The co-main event of the evening features two top-ten women’s bantamweights and each coming into this fight looking to extend her respective winning streak to two. This fight was originally made for August 1st 2020, and then re-scheduled for one week later before being cancelled again, and re-booked for this Saturday.
Ketlen Vieira is 11-1 as a professional with her only loss coming by first-round knockout to Irene Aldana. She has finished six of her eleven wins, four by submission and two by knockout. Vieira is back in the “win” column following her victory over Sijara Eubanks this past September.
Kunitskaya is 3-1 in the UFC since her debut featherweight title fight loss to Chris Cyborg. The former Invicta Women’s Bantamweight champion is 13-5 as a professional with three career knockouts and one win by submission.
Yana does her best work in the clinch and is extremely strong for this division, even strong for featherweight, judging by her clinch grappling action against Cyborg. She has very good wrestling skills, keeps a wide base and cross-body head position and is always pummeling. She lands knees against the fence before working for over-under hip tosses. She has some submission skills but mostly looks to work to side control and land elbows.
She has very good control skills and can dictate the pace of fights for long periods of time. She is a decision fighter. Kunitskaya is much more technical than powerful as a striker, landing over five strikes per minute. She makes great use of her jab, lead hook and teep kicks with both legs.
Kunitskaya throws at a high volume, but only really throws two-strike combinations. She is constantly bobbing in and out, scoring points and looking for opportunities to rush forward into the clinch. Against tight boxers, she can get pieced up. She doesn’t have very good striking defense or avoidance and can sustain a lot of damage at times.
Though Yana usually controls most of the grappling exchanges in her fights, she did show a susceptibility to strong wrestlers when she allowed two of three takedowns and over four minutes of control time against Aspen Ladd. In that fight, Kunitskaya was able to control the clinch but was easily brought to the canvas by Ladd’s double-leg takedowns.
Ketlen Vieira is a more patient striker. She looks to control the center of the octagon and press her opponents back to the cage. She doesn’t throw at high volume, and is more effective catching her opponents moving forward and countering with her right hook or uppercut. She has great clinch skills and is very strong for the weight class. She has some beautiful judo throws and can do damage on the ground.
She’s patient on top, and uses her ground and pound to set up her transitions into dangerous positions. On her feet defensively, she does have a tendency to keep her guard down and take some damage to her chin, which is what cost Vieira her fight against Irene Aldana. She relies on her wrestling to neutralize her opponents when they move forward. Kunitskaya may be a challenge on the ground and in the clinch, but Vieira is a more technical and powerful grappler. She is also a better striker despite being less credentialed. She has better hand speed, better striking variety, distance management and is much more powerful.
Beyond anything else, I think Ketlen possesses a killer instinct and an intent to inflict damage that Kunitskaya doesn’t. Vieira is a much more aggressive fighter, which is exactly the kind of fighter Kunitskaya has struggled with in the past. Vieira is a safe parlay piece on the money line and is worth a value play to finish the fight at +310.