Kelten Vieira is without a doubt one of the rising contenders in the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Division.
Undefeated since competing in the UFC’s 135 pound weight class, she’s been mostly eyeing a potential showdown with current reigning champion Amanda Nunes, yet knowing the booking of a superfight with Nunes and Cyborg from the UFC, will automatically halt her hopes.
With a bout against former Invicta FC Champion Tonya Evinger in the co-main event of UFC Sao Paulo on September 22 on the horizon, Vieira admitted she was a little frustrated that she has to have another fight before she can vie for the women’s 135 pound championship.
“Every fighter that joins the UFC dreams about getting into a title fight,” Vieira said during a media day in Brazil on Wednesday. “I think I’ve earned that fight. The UFC hasn’t given me that right, I’ve earned it with my team’s hard work. But I use that to give me more strength in this camp and put on a great fight at UFC Sao Paulo. It’s my first time fighting in Brazil (in the UFC), so it’s something to give me more motivation and work harder.”
While Vieira is aware and understanding of Nunes’ ambition to capture another belt and earning more money, she also believes on the other hand, that Nunes still has not yet cleaned out the division.
Since the UFC has plans to put the Nunes-Cyborg mega bout on the final card of 2018 on December 29, Vieira insists an interim bantamweight title bout between her and former champion Holly Holm should be a part of that event as well.
“With this fight I’ll earn, once for all, a title shot. There’s no one else,” Vieira said. “The only thing I see is an interim title fight with Holly Holm. One way or the other, winning this fight I see myself fighting for the belt. But we don’t want to think about that. We have to focus on Tonya, who is a very tough opponent.”
Despite certain opinions about the competition she’s faced in the UFC in recent years, Holly Holm has defeated some of the best female fighters in the UFC, (including former longtime reigning women’s bantamweight champion now UFC Hall of Famer, Ronda Rousey) in which the young Brazilian contender views Holm as much tougher matchup for her as opposed to the reigning champion Nunes.
“Every fight is a fight. We know that some styles don’t match, some styles do match,” Vieira said. “I see Holly as more complicated because she’s an athlete that doesn’t stop. She’s a southpaw, and you can’t make mistakes because she has a powerful kick, so I see Holly Holm as a bit tougher than Amanda.
“Amanda fights more flat-footed, we know her best attack is a straight punch she throws, but she doesn’t have a cardio as good as Holly Holm’s. (Holm) fights five rounds and has the same gas in the end, so I think Holly Holm is a tougher fight. Of course that Amanda is very tough, they both are, but I think Holly Holm is a bit tougher.”
Having an overall 10-0 record in MMA, in less than four years as a pro, Vieria confidently states further delaying her chance at the women’s 135 pound championship only benefits her more.
“I’m only 26 years old, I’m not even in my prime yet,” Vieira said. “I’ll be more prepared as time goes by.”
In spite of all the talk about the title that’s going around, Vieria focus will not be hindered from her forth coming September fight in Sao Paulo, and is in strong disagreement with those who say this fight with Evinger is worthless only because she isn’t ranked in the women’s UFC Bantamweight Division.
“She’s not in the top, but Tonya is a great fighter, was a champion in Invicta,” Vieira said. “We can’t evaluate her fight with Cris Cyborg because she fought in a higher weight class. If we look at her at bantamweight, where she had great wins, she has fought super experienced athletes, so she’s a dangerous and experienced fighter.”
“Nothing that I present in the fight will be new to her because she has fought with the best. It will be a huge test for me. People have a superficial image of athletes and it’s not quite like that. I can say she will be one of the toughest fights in my career.”