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UFC Fight Night: Holm v Vieira Predictions

Former champion Holly Holm makes her much-anticipated return in a high-stakes bantamweight battle against imposing Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 55 on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time).

UFC Fight Night Betting

Former champion Holly Holm makes her much-anticipated return in a high-stakes bantamweight battle against imposing Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 55 on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

The co-main event promises to light up the UFC APEX in Las Vegas as Santiago Ponzinibbio squares off against Michel Pereira, one of the most creative and entertaining fighters in the world, in what’s set to be a welterweight war. 

The main card also includes two tantalising tilts in the middleweight division with Chidi Njokuani taking on Dusko Todorovic and Eryk Anders facing Park Jun-Yong, along with a strawweight scrap between Polyana Viana and Tabatha Ricci.

MAIN CARD (from 1 AM Sunday SA time):

Holly Holm (1.40) v Ketlen Vieira (2.90) (Bantamweight)

Two of the biggest and baddest bantamweights in the world take centre stage in a possible title eliminator. It’s legend versus budding legend killer and No.2 versus No.5 at 135 pounds. 

Last in action in October 2020 and entering the five-round main event at the age of 40, the return of the higher-ranked Holm (14-5) is massive for the division and victory paramount if she’s to earn one last shot at golden glory. 

As a multi-time world champion boxer, Holm boasts arguably the best hands in women’s MMA and has world-class footwork. It’s her kicks, though, that’s been her greatest weapons inside the Octagon. 

She uses her long and lanky legs like spears on the outside and sledgehammers in the pocket, which famously saw her knockout Ronda Rousey to win the title back in 2015 and starch Bethe Correia in 2017.

The latter highlight-reel finish was the last of her eight knockouts. All three of her wins since then are by decision, the most recent over Irene Aldana in a tactical and technical chess match.

Vieira (12-2) is a queen-slayer in the making. The 30-year-old’s coming off a major win over former champion Miesha Tate, who dethroned Holm back in 2016, while she also holds wins over former title challengers Sara McMann and Cat Zingano.

The big Brazilian’s jiu-jitsu prowess has earned her four submission wins, the last coming over Olympian McMann in 2017. Her triumph over Tate last November – in what was her maiden main event and first time going 25 minutes – showed the improvement she’s made in her striking, but getting the fight to the ground is her only real path to victory. 

Deep into her MMA career, Holm has picked up almost all the tricks when it comes to keeping the fight on the feet, where she has the advantage over 99% of the roster. 

Her balance is brilliant, her knowledge of entry points and how to pivot to avoid being taken down and technical scrambling to get back to a vertical base in the rare case she does get taken down means she should be able to stave off Vieira’s grappling attacks. 

“Fenomeno” doesn’t have the punching power to finish the fight with a single blow or to force Holm out of her comfort zone on the outside. “The Preacher’s Daughter” will stay disciplined as she always does, use her footwork, distance control, fast and versatile kicking game at range and crisp boxing in close to outpoint the Brazilian. 

Prediction: Holm via decision.

Best Bet: Holm at 1.40

Alternative Bet: Holm by decision at 1.90.

Santiago Ponzinibbio (2.00) v Michel Pereira (1.80) (Welterweight)

This is a show-stealer of a co-headliner. What we have here are two welterweight savages whose best form of defence is attack.

Ponzinibbio (29-5) is the more polished pugilist – a crisp kickboxer who generates power through technique. “The Argentine Dagger” has racked up 15 knockouts and six submissions, but he’s lost a step since returning from a three-year injury layoff in 2021, going 1-2. 

Still 14th in the rankings, he hopes to bounce back from a split decision loss to Geoff Neill in December and staying technical would serve him well.  

Pereira (27-11-2NC – 10 KOs and seven submissions) is a video game character come to life. He’s a massive welterweight and an absolute madman who throws all kinds of craziness at an opponent (watch below).

“Demolidor” immediately made a name for himself with those antics but too much hamming it up led to a few costly losses. To his credit, the Brazilian checked himself and toning it down whilst still being unpredictable and violently explosive has seen him string together four consecutive wins. 

Having found the formula for success, Pereira should systematically break Ponzinibbio down to win a decision or pick up a late TKO in a cracker.

Prediction: Pereira via decision.

Best Bet: Pereira at 1.80.

Alternative Bet: Pereira by decision at 2.80.

Chidi Njokuani (1.43) v Dusko Todorovic (2.80) (Middleweight)

Seizing the moment, Njokuani (21-7-1NC) announced himself to UFC fans with a 15-second knockout of Marc-Andre Barriault in his promotional debut in February. It was the former Bellator brawler’s third knockout in a row and 13th overall.

Todorovic (11-2), though, will have no qualms trading on the feet. The man from Montenegro has claimed all but one of his wins by stoppage, seven of those coming by knockout. He’s a high-volume striker, whereas “Bang Bang” has heavier hands.

In a fight destined to finish inside the distance, Njokuani’s power and massive six-inch reach advantage will prove decisive. 

Prediction: Njokuani via knockout. 

Best Bet: Njokuani by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.10.

Alternative Bet: Njokuani at 1.43.

Eryk Anders (2.60) v Park Jun-Yong (1.48) (Middleweight)

This middleweight meeting boils down to the genetics of Anders (14-5-1NC) and the skill of Jun-Yong (13-5). 

The former is a freak athlete who can finish a fight in a flash and has eight knockouts to his credit, while the latter’s more of a grinder. Both are looking to get back in the win column.

Anders is much bigger and stronger than “The Iron Turtle” with knockouts at light heavyweight. He should be able to keep the fight on the feet, where his dynamism makes him a great value underdog.

Prediction: Anders via knockout.

Best Bet: Anders at 2.60.

Alternative Bet: Anders by KO/TKO/DQ at 5.50.

Polyana Viana (2.05) v Tabatha Ricci (1.76) (Strawweight)

Balancing out the main card is this battle of Brazilian grapplers. Skill-wise, they are evenly matched. The stark difference, aside from Viana’s significant size advantage, is her killer instinct. All 12 of her wins are by finish, which is unheard of at strawweight. Eight are by submission, including the last two. 

Ricci (6-1) is fresh into her UFC career with her decision win over Maria Oliveira last October offsetting an unsuccessful debut. The only reason I can theorise why Ricci is the favourite is that Viana’s last fight – a first-round armbar win over Mallory Martin – was 15 months ago. 

Without the grappling advantage she usually relies on, Ricci faces a tall order as she’s proven to be very hittable, absorbing 6.52 significant strikes per minute compared to Viana’s 3.01.

At 5’5″, Viana will have a four-inch height and six-inch reach advantage over “Baby Shark” and has over twice as many fights, so she’s a lock, in my eyes. 

Prediction: Viana via TKO.

Best Bet: Viana at 2.05.

Alternative Bet: Viana by KO/TKO/DQ at 9.00.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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