This past Saturday, Holly Holm made her return to fighting against Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 55.
Coming back to the cage after a two-year hiatus, Holm had vocalized her intentions to get a title shot going into the bout. Meanwhile, Vieira was looking to grab another win after beating Miesha Tate last November.
In a close-fought contest that saw Holm use an interesting game plan, Vieira came out on top by a split decision. While Holm believed she had done enough to win the contest, Vieira begged to differ.
During the post-fight press conference at UFC Fight Night 206, Ketlen Vieira spoke about her headlining match with Holly Holm. She believes Holm did not want to fight and came in to “neutralize”.
“I think she was doing more of an ‘antigame,’ we use that term for soccer”
“That’s what she was doing, she was basically trying to neutralize me. She was just pressing me against the cage but nothing was happening, she just wanted me to stop fighting and I think that the judges actually saw that”
“I felt pretty good about that and I thought that she actually was doing a light tap. I saw the ref come in close and when I looked over to see him coming close that’s when I think she took the opportunity because I looked away from what was going on and she escaped me.”
Ketlen Vieira talks about her coach’s fiery pep talk
During the course of the fight, it was hard to assume who would be ahead on the scorecards. Holm seemed to focus her efforts on rushing in and clinching with Vieira. She would repeatedly walk her to the fence in an attempt to land strikes at close range.
It was not hard to believe that Vieira might be losing out as the fight progressed. In between rounds, Vieira’s coach Andre Pederneiras was visibly charged up and expressed his frustrations with her performance. He even went as far as to tell Vieira that she was down three rounds to one going into the final round of the contest.
“Not just in the fights, but also in the gym, he’s always like, ‘You’re losing, you’re losing’”
“‘Listen, she’s got this, you’re trailing it.’ And yes, it’s something that he uses to propel us to actually win and to find more, to actually go for a fight, to look for a fight, to look for a win. So it’s something that works and he knows he needs to actually use that kind of approach.”
Vieira believes her coach’s motivational tactics work for her. Given the outcome of her latest outing, it’s hard to disagree. Vieira will be looking to work up the ranks and get a shot at the title after Amanda Nunes rematches Julianna Pena.