The UFC will keep the action going from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, with an eleven bout Fight Night card.
In the main event, Ketlen Vieira squares off with former bantamweight queen Holly Holm, while Welterweight sluggers Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira duke it out in the co-main.
Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira (BW)
Holly Holm (14-5, 7-5 UFC) shot to stardom after that knockout over the once queen of the UFC, Ronda Rousey, with one of the most stunning head kicks ever seen in the Octagon. If Nunes is the most violent striker, Holm is the most technical. She has a long and credentialed career in both boxing and kickboxing and that has given her 8 of her victories in MMA by knockout, almost all with brutal kicks. She trains at Jackson-Wink MMA camp with none other than the infamous Jon Jones, and that has clearly worked wonders for her career. She prefers to stick to the outside of the cage, working down her opponent with her jab and teep kicks, as well as boasting fantastic clinch work. Since her knockout loss to Amanda Nunes in July 2019, she has won back-to-back decisions over Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana.
Ketlen Vieira (11-2, 5-2 UFC) surged into the UFC with four straight victories, including a second-round submission over Octagon vet Sara McMann. After being on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout against Irene Aldana, Vieira bounced back with a decision win over Sijara Eubanks. She could not get past Yana Kunitskaya, who emerged victorious in a narrow decision, but rebounded with a successful five round effort over former champion Miesha Tate. Vieira comes in with a jiu-jitsu and judo background which serves as her primary method of attack inside the cage. “Fenomeno” holds six finishes on her pro resume, four by submission, as she seeks to secure top control and work into submissions from dominant positions. Her striking is composed with a high volume, but her accuracy and middling defense make the ground game her best avenue to victory, particularly in this fight.
The fight presents a fairly stark stylistic clash between an elite striker and dangerous grappler. Holm has been at the top of the division for nearly seven years, and recent showings have displayed she still has the tools to compete with the best of them. Vieira’s dominant top game and judo background provide a different stylistic test than some of Holm’s recent opponents, but not one she has not seen before. Holm has elite takedown defense and range management, so I see her picking away at distance for a dominant decision win.
My Pick: Holly Holm via Decision
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Michel Pereira (WW)
After more than two years away from the cage, Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-4, 9-3 UFC) made his return back in January 2019, but was knocked out in the first round by Li Jingliang. He got back on the right track with a “Fight of the Night” decision against Miguel Baeza, but came up short in a split decision to Geoff Neal in his last outing. “Argentine Dagger” is a fearsome knockout artist holding twenty three finishes in his pro career, including seventeen by way of knockout. His striking is based around his pocket entries and long striking, keeping distance and a high defense before unloading with a variety of Muay Thai combos. He fights behind a skilled jab and moves well, setting up his power punches expertly with lead hand combos. Though his wrestling could use some improvement, his grappling skill, as well as his ability to reclaim his footing, keep the bout in his preferred wheelhouse on the feet.
Michel Pereira (27-11, 5-2 UFC) made headlines even on the regional scene with his wild striking style, complete with spin kicks and superman punches and everything else you could ever imagine. “Demolidor” is an entertainer at heart and throws a full variety of strikes, scoring sixteen stoppages over his career including ten by knockout. Pereira uses his long frame and size advantage for the weight class to unload power strikes from kickboxing range, holding a high defense. On the mat, Pereira is a BJJ black belt, excelling with his explosion but can be worn down by oppressive top control. He has shown gas tank concerns, but did show improved patience over his current win streak, which he extended to four with a decision win over Andre Fialho.
This bout is a shoe-in for Fight of the Night, as both are fearsome strikers who push for the knockout. Ponzinibbio looks to me the technically sharper fighter, but the striking volume and diversity look poised to present a unique challenge. What Pereira brings in all-out offense, Ponzinibbio can make up for with his own striking power, making this perfect matchmaking. While Pereira has a unique, fan-friendly style, it is not without its defensive lapses, along with his hsown cardio concerns. I see Ponzinibbio breaking the guard of Pereira for a highlight reel finish.
My Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio via Knockout
Chidi Njokuani vs. Dusko Todorovic (MW)
We have an exciting Middleweight clash in our featured bout, and I am not expecting this one to go the distance. Chidi Njokuani (21-7, 1-0 UFC)made his debut off the Contender Series, and needed only 15 seconds to put away Marc-Andre Barriault. He is a Bellator veteran, pro since 2007, and younger brother to UFC veteran Anthony Njokuani. Dusko Todorovic (11-2, 2-2 UFC) also came off the Contender Series, and similarly picked up a dominant finish. He was then toppled by prospect Punahele Soriano and then lost a decision to Gregory Rodrigues, though he got back on top with a ground and pound TKO over Maki Pitolo. While Dusko is a well-rounded fighter and definitely has the superior ground game, his striking defense remains a glaring hole that bodes ill for this matchup. Njokuani has the technique to find Dusko’s chin early and often, and the stopping power to shut his lights off when he does. Unless Todorovic can consistently drag the fight to the mat, I expect Njokuani to pick up another highlight reel KO.
My Pick: Chidi Njokuani via Knockout
Polyana Viana vs. Tabatha Ricci (SW)
Polyana Viana (12-4, 3-3 UFC) was on the verge of being cut, but has bounced back with two quick armbar wins to solidify her spot in the promotion. On the other hand, Tabatha Ricci (6-1, 1-1 UFC) made her debut in a short notice slot opposite Manon Fiorot, but got back on track with a decision over Maria Oliveira. Both fighters are competent grapplers and are dangerous from top or bottom, and I expect this to primarily play out on the mat. Both fighters are aggressive on the feet and can mix it up well, but Ricci has never shown any fear of pursuing grappling, and I see her with the superior takedown acumen. Though Viana is dangerous off of her back, I see Ricci taking over down the stretch for a competitive decision win.
My Pick: Tabatha Ricci via Decision
Eryk Anders vs. Jun Yong Park (MW)
Kicking off the main card action, we have a Middleweight bout between two well-rounded fighters. Eryk Anders (14-6, 6-6 UFC) will be looking to bounce back from his first career submission loss, while Jun Yong Park (13-5, 3-2 UFC) will also be trying to rebound after a TKO stoppage at the hands of Gregory Rodrigues. While Anders has the superior stopping power on the feet, he does not operate at the same pace as Park and absorbs shots more frequently, while Park has no issue slinging rapid hands in the pocket for all fifteen minutes. I also like the grappling of Park here, as he is the more consistent wrestling threat and can secure positions quite well. I expect a close fight, but one that Park edges with volume and top control.
My Pick Jun Yong Park via Decision
Six prelims fights lead up to the main card action, kicking off at 4 PM EST.
Categories: UFC Predictions