UFC 258 just ended in an explosive fashion as Welterweight king Kamaru Usman put on a tantalizing display against former friend and training partner Gilbert Burns. Fans of the UFC were treated to an amazing card and the UFC keeps delivering, this time at the Apex in Vegas with a heavyweight showdown in UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Lewis.
The Co-main sees a women’s bantamweight bout between two exceptionally gifted women in Brazilian Ketlen Vieira and Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya. Ketlen Vieira is ranked 6th in the women’s bantamweight division, with Yana Kunitskaya ranked 7th, and both women would want to impress and push into that top 5 and make their journey towards UFC gold.
Ketlen Vieira (11-1-0) possesses incredible technique and boasts an impressive win streak, with her only career loss coming against Irene Aldana at UFC 245. Ketlen Vieira aims to bounce back from that loss and impress in the co-main against a talented well-rounded striker in Yana Kunitskaya (13-5-0). Kunitskaya has 3 wins in her previous 5 bouts and would want to keep improving on her record against Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 19.
Below I preview this exciting bout between two incredibly impressive martial artists and give my take on the fight.
Ketlen Vieira is incredibly gifted in technique and grappling. This comes as no surprise considering that she holds black belts in jiu-jitsu and judo and has an impressive wrestling pedigree as well. She would definitely need to work on her striking if she wants to continue impressing in the bantamweight division and push for her shot at the GOAT Amanda Nunes.
Ketlen Vieira aims to improve her record against a talented taekwondo practitioner. She definitely has the odds against her if the fight stays on the feet so she would want to make it a grappling match and test Yana’s endurance and heart on the ground. I expect Ketlen to push for the takedown and not give Yana any chance of composing herself on the feet.
If she’s able to make it a ground game, she has an incredible advantage and would surely be confident that her grappling background will assist her in another victory. Her resolve will be tested immensely though if she isn’t able to secure an early takedown and Yana gets too comfortable in her range and striking.
A dogfight is the last thing she wants, but if she can show us her striking pedigree against a well-rounded striker, then she would surely put her name on notice in a division that needs a challenger to the crown.
Yana is a veteran of combat sports and she is only 31. She started out at the age of 16 so her experience, along with her standup is key to victory against Ketlen Vieira. Kunitskaya’s boxing and taekwondo are surely massive tests for Ketlen and she will want to keep the fight standing at all costs.
Yana needs to be wary of the early takedown by Ketlen, and if she’s able to stuff a takedown or two in the early rounds, she might give Ketlen a few more things to think about. Defending the takedowns, and checking leg kicks are key to her keeping the fight standing up, where she can utilize her vast arsenal and score a finish, or points for the victory.
Should the fight get to the ground, or clinch, Yana would need to show how well-rounded of a martial artist she is and prove herself against a black belt. Her stock would surely rise if she can display impressive groundwork and defend from her back. I expect her to be wary of those takedowns and her phenomenal coaches at Jackson Wink will surely prepare her for that.
The fight is exciting on multiple levels, not only is the division looking for new challenges for Amanda Nunes, but it needs these young women to step-up and impress. Ketlen Vieira is on a roll, and will not want to add an L to her record, she aims to vie for that number 1 contender spot, and standing in her way is a tough individual.
Yana Kunitskaya has an incredible number of fights under her belt and will surely want to make it count as she makes her way up the rankings and into that title contention spot. She needs to show up and impress against a talented grappler and show how varied her fight game is, and put herself on notice in the division.
I think the fight is poised to be a banger. I expect both women to come out and put their hearts on the line, and show why they are so revered in the bantamweight division. The fight can go either way but I expect both women to be prepared to show just how far they’ve come in the UFC. This is a fight you definitely don’t want to miss.
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