on Tate.
It is reasonable to assume that Tate could have compiled a dominant championship run in the UFC had Ronda Rousey never existed. Despite this, Tate is inarguably one of the most liked and accomplished women’s mixed martial artists in history. She will likely find herself as a Hall of Fame inductee once she has officially retired. She holds victories over Holly Holm, Jessica Eye, Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche throughout her career, and she will use her recent revitalization to ensure that fans remember her name once it is all said and done.
Vieira certainly has the tools to defeat Tate come Saturday night, but this will not be the case. Instead, the Brazilian will flounder under pressure, and Tate’s star power, and this will lead to a convincing unanimous decision for the former champ. This will quite possibly set up a future date with a top-five opponent. Tate will likely never hold the belt again, but she will put on a run worth remembering in her comeback campaign.
Petela: That left hook that Irene Aldana knocked out Vieira with was picture-perfect – reminiscent of the great Joe Frazier, but more about him later. Vieira has gone 1-1 since that fight and has never really gained back the momentum she once had. This opportunity against a former champion and beloved figure like Tate could do a world of good for both her position in the division, as well as her popularity. Vieira won’t be overwhelmed by the moment, headlining a UFC card for the first time in her career. Instead, she will seize the moment and derail Tate’s hopes at marching back to a title shot.
Vieira will stifle the offensive grappling of Tate and, instead, be able to secure takedowns of her own and out-grapple the former champion. When Tate tries to close the distance, she will be met by stiff uppercuts and knees that leave her gun shy and fighting off her back foot. Vieira will be able to successfully navigate her way to the clinch and secure a trip or bodylock takedown, winding up on top of Tate where she will unleash frenetic ground-and-pound. Ultimately, it will be early in the second round where the referee halts the contest to stop Tate from suffering any unnecessary damage.
Michael Chiesa had a four-fight winning streak snapped in his last outing; does he get back on track by handing Sean Brady his first professional loss?
Petela: No. Instead, Sean Brady will pick up the biggest win of his career and cement himself as a legitimate contender in the already talent-stacked welterweight division. This fight is going to be a grappling fan’s delight. Brady is a black belt under Daniel Gracie and has shown with his last two performances how well versed he is on the mat. In Aug. 2020, he picked up a submission by guillotine choke over Christian Aguilera, and he followed that up with an arm-triangle submission of Jake Matthews last March.
Chiesa may technically be a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, but he is very much at the black belt level in MMA grappling. This one will hit the mat early, and we will get the pleasure of seeing some tremendous scrambles and grappling exchanges for as long as it lasts. There is no scientific rationale behind this, but there’s something about an undefeated fighter not knowing how to lose that will bolster Brady this weekend. He will work his way out of difficult positions and exhaust Chiesa, who will think he is on his way to a submission win. With an exhausted opponent underneath him, Brady will pick up his third straight stoppage win and open the eyes of all the fighters ranked above him.
Sumian: Despite the undoubtable skills that Brady possesses, beating the likes of Matthews is like a walk in the park compared to taking on Chiesa. This is an extremely risky move by Chiesa, which can lead to him tumbling down the welterweight ladder, if he drops a second straight loss to the fourteenth-ranked welterweight Brady. While Brady certainly has the skill set and personality to be a well-known name in the division, the next step will not come to fruition on Saturday night.
Chiesa will rebound with a convincing unanimous decision win, as he deploys a strategic and straightforward game plan in effort to negate the hype and submission skill of Brady. This fight should result in an entertaining grappling match, but could also turn into a very uneventful slow-paced bout, which generally favors Chiesa. He will slightly derail the hype of Brady come Saturday, and hold onto his much needed ranking to stay relevant in the division.
Natan Levy – do we need to know this name?
Sumian: Hard to tell with the Israel native as he makes his UFC debut after compiling a perfect 6-0 record. At five-feet-six-inches tall, he will likely be giving reach and height advantages to bigger opponents in the lightweight division. But, he has certainly put on a streak that deserves some recognition. He takes on Rafa Garcia who is 0-2 in his UFC career, so this may position Levy for an impressive performance that launches his name into future prospective UFC lightweights in the coming years. Until that happens, there is no reason to get anyone’s hopes up.
Petela: I agree, Levy is a wait-and-see type of prospect. It wouldn’t shock me if he dropped a couple quick bouts and was released, nor would it surprise me if he picked up a few nice wins and quickly rose towards the rankings. A lot will be answered this weekend when he takes on Garcia.
What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?
Petela: Sam Hughes. “Sampage” has dropped her first two fights since being signed by the UFC. She has a tough test in her third appearance, Luana Pinheiro. Pinheiro looked impressive in her UFC debut, defeating Randa Markos. The win came by disqualification after Markos landed an illegal upkick, but that doesn’t take away from how good Pinheiro looked until the stoppage. This fight won’t be particularly close, and Pinheiro will pick up her sixth career submission win, ending Hughes’ tenure with the world’s premier MMA promotion.
Sumian: Approaching this question from a different perspective, and I’m going with Michael Chiesa. In an effort to secure his place in the division, and not completely tumble down the welterweight ladder, Chiesa is in an absolute must-win fight against Brady, who is the new hotness. Chiesa is currently ranked sixth and found himself derailed after suffering a first-round finish to Luque. It seems that Mike “Maverick” always gets close to the top before suffering a defeat that brings his rise to a significant halt. To keep history from repeating itself, the Colorado-born veteran needs to bring his A-game and put away the surging Brady in an impressive fashion.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Sumian: How can one not go with the incredible bantamweight matchup between Rani Yayha and Kang Kyung-ho. This a classic grappler matchup that should showcase some incredible martial arts action. Yayha and Kyung-ho combine for 32 professional submission victories and will put on an all-out grappling war once they meet in the Octagon. Expect this one to comfortably earn “Fight of the Night” honors and feature loads of action.
Petela: Pat Sabatini vs. Tucker Lutz. If it weren’t for how exciting this fight is going to be, it would be a shame to see these two up-and-comers square off so early in their UFC tenure. These two Mid-Atlantic standouts have won all three of their combined fights with the promotion so far, with Sabatini sitting at 2-0, and Lutz at 1-0. Sabatini is the bigger submission threat of the two, and Lutz likely carries bigger firepower, so this one could end emphatically either way. It will be fun as long as it lasts.
Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?
Petela: Davey Grant. He has walked away with post-fight bonuses in his last three outings, and he will make it four in a row, with an extra check, after his bout with Adrian Yanez. Grant has developed fight-ending power as he has gotten later in his career, picking up two of his three career knockouts after turning 34 years old. His opponent Yanez has also picked up post-fight bonuses in three straight fights, so expect fireworks early and often in this one. Grant will walk away with a late finish and an extra fifty thousand dollars in his pocket.
Sumian: Taila Santos. She will put a beating on Joanne Calderwood, which will signify a passing-of-the-torch moment, as the prospect surpasses the contender. Santos is a dangerous women’s flyweight who has yet to turn in a finish in her UFC campaign. Expect that to change come Saturday.
Pair this card with…
Sumian: Grappling, grappling and more grappling. This card features several high-level ground fighters matched up against each other. Expect to see scrambles, submissions and a number of position changes, as the combatants put on a show for the MMA community. The evening will top-off with two impressive victories turned in by Cheisa and Tate, as they effectively outwork their younger counterparts. They will prove to the world they still have what it takes to compete with the best of the best.
Petela: “When the Smoke Clears”, the documentary about the most underappreciated boxer of all time, who just so happens to be the greatest fighter to come out of Philadelphia. With the “City of Brotherly Love” picking up two wins this weekend by Brady and Sabatini, it’s only right to get a closer look at the man who largely built Philadelphia’s reputation as one of the greatest fight cities on the planet.
Main Card (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
Women’s BW: Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate
WW: Michael Chiesa vs. Sean Brady
BW: Rani Yahya vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Women’s FlyW: Joanne Calderwood vs. Taila Santos
BW: Davey Grant vs. Adrian Yanez
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET)
FW: Pat Sabatini vs. Tucker Lutz
LW: Rafa Garcia vs. Natan Levy
SW: Loma Lookboonmee vs. Loopy Godinez
LW: Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam
FlyW: Cody Durden vs. Aoriqileng
FW: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Sean Soriano
SW: Luana Pinheiro vs. Sam Hughes
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