Miesha Tate entered the Octagon in the main event of Saturday night's UFC Fight Night looking to pick up her second win since ending a near five-year retirement this past July. Unfortunately for Tate, her opponent, Ketlen Vieira, did not arrive in Las Vegas to play opponent. Vieira picked up a hard-fought unanimous decision in the women's bantamweight main event from the UFC Apex.
Vieira came out throwing heavy strikes early in the opening round, though Tate was able to survive the flurries and even land some solid right hands of her own. While Tate is the woman who entered with the more notable wrestling game, Vieira shot for a takedown late in the round, drawing condemnation from her coaches between rounds.
With Vieira being told to focus on her boxing, she opened the second round tagging Tate with some heavy punches that forced the former women's bantamweight champion to step back and recalibrate her attack. Tate continued to land the occasional right hand, but it was Vieira landing cleaner and far more often, even mixing in stinging calf kicks as Tate began to worry about the power punches coming at her head.
While Vieira continued to land solidly when she threw strikes, the Brazilian appeared to take her foot off the gas pedal as the fight wore on, allowing Tate to start pressing forward. With the ability to pressure, Tate was able to start wearing on Vieira with takedown attempts and grinding attacks in the clinch.
Both women entered the final round uncertain of where the fight sat on the scorecards and fought at a furious pace, exchanging heavy punches that left Tate's face swollen and bloody. Even with the fight almost certainly slipping away from her, Tate continued to try to push forward and make something positive happen.
Tate's grit and effort weren't enough to save her from a loss on the scorecards, however, as the official cards read 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 after the conclusion of five rounds.
The win was a big one for Vieira, beating a big name and rebounding from a disappointing February defeat to Yana Kunitskaya in which Vieira's failure to keep up early pressure came back to bite her on the scorecards, something that nearly developed in the middle rounds against Tate.
Of that rough patch where Tate briefly was able to take control, Vieira said, "I was very hesitant. Miesha Tate is a world champion and one of the best in the world. I did not want to be taken down and I was really confident in the last two rounds. ... I wish I felt in the whole fight like I felt in the last two rounds."
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Vieira is now second in the women's bantamweight division in wins since 2016, having had her hand raised six times, just one less than dominant champion Amanda Nunes.
Tate, for her part, showed little indication that she was considering heading back into retirement despite the setback.
"I had fun. That's the number one priority, have fun," Tate said after the loss. "I thought it was really close. I wasn't sure. I thought it was close and there was a possibility she won. I did my best and she was the better woman tonight. My hat is off to her."