Frustrated Ketlen Vieira Believes She is More ‘Deserving’ of a UFC Title Fight Than Kayla Harrison

'Fenômeno' is annoyed by the "privileges" that Harrison is being afforded after one fight inside the Octagon

Ketlen Vieira
Courtesy of @UFCNews on X

Ketlen Vieira is frustrated.

Sitting as the No. 2 ranked contender in the women’s bantamweight division, Vieira was on her way to a potential UFC title opportunity this year — then Kayla Harrison showed up.

Making her promotional debut at UFC 300, Harrison dismantled ex-titleholder Holly Holm, submitting ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ in the second round with a rear-naked choke. The win immediately thrust the two-time Olympic gold medalist into the title picture, much to the chagrin of Vieira who believes that her 8-3 record in the Octagon is more deserving of a championship opportunity than Harrison’s 1-0 record. 

“I’ve been accepting for so long and now a girl who just got here wants to have some privileges,” Vieira said in an interview with AG Fight. “It can’t be like that, you know? There are other people who deserve it. UFC is MMA. It can’t be counted… It only matters in Judo. Where she’s an Olympic champion. I respect that. I think she’s an excellent athlete, but I don’t see her as deserving in MMA as I am. She just left an event after running away from Larissa [Pacheco] and Cris Cyborg. She talks a lot and runs away. 

“She wants the fights that are convenient for her. So I don’t see her as deserving. ‘Oh, she wants to fight for the title’? The order of the events doesn’t matter to me. It could be Julianna Pena first. It could be her later. I don’t care. I want the fight that’s going to get me the belt.”

The UFC Needs a Star in the Women’s Bantamweight Division — And Ketlen Vieira Isn’t It

While Ketlen Vieira certainly has a point, you can’t overlook the fact that Kayla Harrison stepped into the Octagon for the first time sporting a 16-1 record, including two wins over one of the women Vieira is accusing her of ducking. Whether ‘Fenômeno’ likes it or not, Harrison’s production in the PFL plays a role in how fast she moves up the ranks under the UFC banner. 

And let’s not forget that the UFC is in the business of making money. To do that, the promotion needs stars — something the women’s bantamweight division is sorely lacking after the exit of two-division titleholder Amanda Nunes last year. As it stands, the biggest names in the weight class are Julianna Pena and a couple of washed-out former champions in Holly Holm and Miesha Tate. 

Whether or not Vieira likes it, Kayla Harrison is a star and in today’s UFC, star power is more important than any win/loss record. 

Take a look back at Harrison’s impressive UFC debut below:

Published on April 19, 2024 at 10:23 am
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