Women’s bantamweight action with obvious but unofficial title implications saw #2-ranked Ketlen Vieira taking on a former title challenger in #5-ranked Raquel Pennington at UFC Vegas 67.
The winner would almost certainly be in the running for Amanda Nunes’ next title defense.
Both women starting out with some quick hand movement, feints, and in-and-out. Vieira fired her right hand, which might have got Pennington’s attention. “Rocky” fired a kick moments later, and it was mostly single strikes through the opening minute.
When Pennington did close the distance, behind her jab, Vieira fired back, with some real pop in her punches. Just past the midway mark of the round, Pennington was cut, and spending a fair bit of time on the defensive. She continued to work her jab, and did catch Vieira with a solid left hand with just over a minute remaining in the frame.
Round two saw Pennington find success with a combo early, after having taken her share at damage. She was then able to latch on a body lock from the back, pushing Vieira up against the fence. This was more of her comfort zone, but Vieira broke free and moved off the cage. Pennington then hit home with a jab right up the middle — and Vieira’s mouth was bloodied.
In a clinch, Pennington landed a knee with her back to the fence— but the action was halted as the blow strayed a little south. Vieira was given time to recover, while the ref warned Pennington for the unintentional foul.
Back under way a short time later, the back-and-forth continued. Vieira worked some kicks, Pennington worked her jab, then fired a 1-2 with the right hand connecting. Pennington then clinched up and fired a knee before Vieira backed up up to the fence.
Round three, following a tough of the gloves, had Pennington letting her hands go while landing some leg kicks. “Rocky” fired a superman punch, then Vieira returned fire. Both ladies landed. Vieira then drove Pennington to the cage; Pennington, with one overhook, fired knees, then found separation and broke off. A 1-2 followed for Pennington, who then returned the favor from moments earlier and drove Vieira against the fence. Vieira looked for a throw, but couldn’t land it, though she did reverse position.
Vieira managed to find just enough space to connect with a step-in elbow, and later another. Pennington did not like that, and jogged a few steps out of harm’s way. They clinched up again, and Vieira managed to take the back standing, slipping one hook in. The Brazilian never could get the fight down, however, but finished the round in the driver’s seat.
Official Result: Raquel Pennington def. Ketlen Vieira by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)