UFC Vegas 19 Results: Striking Trumps Grappling as Kunitskaya Gets by Vieira

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Yana Kunitskaya and Ketlen Vieira, UFC Vegas 19
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 20: (L-R) Yana Kunitskaya of Russia punches Ketlen Vieira of Brazil in a bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The UFC Vegas 19 co-main event saw a key women’s bantamweight fight play out. Or it would have, had Ketlen Vieira not missed weight for the bout, necessitating a 138lb catchweight. Still, her match-up with Yana Kunitskaya had the potential to catch the eye of champ Amanda Nunes — although news of Holly Holm vs. Julianna Pena being booked for May likely tempered expectations.

From the outset of Saturday’s co-main event, Vieira’s game plan was clear: get the fight to the ground. Ketlen immediately pursued a takedown out of the gate. Kunitskaya fought it off, and the pair battled in the clinch, Kunitskaya working in some knees and reversing. But with half the round still ahead, Vieira finally managed to put the former Invicta FC champ on her back. Brazil’s Vieira came close to passing to mount, but Kunitskaya trapped her in half guard. The rest of the frame would play out on the ground, with Vieira far more comfortable and in control.

When the pair went to the ground early in the second, after a clinch, it was Kunitskaya landing on top. A much better spot to be in, but Vieira stayed busy on bottom. Kunitskaya worked from guard, while avoiding submission attempts and traps. Her corner urged her to stay heavy, and that is exactly what Yana Kunitskaya did. But after Vieira briefly trapped a leg, she was able to escape up, with the pair going back at it in a clinch. Again, off a Vieira-initiated takedown, Kunitskaya was in control. They were quickly back up, then down again, Kunitskaya still on top, landing knees to the body.

Heading into the third, it was likely even. Vieira landed an early takedown, planting Kunitskaya on her back. Vieira worked to pass guard, with Kunitskaya just barely keeping her in half-guard. The Russian would spend most of the round fending off Vieira, with the Brazilian taking her back and getting hooks in later in the frame. After the scare that was the second round, Vieira’s control in the third appeared to have salvaged the victory for her. Kunitskaya reversed late, however, finishing on top with heavy blows that did some serious damage. And that appeared to be the difference maker.

The striking of Kunitskaya proved more effective in the end — giving her a unanimous decision win. The story of the fight was clearly written on Vieira’s face after the bout.

Official Result: Yana Kunitskaya def. Ketlen Vieira by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-29)

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