UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Vieira takes place this coming Saturday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira
It’s been over a year-and-a-half since Holm last fought in the Octagon due to injuries and illness, and she’ll now hope to quickly return to the form that saw her pick up back-to-back wins prior to her layoff as she prepares to take on Vieira, who beat Miesha Tate last time out.
Holm is now 40-years-old, and that, coupled with her time on the sidelines would normally be a cause for concern, but she’s always been naturally athletic and possesses excellent cardio, so I suspect that it won’t be an issue. Holm has a decorated background in professional boxing and is also a talented kickboxer, though despite that ability she has a tendency to favor operating on the outside, utilizing lots of movement and darting into combinations of punches and kicks that fall short of their intended target. She’s always active though and her work rate does tend to play well with the judges, even if it’s not always particularly effective.
Vieira isn’t much of a threat on the feet and is much more of a threat on the mat, so she’ll be doing her best to clinch up and find ways to get the fight there, where her submission ability could be a big factor as Holm’s not comfortable off her back.
I think Vieira will have difficulty with that game-plan though given Holm’s fast footwork and distance management, which is likely to limit her takedown opportunities, enabling Holm to keep up her cardio-kickboxing routine over the course of five rounds to get the decision win.
Pick: Holly Holm wins by decision.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Michel Pereira
Before being plagued with health issues that kept him out for a couple of years, Ponzinibbio had been on a strong 7-fight unbeaten stretch, but since returning he’s found the going tougher, losing two out of three fights, while on the other hand Pereira is in fine form with four wins in a row.
The 35-year-old Ponzinibbio certainly has seen a bit out of sorts at times since his comeback, but he still has a lot of ability, possessing very good boxing and piecing together his strikes well in combinations while also keeping up a good pace.
The 28-year-old Pereira has shown signs of attempting to reign in some of his wilder fighting instincts recently. He initially made a name for himself as one of the most eye-catching strikers on the roster due to his penchant for capoeira-style acrobatic offense, throwing all kinds of techniques that more often than not didn’t land, but when they did they did deliver some impressive highlight-reel finishes. However, it often felt like he was just randomly choosing one strike, then resetting and choosing another, so it seemed rather disjoined and also burned through his energy reserves too quickly.
Now it appears Pereira is seeking to build a more cohesive and less reckless offensive strategy, but time will tell whether he can stick to it effectively and in the mean time he does still like time and space to operate, which is something Ponzinibbio won’t afford him and I think his crisper, more fluid boxing and solid pace over three rounds will help him win the striking exchanges and emerge with a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio wins by decision.
Chidi Njokuani vs. Dusko Todorovic
After a dream debut that saw him KO Marc-Andre Barriult in 16 seconds, Njokuani now fights Todorovic, whose hasn’t quite being able to maintain the unbeaten 9-0 start to his MMA career since joining the UFC, going 2-2 so far.
‘Bang Bang’ Njokuani’s knockout finish wasn’t a bolt out of the blue as he has shown the ability to do that while fighting for the likes of Bellator and LFA, with his use of all aspects of muay thai together with his speed and power being a potent combination, aided in this fight by the fact he’ll have a 2″ height and 6″ reach advantage.
Todorovic is a good boxer and he carries notable punching power and will look to push the pace, but he is quite hittable and has been no stranger to getting rocked as a result, which is concerning given Njokuani’s striking prowess and superior reach.
That being said, Todorovic is the more well-rounded of the two and could well find success if he gets the fight to the mat. However, I feel these two will look to stand and trade early and that will favor Njokuani as Todorovic leaves his chin exposed too often and will suffer the consequences via a first round KO loss.
Pick: Chidi Njokuani wins by KO in Rd1.
Polyana Viana vs. Tabatha Ricci
After a troubling three fight losing streak, Viana has got back on track with a couple of armbar submission wins, while Ricci suffered a TKO loss her UFC debut, but now has a decision win under her belt.
Viana holds a big size advantage here, being 4″ taller with 5″ extra in reach over Ricci, but she’s not really the best of taking full advantage of that as she doesn’t really commit to her punches. Ricci will be more willing to press forward on the feet, but really her attacks are just a way to close the distance and set up takedown attempts as like Viana she is at her best on the mat.
Of the two Viana has more submission wins to her name, but she can be a bit too willing to accept being on her back, and I think that could be an issue here as Ricci has a black belt in BJJ and with her wrestling I think she’ll be the one that’s able to get the fight to the mat and then enjoy enough control time on top to win by decision.
Pick: Tabatha Ricci wins by decision.
Eryk Anders vs. Jun Yong Park
After two wins, two losses and a no-contest from his past five fights, Anders now fights Park, who was on a three-fight winning streak prior to his KO loss against Gregory Rodrigues last time out.
A strong, athletic fighter with good power in his punches, it feels like Anders hasn’t lived up to his full potential yet, being too willing to operate at a somewhat plodding pace and not effectively putting together combinations as often as you’d hope. He can also wrestle though and perhaps he doesn’t utilize the grappling aspect of his game as often as he should.
Meanwhile, is a good striker who doesn’t carry the same kind of power of physicality as Anders, but can be effective with more of a volume-based approach. He will also look to use his wrestling too and has had some success in that regard, though he has come off second-best at times.
Overall I feel that as long as Park doesn’t get drawn into a slug-fest that could see him outgunned then his higher offensive output on the feet and being more willing to utilize his wrestling will help guide him a decision victory.
Pick: Jun Yong Park wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Joseph Holmes vs. Alen Amedovski
Jailton Almeida vs. Parker Porter
Omar Morales vs. Uros Medic
Jonathan Martinez vs. Vince Morales
Chase Hooper vs. Felipe Colares
Elise Reed vs. Sam Hughes