Ketlen Vieira positioned herself as one of the top bantamweights on Saturday night after taking an airtight split decision win against Holly Holm in the main event of a UFC “Fight Night” card.
Vieira’s victory headlined a show from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Vieira’s victory came after a close 25 minutes of action. The fight mostly took place on the feet, apart from a couple of takedowns landed by Vieira. The successful bantamweight had the better moments at the striking range, often landing the better punches against Holm.
The fight had a steady pace during striking exchanges throughout. Neither fighter seemed to get particularly hurt at any point, but they both certainly landed clean shots on each other.
A fair portion of the battle was in clinch positions engaged by Holm, especially in the earlier rounds. These sections of the fight were particularly slow-paced, as the bantamweights periodically connected with strikes while in the position.
Vieira’s best moment in the fight came early, as she threatened Holm briefly with a rear naked choke on the feet in the second round.
Saturday marked the second time that Vieira has won against a former champion in the main event of a card. Her previous fight was in November 2021, when she beat Miesha Tate via decision.
Following her win, she made it clear that a title fight was her next goal.
“I’m the next champ in the bantamweight division,” said Vieira.
Holm was surprised by the result of the fight shortly after it was announced.
“I thought I won the fight. I gave her round two, and I gave myself the rest of the rounds,” said Holm in her post-fight interview.
Many viewers of the event also saw Holm as the winner. 18 of the 20 media scorecards saw Holm as the winner, per MMADecisions.com.
All of the official scorecards at the event were close, giving it three-rounds-to-two on for either fighter.
Holm was appearing for the first time in nearly two years. Her previous fight was a 2020 victory against Irene Aldana.
Pereira Keeps Streak Alive Against Ponzinibbio
Michel Pereira kept his winning streak alive in Saturday’s co-main event, taking a close split decision over Santiago Ponzinibbio.
The welterweights engaged in a stand-up striking battle through all three rounds.
Pereira had a strong start to the fight, beginning with an active first round. Ponzinibbio began to up his output in the second round, making it a much closer fight. By the final round, the welterweights kept their pace alive and made it a strong back-and-forth contest.
Pereira has now strung together four consecutive wins. He appeared earlier this year, defeating Andre Fialho via unanimous decision.
Ponzinibbio has lost two consecutive fights in the UFC. His previous bout came late last year, when he dropped a split decision to Geoff Neal.
Njokuani Lands Elbow Knockout For Second UFC Win
Chidi Njokuani scored another big win on Saturday night, stopping Dusko Todorovic in the first round with a massive elbow.
Njokuani floored Todorovic late in the opening round, landing an elbow to the head while exiting a clinch position. The strike earned him a walk-off win, as the referee was quick to step in and end the fight after it connected.
Todorovic smothered Njokuani earlier in the round with clinch positions.
Njokuani has now put together a strong start to his promotional run.
He made a statement in his UFC debut earlier this year, stopping Marc-Andre Barriault in 16 seconds. The Bellator vet now has two consecutive wins in the UFC.
After his win, Njokuani offered to fight on the UFC’s July 30th card, which is scheduled to take place in Dallas, Texas.
Todorovic was coming off a win over Maki Pitolo in December 2021. He has now lost three of his past five fights.
Ricci Takes Decision Over Returning Viana
Tabatha Ricci picked up her second UFC victory on Saturday night, taking Polyana Viana to scorecards for a unanimous decision result.
Ricci picked up her win through top control and minimal striking on the feet.
Viana would often pull guard to be on her back during ground positions. Ricci controlled these positions by avoiding submission attempts and landing strikes in full guard.
Ricci also sometimes left a ground position altogether, forcing the fight back up to the feet where she was the more active fighter.
Ricci won her UFC debut last year, defeating Maria Oliveira in a unanimous decision result.
Viana was making her first appearance in over a year on Saturday night. She had a two-fight winning streak before this weekend’s card.
Park Gets Split Decision Nod Against Anders
Park Jun-yong pulled off a close split decision win in the opening bout of the main card, defeating Eryk Anders after three rounds.
The victory came after a three-round battle on the feet. The stand-up contest was close in every frame, and neither fighter had a clear lead at any point.
“I was a little nervous, to be honest with you, going into the scorecards,” said Park through a translator in his post-fight interview.
Park had a strong three-fight winning streak snapped in his previous appearance, suffering a second-round finish loss to former LFA Middleweight Champion Gregory Rodrigues.
Anders also entered this weekend following a loss, having suffered a first-round armbar submission against Andre Muniz late last year.
The Rest of the Card
Joseph Holmes picked up his first UFC win with a quick performance, catching the returning Alen Amedovski with a knee and then submitting him in the second minute with a rear naked choke.
After winning his UFC debut at light heavyweight recently, Jailton Almeida moved up to heavyweight this weekend to secure a first-round rear naked choke win over Parker Porter.
Uros Medic bounced back from his sole UFC loss on Saturday night, knocking down Omar Morales twice in the second round for a finish victory.
Jonathan Martinez earned his third consecutive UFC victory on Saturday night, working toward a unanimous decision win against Vince Morales.
Chase Hooper showed massive improvements in his appearance this weekend, finishing Felipe Colares in the third round to close out a dominant grappling-heavy performance.
Former LFA Strawweight Champion Sam Hughes picked up her second UFC win to open the card, closing out a strong showing with a third-round ground and pound finish against Elise Reed.
Main Card (7:00PM EDT / 4:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Bout 11: Ketlen Vieira def. Holly Holm via Decision, Split
Bout 10: Michel Pereira def. Santiago Ponzinibbio via Decision, Split
Bout 9: Chidi Njokuani def. Dusko Todorovic via TKO, Strikes (RD 1, 4:48)
Bout 8: Tabatha Ricci def. Polyana Viana via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 7: Park Jun-yong def. Eryk Anders via Decision, Split
Preliminary Card (4:00PM EDT / 1:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Bout 6: Joseph Holmes def. Alen Amedovski via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 1:04)
Bout 5: Jailton Almeida def. Parker Porter via Submission, Rear Naked Choke (RD 1, 4:35)
Bout 4: Uros Medic def. Omar Morales via TKO, Strikes (RD 2, 3:05)
Bout 3: Jonathan Martinez def. Vince Morales via Decision, Unanimous
Bout 2: Chase Hooper def. Felipe Colares via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 3:00)
Bout 1: Sam Hughes def. Elise Reed via TKO, Strikes (RD 3, 3:52)