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.
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.