The UFC Fight Night 198 went down Saturday night in Las Vegas, and while the event was a bit of a dud, it opened the door to a number of interesting matchup options.
The card was headlined by a women’s bantamweight bout between rising contender Ketlen Vieira and the division’s former champ Miesha Tate, who was looking to make it two in a row after emerging from retirement earlier this year. Vieira spoiled Tate’s plans with a solid unanimous-decision win, setting herself up for more big challenges at 135 pounds.
In the co-main event, unbeaten welterweight Sean Brady moved to 15-0 with a decision win over Michael Chiesa. Brady is now a legitimate title contender, while Chiesa is suddenly on a two-fight skid at 170 pounds, having also recently lost to Vicente Luque.
Elsewhere on the card, we saw big wins from a number of rising stars, including Brazilian flyweight Taila Santos, Mexican strawweight Lupita Godinez and Chinese featherweight Shayilan Nuerdanbieke, all of whom can expect compelling fight offers in the near future.
Keep reading for our five talking points as Tate’s comeback hits a snag:
- Ketlen Vieira’s missing piece
We don’t want to start the day by ragging on Ketlen Vieira. Brendan Fitzgerald and Daniel Cormier did enough of that on commentary during the broadcast of the main event.
If we have to be critical, though, it would be fair to say that there’s just a piece of the puzzle missing when it comes to Vieira (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and her intrigue as a UFC women’s bantamweight contender, even after a solid main event win over a former champion in Miesha Tate, who she beat by unanimous decision. There are wide range of betting features on bet365 – more information about bet365 can be found at our partner site, GoBet.
There aren’t a ton of holes to be poked in Vieira’s performance. She picked Tate apart on the feet and badly bloodied her face, showed some solid takedown defense and didn’t reveal cardio issues in her first five-round fight inside the octagon. There are a lot of positive boxes to be ticked from that, but still, it feels like she needs more if she really wants to break through.
Perhaps this is merely of a product of Vieira’s humble demeanor and inability to speak English that is stopping her from fully connecting to the audience. She’s also lost some key fights in some key moments that delayed her trajectory to a title shot at 135 pounds.
It’s obvious that Vieira is talented. Beating Tate should not elevate her into a championship fight, but one or two more wins could do the trick. Hopefully in that time she does something that will further endear her to the fanbase, because right now any title fight involving Vieira is going to struggle badly to gain traction.
- Miesha Tate’s comeback hits a snag
Credit to Miesha Tate for trying to push things to the limit during this second MMA run. This is all icing on the (cup)cake after she spent five years in retirement and was thought by many to never be seen again in a competitive setting again.
To come back and beat Marion Reneau, who was 44 years old and fighter her retirement bout, was one thing. Getting past Vieira was a much steeper task, and Tate (19-8 MMA, 6-5 UFC) was unable to get it done.
She at least tried, though. Tate could’ve easily attempted to pick and choose easier matchups during this comeback stint, but that’s never been her approach. She wants to fight for and win that UFC women’s bantamweight title she held back in 2016, but this fight signified her ambitions as too lofty.
Tate did not get blown out of the water by any means against Vieira. She made it competitive over the course of five rounds, but her skillset doesn’t have that next gear needed to get a definitive upper hand on this next generation of talent.
That doesn’t mean Tate should slither back into retirement. There’s still money to be made and sellable fights to be had for her. And in fact, the thin nature of her division makes it impossible to state with 100 percent conviction that she has no chance of stringing together the right set of victories to get a title shot (though a rematch with Amanda Nunes might go worse than the first).
Tate is largely beloved within the sport so it’s easy to understand why people were rooting for her to climb the mountain again. Her desire to deliver on that is admirable, too. The game changed quite a bit during her absence, though, and Vieira offered a reality check to Tate about how difficult her goals will be to achieve.
- Sean Brady earns his stripes
Anyone who has been listening to the right people know Sean Brady has had hype around him for some time. Against Michael Chiesa, he showed why that talk wasn’t misplaced.
No, Brady (15-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) didn’t get a blowout performance or score a statement finish, but he showed strong skills against an opponent in Chiesa who has shared the octagon with the very best. Brady, in fact, became the first person to beat Chiesa on the scorecards, which is a feat to be respected when placed in the right context.
How good is Brady, though? He claims he’s the best grappler in the division, which is a hell of a statement when champion Kamaru Usman and former title challenger Colby Covington, among others, are competing at 170 pounds.
But you can’t hate on Brady’s confidence, and inside the cage, no one has proven him wrong. So go on, young fella.
It’s a tall mountain to climb at this weight class, but Brady earned his stripes against Chiesa. He must now be taken seriously, and it’ll be fascinating to see who the UFC matchmakers pit him against next after beating an opponent in Chiesa who was in the title discussion just two fights ago.
- Taila Santos arrives as a contender
Taila Santos looked solid in her wins leading up to fighting Joanne Wood. However, she managed to turn a corner with her performance in what was the biggest fight of her career and deliver a dominant first-round submission win.
Given the grappling prowess Santos (19-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) showed in her previous UFC fights, the fact she won with a submission isn’t surprising. It’s what happened leading up to the finish, though, that turned heads. Santos knocked down Wood on two occasions, showing the striking background she’s managed to keep under wraps to this point.
There’s no more hiding for Santos at this point. She’s won 19 of her 20 career fights and is leveling up as the fights get harder. That’s the sign of a serious contender, which are desperately needed in the women’s flyweight division.
Does Santos have what it takes to give dominant titleholder Valentina Shevchenko a test? It’s hard to even go there and truly believe it. It’s much fairer to state that’s she’s at least more interesting than a number of Shevchenko’s recent challengers, especially if Santos can pick up another impressive win.
- Adrian Yanez shows his layers
First of all, that 30-27 scorecard for Davey Grant against Adrian Yanez was goofy as hell. Second of all, putting that nonsense aside, it was nice to see Yanez have to go to the scorecards for the first time in the UFC and show a little more in this fight.
Thus far, Yanez’s (15-3 MMA, 4-0 UFC) UFC run has been a festival of highlight reel knockouts. It’s been fun to watch, but there’s always a question of how someone like that responds when he can’t put an opponent away. That’s clearly what the matchmakers had in mind with these odds, because Grant came in without a stoppage loss due to strikes. He also left that way.
Yanez, as a result of that, had to show patience, persistence and intelligence to fight the full 15 minutes against a tough opponent. He did that to get the win, and it’s enjoyable to watch the progression of this bantamweight prospect.
The division is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent, and Yanez fits into the next wave. Now we’ll see how big of a jump he gets in terms of competition.