Ketlen Vieira is one of a very small handful of contenders in the UFC’s bantamweight division that has not yet run up against Amanda Nunes. However, coming off a loss against Irene Aldana, Vieirea (10-1) isn’t yet in striking distance of the title.
She could be, however. A big win against Sijara Eubanks at UFC 253, depending on the outcome of Aldana vs. Holly Holm a week later, could drastically change the title picture at 135lbs.
Brazil’s Vieira, however, isn’t worrying about what ifs. “I have to really focus on Sijara right now, there’s no point in thinking forward,” she told Cageside Press during the UFC 253 virtual media day this week. “If I don’t beat her, she’s my opponent in front of me, so I really have to think about her right now.”
Vieira might just be happy to be fighting at all. She’s had no fewer than four dates fall through, against two opponents in Yana Kunitskaya and Marion Reneau. It seems, thus far, like the Eubanks fight will stick.
“I use these challenges as my motivation,” Vieirea said of all the setbacks. She had another one this week, when one of her coaches tested positive for COVID-19.
As it stands, she will fight on — with adjustments having been made due to the shift in opponents from Reneau to Eubanks.
“They’re both high-level black belts. The only difference is Sijara is a little bit smaller,” explained Vieira. “So we just had to adjust a little bit of our range.”
The fight itself, in Ketlen Vieira’s opinion, is “going to be a great war. We’re both fighting to move up in the rankings, so I think it’s going to be a great three-round war.”
Watch the full UFC 253 virtual media day interview with Ketlen Vieira above.