UFC Las Vegas 55 preview: Holm-Vieira

May 18, 2022 08:14 PM

A highlight from last week’s UFC 274 was Davey Grant’s impressive knockout of Louis Smolka to complete the parlay of Andrade -170 to Grant -290, which returned + 1.14 units. That parlay win pushed 2022 Insight the Octagon profitability to 9-5 + 4.39 units.

UFC Las Vegas 55 this week features another 11-fight card. Note that the event will kick off at 1 p.m. PT so prepare accordingly.

Holly Holm (-210) vs. Ketlen Vieira (+ 180)

Women’s bantamweight (135 pounds) | Main Event

Vieira is ranked fifth in the division with a 2-2 record in UFC. Her victories were against Sijara Eubanks and most recently Miesha Tate with losses to Irene Aldana and Yana Kunitskaya. The loss to Kunitskaya is vexing, and it’s also important to note the women who have defeated Vieira were as tall or taller than her. Vieira being ranked fifth in this division is evidence of its lack of talent after the top two or three athletes.

Vieira, 30, is clumsy when trying to compete standing up in the octagon, though she has a black belt in Judo. It’s the grinding, groping, clasping, clinch game and an eventual trip to the mat that is a must for Vieira to find an advantage in any matchup. She’s tall, long, a black belt in BJJ and will sell out in order to get this fight to the floor.

Holm, 40, has a world-class kickboxing background supplemented by a blue belt in BJJ and some wrestling chops. The second-ranked bantamweight behind Amanda Nunes, Holm will have substantial physical advantages in the cage despite being 10 years older than Vieira.

Holm’s template to success in this bout revolves around maintaining distance from the incoming Vieira in order to drub her with precision kicks, knees, elbows and fists. Movement and high-volume striking are Holm strengths, so it will be interesting to see how Vieira plans to gain access to Holm.

Vieira has had four UFC bouts to Holm’s 12. Holm has been in the octagon with and defeated world-class-caliber opponents. Holm is a substantial step up for Vieira, and one I believe is coming too quickly based on Vieira's competition.

Holm’s experience will translate into deft movement coupled with volume striking, and it will be up to Vieira to negate that distance and force Holm into a fight she does not want.

It’s my take that Vieira will benefit greatly from this bout, but Holm will put on a striking clinic against a willing and game athlete who’s just not ready for this level of opponent.

Play: Holm -210

Total in this fight: Unpublished as of Tuesday afternoon

Fight goes to decision: -225

Michel Pereira (-120) vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio (+ 100)

Welterweight (170 pounds) | co-Main Event

We go from the woman’s bantamweight division, which is basically three fighters deep, to the men’s welterweight division, where anyone in the top 15 can beat anyone in the top five.

In this South American barnburner, we have the Ponzinibbio, from Argentina, who three years ago was the hottest fighter in the division. Injuries, COVID-19 and some unfortunate luck have impeded his ascent up the ranks of the division. But a victory in this co-main event Saturday will certainly cement Ponzi’s place among the elite in the division as well as ensure that his dream to compete for the title lives.

Ponzinibbio, 35, is still forceful with his striking and uses various spinning techniques with heels, knees and elbows. A black belt in BJJ, Ponzi is comfortable rolling on the mat but prefers to “put on a show” and stand up against opponents.

Across the cage from Ponzinibbio stands a wild Brazilian. Pereira is huge for the division, and he’s slightly larger than Ponzinibbio, which is not normal for Ponzi.

Where Ponzinibbio can be judicious and paced with the output of his striking, Pereira can be reckless with the flamboyance of his capoeira striking. Pereira’s maniacal use of energy inside the cage has cost him against opponents who have been able to weather his early storm and take him deeper into the fight. However, in recent bouts, Pereira has shown the ability to think and follow a plan. This is a dangerous development for any upcoming opponent.

This has the potential to be the fight of the year because these two proud South Americans are going to want to back the other up by unleashing powerful strikes from all angles in order to inflict damage.

Heel kicks, flying knees, spinning elbows and hammer fists will all be on display as soon as they ring the opening bell.

I break this fight down to Ponzinibbio’s ability to navigate himself into the third round, then unleash damage on an opponent who may be sapped of cardio.

If Pereira can harness his mental and physical energy into a focused and controlled 15 minutes of effective fighting and defeat Ponzinibbio, he’ll vault himself into the top 12 of a division stacked with elite talent. I believe Pereira is set to do exactly that.

Play: Pereira -120

Total in this fight: Unpublished as of Tuesday afternoon

Fight goes to decision: -150

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