TNT Sports Reload - Episode 11Sep 26
We’re fast approaching the end of another memorable year of fights from inside the hallowed Octagon, but the events keep coming thick and fast on BT Sport.
This weekend is no different, as we bring you exclusive coverage of UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
The main event features Brazilian 135lb contender Ketlen Vieira looking to set herself up for an assault on the bantamweight throne with a statement win over former champion Miesha Tate.
Tate, who reversed her near four-year retirement with a win last time out, lifted the belt last in March 2016 but has ambitions to replicate the feat in what would be a legendary championship run.
On top of that, we’ve got action from the welterweight division as Michael Chiesa looks to end the year on a high following his first-round loss to Vicente Luque in the summer.
The 33-year-old Colorado contender takes on the undefeated Sean Brady, while you can also look forward to seeing Brits Joanne Calderwood and Davey Grant on the main card this weekend.
Here are four reasons you can’t miss UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate.
Tate looking to make it two on the bounce
Eyebrows were raised when Tate announced her decision to reverse a four-and-a-half-year retirement in order to return to MMA earlier in 2021.
The former bantamweight queen, who defeated Holly Holm to lift the 135lb strap back in 2016, believes she has unfinished business and wants to reclaim the belt from the incumbent champion, Amanda Nunes.
Loftier goals have been set – but it sure looks like a long road back to the top for the mother-of-two given how the sport has evolved in her lay-off from competition.
Regardless, she returned like a duck to water last time out, spoiling veteran Marion Reneau’s retirement party with a convincing third-round TKO that pocketed her first performance bonus since winning the title.
But on Saturday night, Tate faces an inarguable step up in competition in the form of Vieira – one that could well determine the fate of her quest to regain the belt.
Vieira is an experienced operator with a 5-2 record in the UFC that includes wins over the likes of Sara McMann, Cat Zingano and Sijara Eubanks.
The number-seven ranked contender dropped a controversial decision to Yana Kunitskaya last time out but the jiu-jitsu black belt is guaranteed to offer a stern examination of Tate’s championship credentials.
Chiesa, keeper of keys
A piece of savvy matchmaking here from the UFC brass has put perennial welterweight contender Chiesa on a collision course with rising star Brady.
Chiesa had aspirations of finishing the year with an eye on the top five before coming unstuck against the teak-tough Luque in August and now must ensure he doesn’t slide to consecutive defeats when he welcomes the unbeaten Brady to the Octagon.
Writing on Instagram after that defeat to Luque at UFC 265, Chiesa explained: “Physically I was in the best shape of my life, mentally I was battling myself every single day. I put too much pressure on myself this fight and I cracked.
I put too much pressure on myself and I cracked
- Michael Chiesa
“Historically throughout my career, every time I have faced adversity and came up short, I’ve turned around and grown tremendously. A couple more wins and I’ll be back in the mix.”
It followed hot on the heels of a convincing five-round decision win over Neil Magny that led some to believe Chiesa could possess the grappling ability to trouble 170lb king Kamaru Usman.
But the former Ultimate Fighter winner now faces a different challenge in the young, hungry upstart looking to take the biggest scalp of his career yet.
That Brady has been matched against a man of Chiesa’s pedigree so early in his UFC journey says a lot about what those in the promotion believe of his ability.
The 28-year-old Philadelphia fighter is a talent on the mat and has two straight submissions – including a bonus-winning performance against Christian Aguilera – in his last two fights.
Will Brady rise to the occasion on the biggest night of his career?
All systems go for JoJo
The newly-married Joanne Calderwood, now known as Joanne Wood, was on the brink of title contention last year before accepting a dangerous eliminator against Lauren Murphy for a shot at the flyweight strap.
But the long-time Scottish contender came up agonisingly short as Murphy edged a split decision at UFC 263, forcing Wood to take the scenic route back up to the top.
That journey begins once more on Saturday night as she looks to avoid consecutive losses for only the second time in her career when she takes on Brazil’s Talia Santos, a replacement for the unavailable Alexa Grasso.
“She’s definitely got a padded record,” Wood said of Santos in an interview this week.
“I feel like only since she got on the show [Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil], she’s fought girls with better records, more experience.
“I know she’s tough, I know she’s gruelling. She just fought my team-mate, Roxanne [Modafferi], so I’m guessing it going to be pretty much the same fight.”
Wood knows she only needs to put together a run of one or two wins in order to get right back in the title mix; the last two fighters she has lost to have both gone on to fight for the belt in their next bout.
Davey Grant, born entertainer
Veteran bantamweight operator Grant opens up the main card on Saturday night – and if his last three performances are anything to go by, you won’t want to miss it!
The Darlington fighter has now pocketed three straight bonuses on his 2-1 run and emerged from a thrilling war with future title hopeful Marlon Vera with his reputation enhanced.
And the 35-year-old will need to be firing on all cylinders once again as he takes on rising star Adrian Yanez, who comes into the bout on a three-fight knockout streak since joining the UFC from Dana White’s Contender Series.
“He’s one of those guys who’s going to come forward and try to stay in your face the whole entire time,” Yanez told MMASucka.
“I feel the match-up is a really great one for me, because he’s going to help me set up a knockout. He’s going to give me the knockout, pretty much.”
Can Grant rediscover winning form at the first time of asking - or will the young lion make his mark on an aging rival?