Originally published at UFC Fight Night Report: Ketlen Vieira defeats Holly Holm by split decision
UFC Fight Night Report: Ketlen Vieira defeats Holly Holm by split decision
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a bout in the women’s bantamweight division, as the division’s former champion, Holly Holm, faced the fifth-ranked Ketlen Vieira. In Vieira’s last bout, she beat another former champion of the division in Miesha Tate, and a win against Holly Holm here would likely set Vieira up for a title shot in her next bout. For Holm, this marked her return to the octagon after a lengthy period of inactivity due to injuries. Holm had won her two previous fights, but with Amanda Nunes as the division’s champion, it was difficult to imagine Holm getting another title shot. However, the division was shaken up following Julianna Pena’s upset title win, and a new champion at 135lbs has created a potential path back to UFC gold for Holm. In the co-main event, the always exciting Michel Pereira was matched up against his first ranked opponent, Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Jon Anik provided commentary for this card alongside Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Chase Hooper and Chidi Njokuani. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Michel Pereira and Santiago Ponzinibbio.
*Sam Hughes def. Elise Reed by TKO at 3:52 of Round 3
*Chase Hooper def. Felipe Colares by TKO at 3:00 of Round 3
*Jonathan Martinez def. Vince Morales by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Uros Medic def. Omar Morales by TKO at 3:05 of Round 2
*Jailton Almeida def. Parker Porter by rear-naked choke at 4:35 of Round 1
*Joseph Holmes def. Alen Amedovski by rear-naked choke at 1:04 of Round 1
*Jun Yong Park def. Eryk Anders by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Tabatha Ricci def. Polyana Viana by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Chidi Njokuani def. Dusko Todorovic by KO at 4:48 of Round 1
*Michel Pereira def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Ketlen Vieira def. Holly Holm by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
ELISE REED (5-1, 115) VS SAM HUGHES (6-4, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Reed began the fight with a solid combination of strikes, which prompted Hughes to shoot for a takedown. Reed defended the attempt and landed a kick to the body after breaking from the clinch. Hughes caught a kick from Reed moments later, and this time she was able to take Reed down, where she began to work from the guard of her opponent. Hughes postured up and landed some strong ground and pound before Reed escaped to her feet. Hughes pressed Reed against the cage for the remainder of the round, keeping busy with short strikes.
Hughes quickly brought the fight back to the ground in round two. She was able to maintain top position for the entirety of the round, and Reed did not seem to have many answers for Hughes on the ground here. Hughes kept busy with short ground and pound strikes and won this round decisively. You could make the case that this was a 10-8 round in favor of Hughes.
It took Hughes roughly twenty seconds to take Reed back to down in the final round. Hughes moved into side control, where she was able to land a number of right hands. The strikes were not particularly damaging, but they added up, and Reed was unable to escape the position. Late in the round, Hughes was able to transition to full mount, where she proceeded to throw down elbows until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Sam Hughes by TKO at 3:52 of Round 3
This was a very one-sided fight in favor of Sam Hughes, who dominated every minute of this bout after taking Reed down in the first round. Reed had no answers for Hughes on the ground, and as she began to tire, Hughes was able to transition to more advantageous positions, which ultimately led to her finishing the fight. Hughes improved to 2-3 in the UFC with this win, and after the bout, she addressed Daniel Cormier calling her a quitter after her UFC debut against Tecia Torres, to which he replied that if he once called her a quitter, it’s likely because she quit.
CHASE HOOPER (10-2-1, 145) VS FELIPE COLARES (10-3, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT
They wrestled against the cage throughout the opening minute of the bout, as Hooper searched for a takedown. Colares was able to defend the attempt, and he proceeded to land a series of kicks before Hooper was able to catch one, and from there Hooper was able to successfully bring the fight to the ground. Hooper took the back of Colares multiple times throughout the next couple of minutes, but Colares was consistently able to scramble on top to escape danger. However, as the round progressed, Hooper began to really take over, landing strong ground and pound strikes while threatening submissions. Colares made it to the end of the round, but he looked absolutely exhausted.
Hooper brought Colares right back to the ground to begin round two, however, it was Colares who initially took top position following a brief scramble. Hooper threatened a leg lock to make it back to his feet, but the fight quickly went back to the ground, where Colares retained top position. At one point in the round, Colares was able to land a few damaging elbows from the crucifix position, however, Hooper was constantly active off of his back, which kept Colares from maintaining his position for any lengthy period of time. Hooper did scramble into top position before time expired, and I thought this was a fairly close round, although I gave the edge to Colares.
After a brief exchange of strikes in the pocket, Hooper quickly took Colares back to the ground. By this point in the bout, Colares did not seem to have much left in the gas tank, and Hooper recognized this, as he postured up and threw down ground and pound shots in an attempt to finish the fight. Colares was forced to give up his back, and Hooper attempted to lock in a rear-naked choke. Colares managed to escape the submission, however, he was ultimately finished just moments later, as Hooper postured up and threw down a series of ground and pound strikes that went unanswered, forcing referee Mark Smith to stop the bout.
WINNER: Chase Hooper by TKO at 3:00 of Round 3
The pace of this fight was hectic, and it wore on Colares quickly. I was impressed by Hooper’s performance here, as he was able to maintain that pace for the better part of three rounds, and by the time the fight reached its final round, Hooper’s significant edge in the cardio department allowed him to secure the late finish. This was one of Hooper’s better performances in the UFC, and while we didn’t see much of it, his striking looked much improved here compared to his previous outings in the promotion, really lending itself to his grappling heavy gameplan. Hooper’s UFC record now stands at 3-2.
JONATHAN MARTINEZ (15-4, 135.5) VS VINCE MORALES (11-5, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Martinez was active with kicks to the body and lead leg of Morales early in the bout, and he caught Morales with a sharp jab as Morales flurried forward. Morales seemed to be having trouble finding openings to attack but did land the occasional counter hook when Martinez picked up the aggression. The leg kicks from Martinez had added up by the end of the round, and Morales was reacting to them poorly, reaching down low in an attempt to catch the kicks. 10-9 Martinez.
Morales’s shin was looking beyond swollen by the start of round two. Martinez wasn’t quite as aggressive with his leg kicks in this second round, but everyone he did land was significant, and he had effectively shut down Morales’s offense as a result. Morales attempted to flurry forward on occasion but was unable to land a real fight-changing shot, and this was another clear round for Martinez. 20-18 Martinez.
The corner of Morales was telling him to turn this fight into a brawl, knowing that he was in need of a finish. As a result, I thought that Morales was slightly more aggressive throughout this final round, but Martinez countered well, and remained in control of this bout, even when he was fighting on the backfoot. In the final minute of the fight, Martinez changed levels and took Morales to the ground, where the fight remained until the final horn sounded. 30-27 Martinez.
WINNER: Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
The leg kicks from Martinez were the story of this fight, and they really shut Morales down quickly here. Martinez fought a great fight, picking Morales apart with his kicks while countering strongly whenever Morales attempted to mount some offense of his own. Martinez has consistently been a solid fighter since making his UFC debut in 2018, but he seems to really be coming into his own as of late, now with five wins throughout his last six bouts. After his win, Martinez asked for a ranked opponent next, specifically naming Frankie Edgar as a potential next opponent.
OMAR MORALES (11-2, 155.5) VS UROS MEDIC (7-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Medic aggressively attacked the body of Morales throughout the opening minute of the bout. Morales responded with a looping right hand that found its target, backing Medic off of him momentarily. Medic began to work his jab, but Morales was doing good work to keep Medic from getting too comfortable fighting from distance, flurrying forward with combinations. Just before time expired in the round, Morales landed a strong combination of punches to the body, which Medic responded to with a huge hook that found its target.
A few minutes into the second round, a strong counter left hand from Medic dropped Morales hard, and as Morales attempted to make it back to his feet, he was dropped once more. Once again, Morales was able to return to his feet, but he was clearly rocked badly, and a third left hand from Medic dropped Morales yet again, prompting referee Chris Tognoni to stop the fight.
WINNER: Uros Medic by TKO at 3:05 of Round 2
Uros Medic is a very entertaining fighter, and I thought this bout delivered as expected. Morales caught Medic with some strong combinations throughout the first round, but Medic had the clear power advantage, and his big shots just seemed to be doing a bit more damage. He caught Morales with a trio of left hands in the final seconds of the bout, each resulting in a knockdown, and while Paul Felder questioned the stoppage on commentary, I thought Chris Tognoni made the right call here. Medic is now 2-1 in the UFC, and this marked the longest bout of Medic’s entire career to this point.
JAILTON ALMEIDA (15-2, 224) VS PARKER PORTER (12-6, 265) – HEAVYWEIGHT
It did not take Almeida long to take Porter to the ground, despite Porter’s forty-one-pound weight advantage. Almeida began to work from half guard, where he postured up and landed strong ground and pound strikes. He eventually worked his way to the back of Porter, where he locked in a rear-naked choke and forced Porter to submit.
WINNER: Jailton Almeida by rear-naked choke at 4:35 of Round 1
Jailton Almeida looked fantastic in his UFC debut earlier this year against Danilo Marques, and this was more of the same. Almeida was originally scheduled to face Maxim Grishin on this card in a light heavyweight bout, but after Grishin was forced to withdraw from the fight, it was decided that Almeida would stay on the card, and instead face Parker Porter at heavyweight. Despite having a massive weight advantage over his opponent, Porter was unable to stop Almeida from quickly taking him down, where Almeida managed to finish the fight before the round’s conclusion. In all likelihood, Almeida will return to light heavyweight following this bout, however regardless of what division he competes in next, Almeida has looked like a very dangerous fighter, and he is certainly a name to keep an eye on as he works his way up the divisional ladder.
JOSEPH HOLMES (7-2, 185) VS ALEN AMEDOVSKI (8-2, 186) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Roughly a minute into the bout, Holmes landed a knee up the middle that floored Amedovski. Holmes followed him to the ground, where he locked in a rear-naked choke, forcing Amedovski to submit.
WINNER: Joseph Holmes by rear-naked choke at 1:04 of Round 1
Amedovski was really loading up with his strikes, clearly looking for an early finish, but it was Holmes who found his target first, effectively ending the fight with that knee up the middle. We didn’t get to see much from Holmes in his UFC debut, as Jamie Pickett was really able to wrap him up against the cage for the majority of the bout, and while this bout against Amedovski was rather short, Holmes was able to showcase his power, and ultimately leave much more of an impression. Holmes’s UFC record now stands at 1-1.
ERYK ANDERS (14-6, 1 NC, 186) VS JUN YONG PARK (13-5, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Anders brought the fight to the fence early, as he attempted to take Park down, but he lost the position after a knee inadvertently landed low. Anders quickly brought Park back into the clinch, however, and he started to throw some heavy shots whenever they would break apart. Park began to land some good strikes of his own in the latter half of the round, making up some ground late. Still, I gave the slight edge to Anders. 10-9 Anders.
Park defended a takedown attempt to begin the second round, but he was getting tagged by Anders’ left hand repeatedly. Anders continued to focus on pressing Park into the cage, however, at least until he lost the position once more due to a knee that landed low. Park was finding success countering whenever Anders attempted to close the distance but was not creating enough of his own offense, which was allowing Anders to pull ahead on the scorecards. 20-18 Anders.
Park went on the attack in round three, perhaps with the knowledge that he was likely down on the scorecards. Anders was not responding well to Park’s pressure, but his takedown attempts did a good job of slowing Park down. As the round progressed, Anders took the center of the octagon and began to pressure forward himself, as he had in the previous two rounds. It was a competitive third round, but the fight went the distance, and while I scored the round for Park, I scored the fight 29-28 for Anders as a whole.
WINNER: Jun Yong Park by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I was somewhat surprised by the decision here, as I thought Anders took the first two rounds comfortably, but in retrospect, I can see the case for awarding either of the earlier rounds to Park as well, who did significant damage whenever he committed to his attacks. Personally, I thought Anders did a bit more damage throughout the first two rounds, but it was certainly close. Park is now 4-2 in the UFC following this win, while Anders’ promotional record has fallen to 6-7 (1 NC).
At this point in the broadcast, it was announced that Giga Chikadze will be this year’s recipient of the Forrest Griffin Community Award, an award that recognizes a fighter for their charitable efforts and impact on their community. Chikadze’s charity, the “Knockout Cancer Foundation,” financially assists individuals fighting cancer, with money funded from Chikadze’s own fights. The charity was founded in memory of Giga’s mother, who tragically passed away from cancer in 2013, and the UFC aired a touching video package here detailing their story. Chikadze will be presented with the Forrest Griffin Community Award on June 30th, at the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony.
POLYANA VIANA (12-4, 116) VS TABATHA RICCI (6-1, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT
Viana landed a strong body kick, before jumping for a guillotine. Ricci avoided the submission and allowed Viana back to her feet. It wasn’t long before Viana attempted another guillotine, and while Ricci was able to escape yet again, this time Ricci chose to stay in the guard of Viana. Vianna wrapped Ricci up in her guard, and they remained in this position until the end of the round. 10-9 Viana.
Both fighters had relatively even levels of success on their feet throughout the first half of the second round. At one point Viana landed a solid spinning elbow but found herself taken down moments later. Ricci was not terribly active from top position, however, Viana seemed content to fight from her back, and much like the first round, the fight remained in this position until the horn sounded. 19-19.
Ricci shot for a takedown roughly ninety seconds into the final round, where she was once again successful in taking Viana down. Ricci did not do much before standing up, but she proceeded to take Viana right back to the ground regardless. Given that there was no meaningful damage done by either fighter or any notable submission attempts, I think you have to award Ricci the round based on control time. 29-28 Ricci.
WINNER: Tabatha Ricci by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Viana was far too accepting of working from the bottom position throughout this bout, and it led to a rather dull fifteen-minute fight. Ricci was repeatedly able to take Viana down and maintain top position, which really gave her the edge on the scorecards throughout the latter two rounds, in which there was no discernible difference in damage. Ricci improved to 2-1 in the UFC following this victory.
CHIDI NJOKUANI (21-7, 1 NC, 185) VS DUSKO TODOROVIC (11-2, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Njokuani defended an early takedown attempt Todorovic and threatened a D’Arce choke in the process. Todorovic escaped the submission and was able to secure top position on the ground, where he was able to maintain control of the action for the next few minutes. Eventually, Njokuani escaped to his feet, but could not create separation, and Todorovic pressed him against the cage, where he landed a number of short strikes as Njokuani threw knees to the body. With a minute remaining in the round, Njokuani broke away from Todorovic, and landed a combination of knees to the body, before catching him with a huge elbow that knocked Todorovic out.
WINNER: Chidi Njokuani by KO at 4:48 of Round 1
Todorovic controlled Njokuani on the ground and against the cage throughout the vast majority of this opening round, but Njokuani did an excellent job of attacking the body of Todorovic with knees despite this, and this created the opening Njokuani needed, landing the fight-ending elbow after Todorovic dropped his hands to protect his body. The finish was a brutal one, and this was certainly one of the stronger contenders for a performance bonus on this card. Njokuani improved to 2-0 in the UFC following this win, with both of those wins coming by way of first-round knockout.
SANTIAGO PONZINIBBIO (28-5, 170.5) VS MICHEL PEREIRA (27-11, 2 NC, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT
In the opening minute of the first round, Ponzinibbio was issued a hard warning following an eye poke to Pereira. Pereira landed the first big shot as the action resumed, a looping right hand that found its target. Ponzinibbio began to pressure forward but seemed somewhat hesitant to go on the attack. As a result, Pereira was comfortably out landing Ponzinibbio on the feet, nearly dropping him with a right hand late in the round. 10-9 Pereira.
Pereira attacked the body with kicks in the opening minute of round two, and he seemed to be overwhelming Ponzinibbio whenever he pressured forward. Ponzinibbio was having trouble finding his range, and it felt as though every time he went on the attack, Pereira would quickly back him up. Ponzinibbio began to throw these left hands late in the round that was tagging Pereira, however, Pereira remained slightly busier, and I scored this round in his favor as well, despite a late takedown from Ponzinibbio. 20-18 Pereira.
Another big right hand from Pereira found its target to begin round three. This fight turned into a bit of a brawl as the round progressed, with the fighters trading heavy shots at a fairly even rate. Both men were bloody messes as the fight reached its final minute, and while it felt as though Ponzinibbio was beginning to pull ahead in the brawl, Pereira’s chin held up, and the fight somehow went the distance. 29-28 Pereira.
WINNER: Michel Pereira by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Unsurprisingly, this was a very entertaining fight. Ponzinibbio was having trouble finding his range early, but as the fight progressed, he managed to turn the bout into a brawl. It was surprising that this fight ended up going the distance given the amount of damage that both of these fighters took, especially in that final round, but both men showcased remarkable durability. Pereira has now won five consecutive fights, and will likely be a ranked fighter after defeating the 14th ranked Ponzinibbio here. Pereira’s overall UFC record now stands at 6-2.
HOLLY HOLM (14-5, 135.5) VS KETLEN VIEIRA (12-2, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Vieira and Holm wrestled against the cage early, resulting in somewhat of a stalemate. Holm appeared to be the stronger fighter, and racked up the majority of the control time, but was unable to complete a takedown. Holm landed enough strikes in this position to keep the fighters from being separated and likely won this uneventful round. 10-9 Holm.
Vieira was doing some good work on the feet early in the second round, landing solid leg kicks as well as a few straight right hands. Holm picked up her activity as the round continued, but was taken down by Vieira soon after. Holm quickly worked her way back to the feet, where she started hunting for a takedown of her own. Vieira nearly caught Holm in a choke in the process, and Holm looked like she was a second away from tapping out, but Vieira lost her positioning, and the fighters continued to wrestle against the cage. 19-19.
It took less than a minute for Holm to bring the fight back to the cage. Vieira managed to break away, however, did not find much success on the feet before Holm brought her right back. They traded knees to the body, before Vieira connected with a strong right hand as they broke from the clinch. Even though Holm controlled the vast majority of this round, I thought Vieira landed the better shots and scored the round in her favor. 29-28 Vieira.
Vieira connected with another strong right hand in the opening minute of the fourth round. Vieira seemed to be landing with more power than Holm, but Holm remained the busier fighter and managed to knock Vieira off balance with a kick to the body at one point. Eventually, Holm opted to press Vieira against the cage yet again, but this time Vieira broke away quickly. In the final minute of the round, Vieira landed a short combination that knocked Holm’s head back but was unable to capitalize. 38-38.
Vieira was really tagging Holm with big shots to start the fifth round, including a heavy spinning elbow that found its target. Holm remained committed to her gameplan of wrestling Vieira against the cage but was not having the same success in the clinch that she was earlier. Vieira broke away and Holm landed a number of kicks, including a front kick up the middle. Holm shot for an unsuccessful single leg, which resulted in another extended period of time spent wrestling against the cage, where they remained until time expired. 48-47 Holm.
WINNER: Ketlen Vieira by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)
While I narrowly scored the fight for Holm, I had zero issues with Vieira getting her arm raised here. Holm was very ineffective with her control time, and despite out landing Vieira by a significant margin, Vieira was clearly the fighter landing with more power. I’m sure this is one of those fights that will result in a great deal of debate online regarding the scoring, but I genuinely believe there is a fair case for both fighters based on the scoring criteria. Vieira now holds an overall UFC record of 7-2, with her last two wins coming over notable fighters in Miesha Tate and Holly Holm respectively. In all likelihood, Vieira will fight for the Bantamweight Championship in her next bout, however, I could see a rematch against Irene Aldana being on the table as well, depending on the outcome of the upcoming Pena/Nunes title bout.