Holly Holm and Kelten Vieira could put themselves on the shortlist for a UFC women's bantamweight title fight with a win at UFC Fight Night. Holm vs. Vieira headlines the latest event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 21.
Holm (14-5) is always on the cusp of another UFC title shot. The former bantamweight champion and perennial contender is still driven by the allure of gold around her waist. One of the most accomplished women's boxers in history, capturing titles in three divisions and accumulating 16 title defenses, championships are a way of life for Holm. A win over Vieira puts Holm on the first winning streak of her UFC career since her debut stretch culminated in an all-time memorable knockout of Ronda Rousey.
"I have to win, regardless," Holm said at Wednesday's media day. "I hate to lose, anyway. I just hate to lose no matter what is on the line. That's No. 1. I want to get in there and I want to win on Saturday. But, also, as far as a career, if you don't win, the next steps and options are never as many as you want. They are limited. In the long run, I need this win if I want to keep progressing to getting the belt."
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Vieira (12-2) could inject some fresh blood into the women's bantamweight title picture. A six-year UFC veteran, Vieira has experienced a slow, incremental assent up the company ladder. Losses to Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya halted her momentum but a win over Miesha Tate, arguably the most high-profile of her career, sets her up for a big follow-up fight. Vieira is a fan of Holm and is prepared to put her best foot forward against another female combat sports legend.
"I admire her a lot," Vieira said on Wednesday. "I used to watch her fights before I knew I wanted to fight in UFC. I watched her fight against Ronda when she shocked the world and, for me, it's a dream come true to fight another former champ that I admire so much. I have a lot of faith in myself.
"I always dreamed about being a main event in the UFC, and now I have the opportunity to do it again with another elite athlete... It's a dream come true for me."
Saturday's co-main event promises explosions as exciting strikers Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira trade leather. Ponzinibibo, once considered among the most promising prospects at 170 pounds, has struggled with consistency since returning from a 26-month layoff following career-threatening infections. On the flip side, Pereira bounced back from a rough UFC start and has strung together four consecutive wins.
The rest of the main card fills out with three more bouts. Chidi Njokuani takes on Dusko Todorovic in a middleweight contest. Veteran Eryk Anders is back in another middleweight bout when he battles with Jun Yong Park. And the action begins with a women's strawweight contest between Tabatha Ricci and Polyana Viana.
Here is the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Holly Holm -260||Ketlen Vieira +210||Women's bantamweight|
|Michel Pereira -135||Santiago Ponzinibbio +115||Welterweight|
|Chidi Njokuani -260||Dusko Todorovic +210||Middleweight|
|Jun Yong Park -210||Eryk Anders +175||Middleweight|
|Tabatha Ricci -130||Polyana Viana +110||Women's strawweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: May 21 | Start time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas, Nevada
Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira: Holm is in a tricky place. The former boxing and UFC champion is always a viable title contender. Unfortunately, age and failed opportunities are beginning to catch up to her. Holm has lost five times in her pro MMA career: four in title fights and one to eventual flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. The days of Holm as a surefire world champion are probably behind her. If Holm is content with that, she can churn out wins until she calls it a career. Holm's health has benefited from a late start in MMA and little sustained damage. She has only been knocked out three times in 57 combined pro boxing and MMA bouts. Her striking remains one of the best in a rather shallow division and she has rounded out her MMA game enough to repel wrestling heavy offense. Vieira is a solid if unspectacular fighter. A fight-ending threat on the regional scenes, Vieira has only mustered one finish -- a 2017 submission of Sara McMann -- across eight UFC fights over six years. A loss to Yana Kunitskaya last year says more about her ceiling than a win over Miesha Tate, the latter of whom has fought only twice since 2016. Expect Holm to pick apart Vieira at range, stave off takedown attempts and take her victory lap. Holm via UD
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