UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs. Tate

This week’s UFC card features 12 bouts, headlined by a five round main event in the women’s bantamweight division between Ketlen Vieira and Miesha Tate.

The action gets started at 3pm EST and streams on ESPN+.

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Miesha Tate (-105) vs. Ketlen Vieira (-115)

In the main event, Miesha Tate takes on Ketlen Vieira in a five round women’s bantamweight bout. These two were supposed to fight last month, but Tate tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was postponed.

Earlier this year, Tate returned from a nearly five year retirement and finished Marion Reneau in the third round with ground and pound. Tate is a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, upsetting Holly Holm with a fifth round rear-naked choke. Tate would then lose the title to Amanda Nunes, getting submitted in the first round via rear naked choke. She would then retire after dropping a unanimous decision to Raquel Pennington. Tate is 6-4 overall in the UFC with four wins by decision. She was finished in three of her four losses, twice by submission.

Vieira had won her first four fights in the UFC, but has lost two of her last three, most recently dropping a unanimous decision to Yana Kunitskaya. Four of her five wins in the UFC have come by decision. Besides the loss to Kunitskaya, she was knocked out in the first round by Irena Aldana.

Vieira and Tate are pretty similar fighters so this should be a tightly contested battle. Tate is a good wrestler and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, while Vieira is a Judo black belt with good wrestling skill, especially her takedown defense. Vieira is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt as well. On the feet, neither are high volume strikers, but Vieira probably holds a slight edge in technique.

Vieira has great takedown defense as she’s only surrendered two takedowns in the UFC so Tate will have to work hard to get Vieira to the ground. However, once she’s on her back Vieira has proven easy to hold down. Tate doesn’t defend takedowns as well as Vieira so Vieira could have some success there.

The X factor in this fight is likely Vieira’s cardio and ability to fight five hard rounds, which is a mystery right now. Vieira will probably look sharper early on, but I have concerns with her cardio and more faith in Tate the longer the fight goes. The more tired Vieira gets, the easier the takedowns will come and Tate is strong on top. The pick is Tate by decision.

PREDICTION: Tate by decision

Sean Brady (-150) vs. Michael Chiesa (+130)

In the co-main event, welterweight prospect Sean Brady puts his 14-0 undefeated record on the line against Michael Chiesa. Brady is 4-0 in the UFC and has submitted Christian Aguilera and Jake Matthews in his last two fights. Brady has seven wins by decision, four by submission and three by knockout.

Brady is a rising star in the welterweight division. He is a solid wrestler and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt so his submission grappling is his biggest strength. Brady has good cardio and decent striking to go along with his strong grappling skills.

Chiesa had won his first four fights at welterweight until he ran into Vincente Luque, who submitted him in the first round with a D’Arce choke at UFC 265 earlier this year. Chiesa is 11-5 in the UFC with six wins by submission. He’s been finished in all five losses, four times by submission.

Chiesa does his best work in the submission grappling department. He’s a good wrestler and will aggressively hunt for submissions, but he’s also liable to get submitted himself against equally strong grapplers. On the feet, Chiesa is pretty limited. He doesn’t throw a ton of volume, nor does he absorb much in return.

This is a good test for Brady as Chiesa has been ranked in the top ten of the welterweight division for a long time. I give Brady the edge everywhere over Chiesa, especially as a striker. Brady has the skills to submit Chiesa, but if Chiesa can neutralize the grappling, Brady is just far more comfortable as a striker. I’m expecting to see a lot of grappling in this match and for Brady to get another finish.

PREDICTION: Brady by second round submission

Kyung Ho Kang (-115) vs. Rani Yahya (-105)

Kyung Ho Kang and Rani Yahya were supposed to fight in late July, but the fight was scrapped on fight day when Yahya tested positive for COVID-19. Kang has won six of eight fights since joining the UFC, but hasn’t fought in nearly two years. He has three wins by submission and three by split decision.

Kang’s biggest strength is his grappling. He’s a solid wrestler with good top control and the ability to dominate and finish weaker grapplers. Kang is an average striker with questionable defense.

Yahya has only lost twice in his last 11 fights. He’s 8-2-1 in that stretch and 12-4-1 overall in the UFC. He has seven wins by submission with the rest of his fights going to decision, win or loss. He’s coming off a second round arm-triangle choke of Ray Rodriguez earlier this year and has submitted his opponent in his last four wins.

Yahya is one dimensional as a grappler, but he’s very good in that dimension. He’s not a great wrestler, but he’s aggressive and will chain wrestle until he gets you to the ground. He’s very limited as a striker and has poor cardio as well.

Kang is going to have a six inch reach advantage over Yahya which should loom large here. Kang will want to keep Yahya at the end of his jab, which will make it more difficult for Yahya to attempt takedowns. Kang is no stranger to tangling with dangerous grapplers on the ground, but it’s in his best interest to just sprawl and brawl here. If Yahya can’t initiate grappling exchanges, this is Kang’s fight to lose. The pick is Kang by decision.

PREDICTION: Kang by decision

Taila Santos (-380) vs. Joanne Wood (+290)

Since losing her UFC debut by split decision to Mara Romero Borella, Taila Santos has won three in a row, all by unanimous decision. Most recently, she defeated Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 266. She’s 18-1 overall with twelve finishes, ten by knockout.

Santos’ biggest strength is her strength and physicality. She has some power in her strikes, but she’s fairly low volume. Most of her success in the UFC has been from being physically stronger than her opponents, taking them down and grinding out wins.

Formerly Joanne Calderwood, now she’s just Joanne Wood after marrying John Wood, the head coach at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. She has lost three of her last five, but her last fight was a highly debateable split decision loss to Lauren Murphy. She’s 4-3 since moving to flyweight and 7-6 overall in the UFC. Wood has five wins by decision and two finishes. She’s been submitted three times in the UFC, all in the first round.

Wood is a high volume Muay Thai striker with decent wrestling and grappling skills. She just isn’t very powerful or physical and that’s going to be a problem against Santos.

Santos is a big favorite and justifiably so. She’d have to fight a terrible game plan or gas out quickly to lose to Wood. Wood is the better technical striker and pushes a good pace, but I just don’t see her being able to keep Santos from pushing her into the cage and imposing her will. The pick is Santos.

PREDICTION: Santos by decision

Adrian Yanez (-320) vs. Davey Grant (+250)

Adrian Yanez is one of the hottest bantamweight prospects in the UFC and has knocked out all three of his opponents so far. In his last fight, he had to dig deep to finish Randy Costa in the second round. He’s won seven fights in a row since losing a split decision to UFC veteran Miles Johns in LFA. Yanez is 14-3 overall with eleven finishes, nine by knockout.

Yanez is an aggressive and powerful striker. He struggled with the jab of Costa in his last fight, but eventually just poured on the pressure in the second round until Costa couldn’t take anymore. His grappling hasn’t been tested in the UFC, but that might change in this fight.

Davey Grant had a three fight winning streak snapped in his last fight when he dropped a unanimous decision to Marlon Vera. Grant has been in the UFC since 2013, but he’s just 4-4. He’s won his last two fights by knockout and been submitted in three of his four losses.

Grant’s biggest strength is probably his grappling, but he’s not a good wrestler or very athletic so he’s been choosing to strike more lately. He does have two knockout wins recently, but he was also dropped and hurt in both his fights. He’s tough and been durable to this point.

I think Grant is in big trouble on the feet with Yanez. Grant may carry some power, but Yanez is just so much faster and more technical than Grant and Grant has been getting hurt and dropped by less dangerous strikers than Yanez. Grant has never been knocked out, but there’s a first time for everything.

PREDICTION: Yanez by first round knockout

Pat Sabatini (-125) vs. Tucker Lutz (+105)

Pat Sabatini has won his first two fights since joining the UFC, most recently he survived early danger against Jamall Emmers and wound up submitting Emmers with a heel hook in the first round. He defeated Tristan Connelly by unanimous decision in his UFC debut. He’s 15-3 overall with 12 finishes, 11 by submission.

Sabatini is a solid wrestler and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt so his grappling is his strength. His striking isn’t great and cardio could be a concern.

Tucker Lutz earned his UFC contract after two appearances on the Contender Series. He defeated Chase Gibson by unanimous decision, but his unanimous decision over Sherrard Blackledge is what really impressed Dana White. In his UFC debut, he defeated Kevin Aguilar by unanimous decision. Lutz is 12-1 overall with eight finishes, six by knockout.

Lutz is a wrestle-boxer with solid cardio. He pushes a solid pace on the feet and has decent striking metrics. He impressed me against Aguilar, especially how he transitioned from striking to his takedowns.

Lutz looks like a tough matchup for Sabatini. Lutz is a more comfortable striker than Sabatini and should have good enough takedown defense to keep this on the feet, where he’ll outwork Sabatini. Sabatini is definitely dangerous early with his grappling, but the longer the fight goes the more it favors Lutz.

PREDICTION: Lutz by decision

Rafa Garcia (-120) vs. Natan Levy (+100)

Rafa Garcia is winless in two fights since joining the UFC after going 12-0 prior to his debut, dropping unanimous decisions to both Nasrat Haqparast and Chris Gruetzmacher. Garcia was 7-0 in the Combate Americas promotion and won the lightweight title, defeating UFC veteran Humberto Bandenay. Garcia has eight finishes, seven by submission.

Garcia was impressive in defeat in his UFC debut against Haqparast. Mostly known for his grappling, he hung tight on the feet and was beating Haqparast early. Against Gruetzmacher, Garcia sold out early for the finish and gassed out. He scored five takedowns, but couldn’t hold Gruetzmacher down and got beat up standing.

Natan Levy punched his ticket to the UFC with a third round arm-triangle submission of Shaheen Santana on the Contender Series almost exactly a year ago. Levy is now 6-0 with three wins by submission and three by decision. His first five fights all took place in LFA.

Levy is a well-rounded fighter and solid prospect. He is a good striker, especially with his kicks. He is also a solid wrestler with a variety of ways to get the fight to the mat, whether it’s a body lock or single and double leg takedowns. Levy is well versed on the ground with good top control. He’ll look for submissions, but isn’t reckless. Cardio has looked like an issue at times, but it looked good on the Contender Series.

I like the potential of Levy as a prospect and I’m not that high on Garcia. Levy appears to be the stronger grappler and I prefer his kick heavy striking to Garcia’s boxing. The pick is Levy.

PREDICTION: Natan Levy by decision

Lupita Godinez (-165) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (+145)

Lupita Godinez will make UFC history with her third fight in just 43 days as she steps in for Cheyanne Buys after Buys tested positive for COVID-19. Godinez submitted Silvana Gomez Juarez in the first round on October 10th and turned around just a week later to take a fight, up a weight class at flyweight, against Luana Carolina. However, the size was too much for Godinez and she lost a unanimous decision. She’s 1-2 in the UFC and 6-2 overall with four wins by decision.

Godinez has been very aggressive with her wrestling since joining the UFC. Prior to her debut, her boxing looked like her biggest strength.

Loma Lookboonmee has won three of four fights since joining the UFC with unanimous decision wins over Aleksandra Albu in her UFC debut, Jinh Yu Frey and most recently over Sam Hughes. She lost a unanimous decision to Angela Hill. She’s just 6-2 overall as an MMA fighter.

Lookboonmee is a seasoned Muay Thai fighter that has transitioned well to MMA. As expected, Lookboonmee is strong in the clinch, throwing punches, knees and elbows and will dump opponents to the mat. The biggest concern is her defensive grappling and size as she’s fought as light as atomweight.

I mentioned earlier that Godinez struggled with the size of Carolina, but this fight is back at strawweight so she should have a size and strength advantage over Lookboonmee. Now that doesn’t mean she’s going to come in and just land takedowns at will with Lookboonmee’s strong clinch skills. Maybe Godinez will be too strong with her wrestling, but I’m leaning towards Lookboonmee to defend enough takedowns and land the more effective strikes.

PREDICTION: Lookboonmee by decision

Fares Ziam (-115) vs. Terrance McKinney (-105)

After losing his UFC debut to Don Madge by unanimous decision, Fares Ziam has won two straight, a debateable unanimous decision over Jamie Mullarkey and most recently a majority decision over Luigi Vendramini. He’s 12-3 overall with nine finishes, five by submission.

Ziam is a low volume kickboxer and he doesn’t have much power either. His takedown defense is a concern as well as he’s been taken down nine times in three fights.

Terrance McKinney burst onto the UFC scene as a short notice replacement against Matt Frevola, knocking Frevola out in just seven seconds. McKinney is 11-3 overall and his last four wins have come in a combined 112 seconds. McKinney has finished ten fights in the first round and has only been to the third round once in his career. In fact, 12 of his 14 fights have ended in the first round.

McKinney is obviously a fast starter and has a knack for the quick finish, but his ability to fight effectively past the first round is a mystery. He’s athletic and explosive with solid striking and comes from a wrestling background.

I’ve never been impressed by Ziam and McKinney is the type of fighter to give him fits. McKinney is a better wrestler and grappler, which is a clear weakness of Ziam. This fight likely boils down to how good McKinney’s cardio really is. If he doesn’t get a finish and slows down drastically, Ziam probably just pumps the jab in his face for the last two rounds. In the end, I think it will be a moot point as McKinney gets another early finish.

PREDICTION: McKinney by first round submission

Cody Durden (-160) vs. Aori Qileng (+140)

Cody Durden is winless in two fights since joining the UFC, fighting to a unanimous draw in his UFC debut against Chris Gutierrez and then being submitted in the first round via a flying triangle choke by Jimmy Flick. Durden is 11-3-1 overall with ten finishes.

Durden is another wrestle-boxer that likes to hunt for the quick finish. He’s a better wrestler than striker, but he has questionable cardio.

Aori Qileng made his UFC debut earlier this year at UFC 261, losing a unanimous decision to Jeff Molina. Aori is 18-8 overall with eleven wins by decision. Five of his eight losses have come by decision, the other three by submission.

Even in defeat, Qileng had an exciting UFC debut. He set a good pace and was beating Molina early, but his striking defense cost him in the second round and Molina pulled away in the third.

This should be a pretty wild fight and I’m slightly leaning towards Qileng. I trust him more than Durden to win a dogfight and unless Durden can score an early finish, I think that’s what this will be.

PREDICTION: Qileng by third round knockout

Sean Soriano (-275) vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke (+220)

Sean Soriano has yet to win a fight in the UFC in four tries. He’s on his second stint in the UFC and coming off a second round submission loss to Christos Giagos as a short notice replacement earlier this year. He’s been submitted in three of his four UFC losses and five times overall in his career. Eleven of his fourteen wins have come by finish, seven by knockout.

Soriano is a strong striker, but he has poor takedown defense, defensive grappling and cardio.

Shaylian Nuerdanbieke made his UFC debut earlier this year, losing a unanimous decision to Joshua Culibao. He’s 19-7 overall with 14 finishes, 9 by knockout. He’s been finished five times, four by submission.

Nuerdanbieke is an aggressive wrestler as we saw in his UFC debut as he attempted 14 takedowns. However, he only landed two. He isn’t the most skilled striker or submission grappler.

This is the most winnable fight of Soriano’s UFC tenure and I’m not overly confident in him. He has a big edge in striking, but his biggest weakness plays right into Nuerdanbieke’s biggest strength. If Soriano doesn’t get the early finish, this fight could get very interesting. Leaning towards Soriano, but Nuerdanbieke is definitely live.

PREDICTION: Soriano by first round knockout

Luana Pinheiro (-435) vs. Sam Hughes (+330)

Luana Pinheiro had quite the controversial UFC debut, picking up a disqualification win over Randa Markos after Markos hit her with an illegal upkick. Pinheiro may have embellished the extent of the damage, but a win is a win and Pinheiro was dominating up until that point. She earned her UFC contract with a first round knockout of Stephanie Frausto. She’s 9-1 with eight finishes, five by submission.

Pinheiro is a powerful striker and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as well as Judo. She likes to use the head and arm throw, which I don’t love, but it’s been effective. Cardio is the biggest concern considering all her early finishes.

Sam Hughes is winless in two fights in the UFC. She lost her UFC debut to Tecia Torres by first round doctor stoppage and then dropped a unanimous decision to Loma Lookboonmee. She’s 5-3 overall with four finishes, three by submission.

Plain and simple, Hughes isn’t very good. She does have three submission wins so I guess you could say her biggest strength is her grappling.

This has all the makings of a showcase fight for Pinheiro, she just has to do her part. She’s a better striker, wrestler and grappler than Hughes. The only concern would be cardio if for some reason she doesn’t score an early finish.

PREDICTION: Pinheiro by first round submission

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