Ketlen Vieira Foils Miesha Tate’s Comeback with Unanimous Decision Win

Ketlen Vieira has foiled Miesha Tate’s comeback…

The 30-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist defeated Tate, one of the most popular women’s fighters in MMA history, via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Ketlen Vieira

Vieira used her counterpunching and length to win the standup battle and bloody Tate badly in the fifth and final round.

“That’s what I’m here for — I’m here to fight the best,” Vieira said through an interpreter. “Respect my skills.”

ESPN had Vieira ranked No. 8 in the world at women’s bantamweight entering Saturday.

Tate is the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion who returned after a five-year layoff in July with a TKO win over Marion Reneau. With a victory, Tate was hoping to earn a title shot against old rival Amanda Nunes, but she will have to go back to the drawing board.

“I’ve always dreamed about being in a main event against a legend,” said Vieira. “To be able to live that moment and get a victory, I don’t have words to express.”

The fight had many close rounds. Vieira admitted she was hesitant early on. Tate was the aggressor and landed hard shots in the early rounds. Vieira, though, always seemed to have an answer on the counter. The first round was a tossup, with both women landing big right hands. In the second, Vieira started to get into more of a rhythm, landing combinations.

Vieira kept that momentum in the third round, landing a beautiful right uppercut-left hook combination several times. Tate rebounded in a solid fourth round, landing a hard right hand at the round’s outset and then a takedown later on. Vieira really got off again with her punching combos in the fifth round, blasting Tate and making her bloody with a big right hand. By the end of the fight, Tate had a swollen left eye, bloody nose and lumped up face.

“The real thing is about enjoying the journey,” Tate said. “This is just a moment in time, you guys. We all have moments in our life. … What else can I say? I get to go home and kiss my two kids. Life is great.”

Tate was transported to the hospital after the fight for a CT scan on her head and face, according to UFC.

Vieira said she will be in Las Vegas for 10 more days and would love to work with Tate in the gym while she is in town.

“I’d love to have the chance and opportunity to train with her. She’s a legend,” Vieira said. “I look up to her.”

Added Vieira: “Miesha Tate is a world champion. She’s one of the best fighters in the world.”

Vieira (12-2) came in having lost two of her past three fights, most recently a unanimous decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya in February. She is now 2-2 in her past four. The Brazil native was 10-0 prior to this recent stretch. Vieira, 30, owns career wins over Cat Zingano and Sara McMann.

Tate (19-8) returned from retirement July 17 with a third-round TKO win over Reneau — Tate’s first-ever KO/TKO in UFC. The Washington native, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, retired in November 2016 after back-to-back losses to Nunes and Raquel Pennington.

Only Nunes has more wins in the UFC women’s bantamweight division since 2016 than Vieira, who has six victories during that span, tied with Irene Aldana and Pennington.

Tate, 35, won the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 196 in March 2016 with a fifth-round submission win over Holly Holm and lost it to Nunes at UFC 200 four months later. “Cupcake” is also known for her well-publicized feud with Ronda Rousey, which included two grudge matches.

Thiago Santos In Final Talks to Face Magomed Ankalaev in UFC Fight Night Next March

Thiago Santos could be returning to The Octagon in March…

The UFC is finalizing a light heavyweight fight between the 37-year-old mixed martial artist and Magomed Ankalaev to headline an event in March, according to ESPN.

Thiago Santos

The 205-pound contest will serve as the main event of a UFC Fight Night on March 12. The UFC has not announced a location yet for the event.

A former title challenger, Santos (22-9) is coming off a decision win over Johnny Walker in October. The Brazilian fighter challenged former champion Jon Jones for the title in July 2019 and suffered a serious knee injury in a decision loss. He dropped his next two bouts coming off knee surgery before rebounding in October.

Ankalaev (16-1) is one of the fastest-rising contenders in the division. The 29-year-old Russian is on a seven-fight win streak, including a decision over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267 two weeks ago.

Loopy Godinez Set to Make Modern UFC History Once Again with Fight Against Loma Lookboonmee

Lupita Loopy Godinez isn’t afraid to stay busy…

The 28-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist and UFC fighter will step in on short notice to fight Loma Lookboonmee at UFC Fight Night on November 20 in Las Vegas, UFC officials have confirmed.

Loopy Godinez Godinez’s next fight comes one month after she fought twice in the span of two weeks, making history during that period.

Lookboonmee’s original opponent, Cheyanne Buys, withdrew this week after testing positive for COVID-19, Buys wrote on Instagram. Godinez vs. Lookboonmee will be contested at strawweight.

When she steps into the Octagon next week, Godinez will set a modern UFC record with three fights in the span of 43 days, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The previous record was 65 days set by Dustin Pague in 2012. Top UFC prospect Khamzat Chimaev fought three times in 67 days last year.

Godinez’s activity would be the shortest span between three fights since Tank Abbott and Don Frye fought three times in one night at UFC: Ultimate Ultimate 96 on December 7, 1996.

Godinez (6-2) beat Silvana Gomez Juarez via first-round submission in her second UFC bout October 9. A week later, the Mexican fighter, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, fell to Luana Carolina via unanimous decision October 16 in a flyweight fight. Godinez, 28, is 1-2 in the UFC.

Lookboonmee (6-2), a 25-year-old prospect out of Thailand, has won two straight in the UFC.

Glover Teixeira Becomes Oldest First-Time Champion in UFC History

Glover Teixeira has accomplished what many thought impossible.

The 42-year-old Brazilian-American mixed martial artist defeated Jan Blachowicz via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:02 of the second round to win the UFC light heavyweight title on Saturday in the main event of UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi.

Glover Teixeira

Teixeira was a +210 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook.

At 42 years old, Teixeira is the oldest first-time champion in UFC history and the second-oldest fighter to win a UFC title, behind only Randy Couture.

Teixeira joins Couture and Daniel Cormier as only the third UFC fighter to win a title at age 40 or older.

The 14 UFC fights between Teixeira’s title loss to Jon Jones at UFC 172 on April 26, 2014, and Saturday, were the most between title shots in the same division in UFC history.

“Never give up on your dreams,” Teixeira said in his postfight interview. “No matter what people say, don’t listen to them. They’re gonna put you down. Don’t listen to those negative people. Believe in yourself.”

Teixeira took down Blachowicz in the first round and basically kept him there for the duration. In the second round, Blachowicz had success with his boxing. But Teixeira wobbled him with a left hook and then took him down again. This time, Teixeira was able to get mount, then take Blachowicz’s back and lock in the choke. “I’m breaking the rules — 42 years old,” Teixeira said. “I’m gonna keep breaking those rules.”

ESPN has Blachowicz ranked No. 5 in the world on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At light heavyweight, ESPN has Blachowicz ranked No. 1 and Teixeira at No. 2.

Teixeira (33-7) has won six straight and seven of his past eight, most recently before this weekend a third-round submission win over Thiago Santos in November 2020.

The Brazil native has 28 finishes in 33 career victories. Teixeira, a Connecticut resident, has been considered one of the top light heavyweights in the world for more than a decade, an incredible stretch of consistency and quality.

He has the most finishes (13) and submission victories (7) in UFC light heavyweight history. Teixeira’s 16 UFC light heavyweight wins are second most next to Jones (20).

“Glover Teixeira is and has been one of the toughest guys in the division for a very long time, this was his dream forever to get this title shot,” UFC president Dana White said. “He finally gets it and did it tonight.”

On Saturday, Teixeira said he would be returning to his childhood town of Sobralia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, with the UFC gold. “I told you guys I’m coming home with the belt,” Teixeira said. “And I am. The promise is done.”

“This guy never gave up,” White said. “All the adversity that he’s faced in his career and here at 42 years old, a few days after his birthday, he wins the title. It’s a pretty cool story. Couldn’t happen to a better guy, too.”

Junior dos Santos to Make Wrestling Debut This Week for All Elite Wrestling

Junior dos Santos is movin’ from the Octagon to the ring…

The 37-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC light heavyweight champion will make his professional wrestling match debut on Friday for All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Junior Dos Santos

The news comes after his release from the UFC earlier this year.

And dos Santos told ESPN on Wednesday that he is also in talks about making his debut in boxing.

“Let’s see,” dos Santos said. “I’ve been having some good conversations, even on boxing. Boxing, I think, would be the perfect way for me to go. I’m a boxing guy, everybody knows that. I’ve never had an official pro boxing fight. Maybe this is the time.”

Dos Santos didn’t go into detail about when he might fight in boxing or who the opponent could be, because he said he’s focusing right now on his work with AEW.

On Friday, “Cigano” will team with wrestlers Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky in a tag-team match against wrestling legend Chris JerichoJake Hager (who also fights for Bellator) and Sammy Guevara.

The match is part of an AEW storyline that involves dos Santos’ American Top Team MMA team backing up Page and Sky with American Top Team owner Dan Lambert as their on-screen manager.

Dos Santos and several other ATT fighters — including UFC veteran Paige VanZant, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and PFL champion Kayla Harrison — made their first AEW appearances as part of this storyline in August and September. Some have gotten physical in segments, but dos Santos will be the first one to actually wrestle in a match.

“I wasn’t really a big fan of it [before],” dos Santos said. “But this thing changed a lot. After Dan Lambert invited me to go there and see how hard it is. It’s not a joke, man. Those guys, they go hard. And they have to be very well-prepared for that. So, then when I saw all of it, I got very interested in it. And then I said, ‘Man, I want to do it.’ Ask Dan Lambert. I was saying, ‘Man, I need to be in that ring.'”

dos Santos said the most “amazing” thing for him was the loud, raucous pro wrestling crowds and how they interacted with the show.

“That type of energy was amazing to feel,” dos Santos said. “A long time, I don’t feel this way. Long time, I don’t feel this excited to go in the ring and perform and give the best of me and my performance. Man, I’m looking forward to Friday night.

“Back in the day, in the UFC and MMA itself, I was feeling kind of pressure all the time. I wasn’t being appreciated to be there. Now, it’s different. People love me to be there, even if they don’t like me. They are showing that.”

dos Santos was released by the UFC in March following four straight losses, though they all came against elite heavyweights.

dos Santos held the UFC heavyweight title in 2011 and 2012. He owns MMA victories over former UFC champions Stipe MiocicCain VelasquezFabricio Werdum and Frank Mir.

This weekend, dos Santos will be in a pro wrestling ring. But don’t be surprised to see him in a boxing ring at some point in the future, either.

“Let’s see what’s gonna happen next, but the boxing thing would be amazing,” dos Santos said. “As you guys know, I love knocking people out. I love punching people in the face. That would be a good way to go.”

Jorge Masvidal to Fight Leon Edwards at UFC 269 in December

Jorge Masvidal is preparing for a grudge match

One of the most infamous backstage scuffles in UFC history will be revisited in December, when the 36-year-old Cuban and Peruvian American mixed martial artist and fellow UFC welterweight Leon Edwards have agreed to meet inside the Octagon.

Jorge Masvidal

Edwards and Masvidal will square off at UFC 269 on December 11, UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN. Contracts have not yet been signed, but bout agreements have been sent to both parties.

This fight has held personal implications since March 2019, when Edwards and Masvidal were involved in a backstage incident at a UFC Fight Night event in London. Masvidal struck Edwards in the face after Edwards interrupted him during a postfight interview.

Later in the night, Masvidal would infamously describe the punches he landed on Edwards as a “three-piece and soda.”

Masvidal wrote in a tweet Monday: “You’re welcome #supernecessary”

In addition to settling a long-standing grudge, the matchup will have major implications on the welterweight division. Edwards (19-3) is riding a nine-fight win streak and is a strong candidate for a title shot in 2022. Masvidal (35-15) is coming off back-to-back failed title bids against Kamaru Usman in 2020 and 2021 but has said his goal is still to claim the UFC championship.

“Despite earning the next title shot, [Edwards] has always been willing to fight Jorge first, provided the terms were correct,” Edwards’ manager, Tim Simpson, told ESPN. “We are very happy with the deal, and excited to compete in December, and then for a world title thereafter.”

As a result of the UFC adding this high-profile bout to the card, a trilogy flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo has been moved to UFC 270 on January 22, according to the UFC.

UFC 270 on January 22 does not have an official location yet, but sources told ESPN the promotion is looking at Anaheim, which is only about 100 miles north of Moreno’s hometown of Tijuana, Mexico.

Cris Cyborg to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title Against Sinead Kavanagh

Cris Cyborg is going on the defensive…

The 36-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, one of Bellator’s top stars, will defend her belt next month.

Cris CyborgBellator president Scott Coker announced on The MMA Hour that Cyborg will defend her women’s featherweight title against Sinead Kavanagh on November 12 in Hollywood, Florida.

Cyborg (24-2, 1 NC) is one of the greatest women’s fighters in MMA history.

The Brazil native, who fights out of California, is 3-0 in Bellator, beating Julia Budd for the women’s featherweight title in January 2020.

Cyborg has lost just once since her pro debut in 2005, to UFC double champion Amanda Nunes.

Cyborg is the only MMA fighter to win titles in four major promotions: UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Invicta FC.

Kavanagh (7-4) has won two in a row. The 35-year-old Ireland native, who trains out of SBG Ireland (Conor McGregor’s team in Dublin), is coming off a unanimous decision win over Katharina Lehner in October 2020.

Charles Oliveira to Face Off Against Dustin Poirier for Lightweight Championship at UFC 269

Charles Oliveira has a new opponent…

The 31-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist (31-8) will face off against Dustin Poirier for the lightweight championship at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.

Charles Oliveira

The matchup had been in talks for weeks, and Poirier told ESPN late last month there was “a good chance” it would happen. The 32-year-old lightweight mixed martial artist wrote on social media that the bout is now official.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Poirier wrote on Twitter.

Representatives for Poirier confirmed to ESPN he has officially agreed to the December title fight.

A win against Oliveira would cap off an amazing year for Poirier, who has been fighting professionally since 2009. The Louisiana native kicked off 2021 by knocking out Conor McGregor in January at UFC 257. He followed that up with another TKO win against McGregor at UFC 264 in July, a fight that ended when McGregor suffered a serious leg injury at the end of the opening round.

UFC 269 will mark Poirier’s second attempt at an undisputed UFC championship. He challenged former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in September 2019, and lost via submission. Poirier is a former interim UFC champion, but has never held the undisputed title.

Oliveira, 31, captured the vacant UFC title by knocking out Michael Chandler in May. Fighting out of Brazil, Oliveira is riding a nine-fight win streak that includes eight finishes.

Thiago Santos Outlasts Johnny Walker to Win by Unanimous Decision at UFC Fight Night

Thiago Santos is celebrating another victory…

The 37-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist edged Johnny Walker via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Thiago Santos

The fight featured two of the most explosive knockout artists in the UFC light heavyweight division, but it never got out of first gear.

A big overhand left from Santos in the fifth round likely sealed the victory in the close contest.

Santos to win by decision was +650, according to the Caesars Sportsbook. Neither man landed more than 11 significant strikes in a single round.

“I tried to do my best,” Santos said in his post-fight news conference. “I tried to knock him out, but it’s hard to get close to him. He’s big, but he moves fast.”

ESPN has Santos ranked No. 10 in the world at light heavyweight and Walker was trying to ascend the ladder. Both men were born in Brazil, but live and train elsewhere.

Santos competes out of Florida’s American Top Team and Walker trains at Dublin’s SBG Ireland, the home gym of Conor McGregor.

Santos said in his post-fight interview on ESPN+ that he next would like to face top Czech Republic light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka.

Walker held a 4-inch height and 6-inch reach advantage, so it made it hard for the smaller Santos to get inside where he’s so effective with his hard hooks. But Walker also wasn’t very active offensively. The best techniques of the fight were Santos’ kicks to the legs and body of Walker.

Walker had a solid first round with leg kicks, keeping Santos at bay. Santos landed some hard kicks to the body and legs of Walker in the second round. In the third, Santos had his best head shot to that point, a left that wobbled Walker off a Walker kick. Walker got back some momentum in the fourth round with some kicks and a right hand, his best punch of the night.

Santos, though, cemented the win in the fifth. He landed two hard left hands and big body kick. Walker didn’t show much urgency down the stretch and the bout went to a decision.

Santos (22-9) came in tied for the second most KO/TKOs in UFC history with 11. “Marreta” snapped a three-fight losing streak with the victory. One of those losses came against then-champion Jon Jones in a 2019 UFC light heavyweight title fight in which Santos blew out both of his knees. Santos earned his first win Saturday since that surgery. He was coming off a unanimous decision loss to Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 259 in March.

“I come from a tough injury on my knees,” he said in his postfight interview. “It’s so tough to recover. … I was sure this fight I was going to do 100% better than my last fights. And I did. I’m going up, not down.”

Walker (18-6) was coming off a huge first-round knockout over Ryan Spann in September 2020. This was only the third time he’s been to a decision in his pro career. He has won all four of his UFC bouts via finish. Walker, 29, was considered an outstanding prospect before back-to-back losses to Corey Anderson and Nikita Krylov in 2019 and 2020. Now, he has lost three of his past four.

Amanda Serrano Signs with Jake Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions

It’s a Most Valuable moment for Amanda Serrano

The 32-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler has signed with Most Valuable Promotions, as Jake Paul expands his footprint in the boxing world by signing one of its top female fighters.

Amanda Serrano

Serrano, one of the best women’s fighters in the history of boxing, signed the promotional deal with Paul, the YouTube-star-turned-prizefighter, and his adviser, Nakisa Bidarian, who founded Most Valuable Promotions earlier this year.

Serrano is a seven-division boxing champion who has held nine titles from 115 pounds all the way up to 140 pounds. She holds the Guinness record for most boxing world championships held in different weight classes by a woman. ESPN has her ranked No. 3 among women boxers on its pound-for-pound list.

“They’re such a powerful team,” Serrano said. “I’ve seen what they’ve done in the last two years — what Jake has done, what Nakisa has done for Jake. I’m looking forward to what they can do for me.”

Amanda Serrano

Paul described Serrano as the “greatest Hispanic female athlete of all time” and said he believes she has a “massive, massive future.”

Amanda Serrano, left, became a seven-division world champion with a 2019 victory over Heather Hardy. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

“Without really much help she’s gotten this far, with just her skills,” Paul said. “She hasn’t had someone with a big platform really put her on. She’s so marketable. And really the sky’s the limit, and that’s what we do at MVP. There’s a new era of boxing and there’s a new way about promoting these fights and there’s a new way to become a big fighter. So, she already has the skills, and now we’re going to add our secret sauce into the equation.”

One of the goals, they said, is to secure Serrano with a highly anticipated matchup with Katie Taylor, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound women’s boxer. It would be one of the biggest fights ever in women’s boxing.

Bidarian said talks are ongoing with Taylor’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, and they are targeting Taylor vs. Serrano for the second quarter of 2022 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Serrano will likely fight next on Paul’s undercard, potentially before the end of the year, and then move on to the blockbuster bout with Taylor.

“The only reason it wouldn’t get done is if the right deal isn’t presented for Amanda, and that’s Jake and I’s job to make sure that’s not the case,” Bidarian said of the Taylor fight.

Bidarian is the former CFO of the UFC and has been instrumental in helping guide Paul from being a famous YouTuber to one of the most talked about fighters in combat sports.

“I think the other part of it that we’ll be able to help [Serrano] with is negotiating the right deals, getting her the right positions for someone of her stature — whether it’s in the ring, whether it’s outside the ring, whether it’s a brand partnership, consumer products,” Bidarian said. “She should be one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. We’re going to make sure that’s the case.”

Serrano (41-1-1) beat Yamileth Mercado in the co-main event of the card Paul headlined against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley on August 29.

A Puerto Rico native who fights out of Brooklyn, she is the unified women’s featherweight champion, holding the WBC, WBO and IBO titles in that weight class.

Serrano has won 27 straight fights, a streak that dates back to 2012. She is also 2-0-1 in mixed martial arts.

“Even this last fight, I’ve gained so much followers, I’ve gained so much attention,” Serrano said. “A lot of people, they know who I am. A lot of people know me now because of Jake.”

Paul has more than 17 million followers on Instagram, and 40% of them are women. He said after his bout with Woodley that his female followers were buzzing the most about Serrano.

“Major priority of mine [is] to push for equality in all aspects of the sport,” Paul said. “I think she’s inspiring females and creating female boxing fans, which is awesome.”

When asked if he would be bringing more boxers in via Most Valuable Promotions, Paul said potentially, but they would have to be the right fit.

“For us, it’s quality over quantity,” Paul said. “We want our fighters to be the biggest. I think there will be more. We’re not in any rush. We want to take our time and our focus right now is just on Amanda.”