This weekend’s UFC main event is a women’s bantamweight clash between Ketlen Vieira and former champion Miesha Tate.
Tate made a surprise return to the Octagon this year when she defeated Marion Reneau via third-round TKO in July. It was Tate’s first fight since UFC 205 in November 2016 and now she looks to climb the bantamweight rankings yet again in the hope of securing a rematch against dominant champion Amanda Nunes.
Ketlen Vieira is ranked one spot above Tate in the women’s bantamweight rankings at #7 and will be looking to keep that spot after her recent defeat to Yana Kunitskaya in February this year.
Vieira vs. Tate is the main event of UFC Fight Night 198 this Saturday night. Fight fans can watch every main card, prelim, and early preliminary fight on ESPN+.
Vieira vs. Tate betting odds
The betting odds for this main event bout have remained fairly stable since lines opened early in November. Right now, both Vieira and Tate are listed at -115.
- Vieira: -115
- Tate: –115
Vieira vs. Tate staff predictions
This is an interesting fight and I think the way in which fans perceive these two fighters are from very different lenses. It’s a hard comparison because Miesha Tate is obviously the more accomplished of the two, having won the belt but also stepped inside against some of the GOATs of women’s MMA, in fights that will last in the history books for sure. By comparison, it’s likely Vieira has not reached the height of her career yet but also she has most definitely had to navigate the division in a far evolved era of the sport. Tate, although coming back and looking great did fight an older opponent more akin to the landscape she left the UFC in half a decade ago.
In terms of looking at their skills, Tate most leans towards wrestling as her best attribute, with good submissions to enhance it into an overall effective MMA ground game. She’s disciplined and knows how to use the duration of the fight to her advantage whether that means patience or pace. In the striking range, she flurries forward which leaves her a bit wild and exposed at times but her big commitment to forward movement works in her favor because even if the strikes aren’t landing she ends up pushing her opponent to the cage or falling into a good takedown position.
However, while this worked against past opponents, Vieira specifically has a very good counter wrestling game, with judo hip tosses and trips often using her opponent’s momentum against them. Tate will have to worry about over-committing herself and being reversed, especially if she shoots in open space and not in close proximity to the cage. However, if she can take Vieira down, Vieira in the past has shown a weakness to being held in half guard and beat up with short elbows, so this route to victory may be Tate’s best bet if she can get through the counter takedowns.
On the feet, Vieira is smoother and faster I believe. She’s more comfortable mixing the whole skillset but does readily take a punch to land a punch because she knows she has power in her hands. The big question is what win’s out, this power or Tate’s relentlessness especially if that relentlessness leads to her securing a tight top position.
I think that Tate needs to use her experience to get the fight there, but there are so many obstacles in her way en route. She has to get past the smoother, more powerful striking against an opponent who has been more active. Then she has to set up and go back to the takedown multiple times because I don’t believe she will get the first shot on a fresh Vieira with great counter wrestling. On the mat, Tate may be superior but not by such a large margin that I would solely bet on that area of the fight.
Prediction: Ketlen Vieira to win
It’s #7 vs #8 and the winner of Vieira and Tate could be in line for a title shot against the GOAT, Amanda Nunes, with a dominant win Saturday night.
Vieira has a tried and true strategy that has helped her construct an 11-2 record and maintain her top 10 ranking. That strategy is simple: survive on the feet and land a takedown. Vieira has a negative, -1.18, strike differential and only lands her own significant strikes at a lowly 36% clip. While her game on the feet leaves much to be desired, her wrestling and ground game are impressive. Vieira averages 2.2 takedowns per fight at a nearly 50% success rate and stuffs 92% of attempts. Vieira will regularly pepper her strikes out, hitting mainly air, in order to make her opponent overcommit to an attack. From here, Vieira will shoot a takedown or push forward and get her opponent pinned on the cage. Once she gets her opponent’s back on the mat or fence, Vieira will look to hold her opponent down and rack up control time. Her ultimate goal is to exhaust her opponent with wrestling so they make a mistake on the mat. From here, Vieira can snatch up a submission. More often though, Vieira is content to hold position, do enough damage to prevent the ref from standing them up, and grind her way to a decision win.
Tate’s primary approach in the octagon is pressure. She prefers, and often is, the one to move forward. On the feet, she walks forward, strategically throwing shots intended to push her opponent back against the cage. Similar to Vieira, Tate wants her opponent on the back foot so they are more susceptible to being pressured. Once on the back foot, Tate is in her world: pressure grappling and dirty boxing. She averages 2.1 takedowns per fight but only successfully lands the takedown 32% of the time. Instead, more regularly, Tate is content keeping her opponent pinned against the cage, landing short punches, elbows, and knees, and dragging her opponent into deep waters. Despite her last fight being a TKO victory, Tate, too, prefers to maintain control rather than hunt the finish. She is skilled at laying heavily against or on her opponent, landing strategic shots, and racking up the control time en route to a decision win.
I see the two key x-factors in this fight being Tate’s pressure and Vieira’s willingness to remain in guard. I anticipate Tate being the one to move forward more often, pressuring Vieira. If the fight goes to the ground, Tate will likely work to stand up or flip positions; meanwhile, Vieira can sometimes be comfortable in guard, attempting submissions while her opponent tallies control time. I like Tate’s pressure to win her the fight; but, it will be close.
Prediction: Tate by decision