The main event at UFC Vegas 43 offered a massive opportunity for the winner, whether it be ex-bantamweight champ Miesha Tate, or Brazilian Ketlen Vieira.
For Tate, Saturday’s fight in Las Vegas marked her second bout back from retirement. Despite being just two fights into her comeback, Tate’s name value meant she could be on the fast track to a rematch with Amanda Nunes — who had all but cleaned out the 135lb division.
For Vieira, a win over Miesha Tate would be the biggest of her career, and although she entered Saturday’s contest off a loss, such a victory would no doubt be a boost to her own title hopes.
The pair circled early, both women looking for an opening. Vieira kept Tate at bay with her jab, and the former champ couldn’t seem to find a way inside through the opening minute and a half. When Tate did fire a 1-2, Vieira was quickly out of harm’s way. Tate mixed in a few kicks, but Vieira’s right hand continued to touch the American whenever she got close.
In the second half of the round, Tate fired off a combo, landing a couple of shots before being countered. Tate finally closed the distance with just over a minute remaining, landing several punches before tying Vieira up against the fence — but she could not get the fight down, and instead, they’d engage in another exchange.
Vieira had her hands going early in the second, and Tate soon found herself with her back to the fence, circling out of the way. As the round went on, Tate found herself backing up too frequently, and couldn’t find an opening to land a takedown. When she did change levels and shoot, Vieira easily fought off the attempt. Tate needed a Plan B as they headed to the third. She had found some success with her hands, and even a front kick upstairs, but nothing that did much damage to Vieira.
An eye poke by Tate temporarily halted the fight early in the third, giving Ketlen Vieira time to recover. As the action resumed, Tate pumped her jab. She pressed the action a bit more, with Vieira perhaps feeling the aftereffects of that poke. But again, Tate could not find an opening when she looked for a takedown. When she finally bullied Vieira to the fence, the Brazilian fought off the takedown, and escaped back to center. Tate would punch her way in again at the end of the round, firing knees in the clinch.
Miesha turned the heat up again in round four. Jabs, a kick to the body, and different angles had Vieira fighting a little more defensively. This time, Tate managed to land a takedown, albeit briefly, and take the back. Vieira stood up as Tate was trying to get hooks in, while Miesha stayed on the position, keeping a body lock latched in place.
Vieira would eventually free herself, and find success with body shots. Tate fired a low kick, but ate a right hand for her troubles. Vieira was backing Tate up every time she closed the distance, her reach and striking a continuous problem for Tate.
Early in round five, Tate landed a kick to the body, while Vieira hit home with her right hand once again. Tate was likely down on the scorecards, and the takedown would be key to any possible finish for her. The longer the fight stayed standing, the more unlikely that felt. Another right hand by Vieira bloodied Tate’s nose, and while she was taking big swings of her own, Miesha just wasn’t landing. Or at least, not landing often enough in comparison to Vieira.
— UFC (@ufc) November 21, 2021
A loss on the scorecards halts the Tate comeback train for now, while Vieira walks away with the biggest win of her career.
Official Result: Ketlen Vieira def. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)