Ketlen Vieira looks to have gotten a gift from the judges.
Holly Holm looked to continue her path to getting a shot at becoming a two-time women's bantamweight champion on Saturday as she took on Ketlen Vieira from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. She'd won back-to-back fights coming in, and a win would have put her in a position to challenge the winner of the bantamweight title rematch between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes at UFC 277 on July 30.
When the fight ended, Holm had done more than enough to win as she controlled the action and landed more significant and total strikes by a wide margin. Yet, when the judges read the scores, they felt Vieira's harder shots were enough to give her the upset win by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47). DAZN scored the fight 49-46 for Holm.
According to stats provided by the UFC, Holm connected on 183/295 total strikes compared to 104/178 for Vieira. In terms of significant strikes, Holm was 112/219 while Vieira was 63/136. Despite what the statistics say, what matters is how the judges viewed the fight. For Vieira (13-2), that's back-to-back wins over former 135-pound champions in Holm and Miesha Tate. Now, the Brazilian wants a crack at the winner of Pena-Nunes 2.
“Listen everybody — I’m the next champion in the bantamweight division,” Vieira said in her post-fight interview. “I’m next. I’m ready. I’m here.”
Holm (14-6) was visibly upset when the scorecards were read as she felt what happened in the fight warranted a decision in her favor and getting another crack at UFC gold.
“I thought I won the fight,” Holm said. “I gave her round two, and I felt I won all the rest of the rounds. I really felt like I won the fight. I didn’t feel it was a question. I wanted obviously to be more active from the clinch. I was still able to control her in those areas.
“I feel like I won the fight, so I kind of have to figure out what’s going to happen now.”
Here is what happened at Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira.
Ketlen Vieira gets surprise decision over Holly Holm
A right by Vieira catches Holm's attention to begin the final round. A spinning elbow from Vieira. She has the momentum. She needs to keep the foot on the pedal. They battle in the clinch. Vieira is giving everything she has so she doesn't end up back against the cage. A counter right from Vieira. Holm gets Vieira back against the cage and inside the clinch. But Vieira is able to push off. Two front kicks in a row by Holm. A leg kick by Holm. Two right hands by Holm but Vieira lands a right uppercut of her own.
Holm attempts a double leg takedown but switches to a single. It gets Vieira back to the cage, and Holm works the clinch. Vieira escapes. A sidekick from Holm. A body kick from Holm, who again presses Vieira to the cage. Vieira is exhausted. Six consecutive punches by Holm. What a showing by Holm. (10-9, 49-46 Holm)
A left connects for Vieira. A right from Vieira. A body shot from Holm but Vieira counters with a combination. Front kick by Holm. Sidekick by Holm. Two rights by Vieira. A left hook by Vieira. Combination by Vieira. A kick drops Vieira and Holm fires off a body kick on her way up. Vieira with a right. An uppercut by Vieira which gives Holm an opening to rush back to the cage. Vieira quickly reverses. Vieira lands a right that snaps Holm's head back. A right sends Holm back. A counter left by Vieira. A push kick by Holm. A left by Holm. Combination by Holm. A three-punch combination to end the round. Another close round. Hard to score. (10-9 Holm, 39-37 Holm)
An exchange of leg kicks to start the third. Holm rushes in and gets Vieira again to the back of the cage and inside the clinch. Three knees to the leg by Holm. Leg kick by Holm followed by a sidekick. A combination from Holm. Head kick blocked by Vieira. Straight right by Vieira. Holm with a body shot and pushes Vieira right back to the cage and in the clinch. Stiff knees by Vieira. Three short punches by Holm. Sharp elbow by Vieira as she escapes from the clinch. A short right stuns Holm. But the former champion gathers herself, gets right back in the clinch, and lands a knee to the midsection to close the round. (10-9 Holm, 29-28 Holm)
Holm begins the second with a couple of more leg kicks. Holm tries a kick, and Vieira is quicker to the draw with a snapping right hand. That leaves an opening as Vieira secures a critical takedown. Vieira peppers a series of right hands, but Holm makes it back to her feet. Holm goes for a double leg takedown and drags Vieira to the back of the cage. That almost cost her as Vieira sunk in a deep choke. She is grimacing every which way and on the verge of tapping out, Holm somehow reverses out and escapes and gets clinch position.
A sharp elbow from Holm to get some momentum going into the third round. (10-9 Vieira, 19-19)
Pereira def. Ponzinibbio by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).
What a battle! Pereira won the first round, Ponzinibbio won the third round. It depends on how you view the second. It was a back-and-forth battle. Each guy pressed the issue, but overall, Pereira landed the harder shots, which brings him his fifth consecutive win.
Both guys leave bloodied, battered, and bruised, but it's the Brazilian who moves on to a significant fight in what is a talent-rich welterweight division.
The co-main event of Holm vs. Vieira has No. 14-ranked Santiago Ponzinibbio (29-5) taking on Michel Pereira (27-11, two no-contests) in welterweight action. Ponzinibbio has won three in a row and Pereira is on a four-fight winning streak. Whose winning streak is going to be snapped?
"Bang Bang" with a "knockout of the year" candidate
Njokuani def. Todorovic via knockout at 4:48 of the first round.
In the clinch, Njokuani takes a slight step back and unloads a short elbow to KO Todorovic at the point of the impact. As soon as Todorovic landed, Njokuani strutted right back to his corner knowing what he had just done.
Couldn't ask for a better start to your UFC career.
Welcome to DAZN's live coverage of UFC Fight Night headlined by Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira. It should be an exciting night of MMA action, so stay locked in right here as we have you covered for the latest UFC card.