Before we head into Thanksgiving weekend, we have one more UFC card Saturday. Former women’s bantamweight champion No. 8 Miesha Tate makes her second walk to the Octagon this year after making her comeback following a five-year layoff. Tagged as Tate 2.0, she looks to take another step closer to title contention, but in her way is a very motivated opponent, No. 7 Ketlen Vieira. Vieira looks to pump the brakes on Tate’s climb back to the title as the two cap off a 12-fight slate with solid matchups.
The prelims kick off at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the main card at 6 p.m. ET. The card will be aired in its entirety on ESPN+, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
You know the drill, let’s dive in.
DATE: Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021
VENUE: UFC APEX
LOCATION: Las Vegas
THE MAIN CARD:
Tate 2.0 draws Vieira, who ranks just one spot above the former champ. Tate is fresh off her July return, when she faced the retiring Marion Reneau, who gave a very honest effort, though ended up getting finished by Tate in the third round. This marked the first loss via finish in Reneau’s career. Tate impressed big-time and no doubt put the ring rust believers back in their seats. This should be a tougher test, but I believe Tate will stay the course on her way back to title contention. Vieira is big for the division and packs a punch, coupled with a BJJ black belt. She’s good for a takedown or two, but when it gets to the mat she seems to struggle with control or output. Her weight cut to 135 should pose some issues in this one as well against a fighter like Tate, especially with it being scheduled for the five rounds. SURE, Vieira is 11–2 as a pro with six wins by stoppage, but five of those stoppages came in the first five fights of her career, well before the UFC and against some lower-level opponents. Those opponents’ records? 0–0, 1–0, 0–1, 0–0, 0–0. Tate typically starts slow, feels out her opponent, then takes over the longer the fights go. We could see the fight fairly close out of the shoots, but I just have Tate taking control, especially into the championship rounds as Vieira’s gas tank diminishes.
Prediction: Miesha Tate
Bet: Tate +100
Great co-main event on deck here with Chiesa's taking on the up-and-coming prospect Sean Brady. Brady looks to secure the biggest win of his career while improving to 5–0 in UFC. Chiesa almost made it five straight last August but made a mistake and got caught in a brabo choke against the always-dangerous Vincente Luque. This is a big matchup for both, with lots at stake rankings-wise. Brady is the busier fighter on the feet but does tend to get into wars, absorbing damage to give his own. Chiesa will walk forward right into it, looking to pressure while landing inside. Brady will welcome the advance from Chiesa, as we’ve seen in the past when he has a tendency to walk backward back to the cage. This could put Chiesa into position to attempt some takedowns or clinch control. Brady will be game himself and his grappling ability will prove worthy in this one. He currently has a 100% takedown defense while landing his own in each of his four UFC fights, all resulting in control time that helped him win needed rounds. Chiesa will probably be the toughest test to date from that standpoint for Brady, which will make things interesting. As these two get into scrambles, one thing to consider is Chiesa has been susceptible to predicaments that lead to his getting stuck in chokes. That happens to be the submission method we’ve seen time after time from Brady, including his last two wins.
Prediction: Sean Brady
Mr. Perfect makes his return after a two-year layoff due to a broken orbital and other injuries sustained after his win over Liu Pingyuan back in 2019. He’s riding a three-fight win streak into this matchup against submission machine Rani Yahya, who looks to make it two straight to close out a perfect '21. It’s no secret what Yahya’s game plan will be, as he’ll welcome this fight to the mat any which way he can get it there. His striking accuracy is subpar, and he gets tagged more than he lands. Kang is solid on the feet but has a tendency to no-pull the trigger at a high volume while picking his spots. Yahya will close the distance and clinch, but Kang’s size and gas tank should cause Yahya some struggles. The pickle Kang will be in, though, is Yahya will welcome the takedown attempts from Kang, which is something Kang shoots for in every fight. Regardless of how this fight gets to the mat, if Yahya somehow can get into a favorable submission position against this guy, just chalk up the win by sub No. 22 for Yahya. This fight will most likely end with the submission by Yahya or Kang by decision. Both lines have good value.
Prediction: Rani Yahya
Joanne Calderwood marrying the head coach at Syndicate MMA, which resulted in her shaving a few letters off her last name, has caused more conversation than the fight itself, unfortunately. This should be a good one, and although Santos has somewhat of a padded record early in her career, she’s looked fantastic since joining the UFC four fights back. This will be a step up in competition for Santos, but the path to victory has been written if she’s done her homework and watched tape. In all six of Wood’s UFC defeats, she’s either given up takedowns and has been controlled on the mat, or has fallen into a submission while on the mat. All of Santos’s UFC wins have been courtesy of her groundwork. She’s successfully landed one or more takedowns in every UFC she’s had to date, and I believe the trend continues here. I could be wrong, but I see two fighters on different trajectories of their careers.
Prediction: Taila Santos
Bet: Taila Santos (look via DEC -140)
I will be highly surprised if this one makes the final bell. Two very violent fighters stepping into each other’s wheelhouses here. We will see some very aggressive stand-up from both here, and one of the two will get caught. Both have high volume and proven durability, as neither has been finished by strikes in their pro careers. I see this ending Saturday night. Yanez has tremendous ability to land fight enders. He’s knocked his opponent down and out in all four of his UFC fights, and against durable guys along the way. Although never being finished by strikes on his end, Grant has actually been knocked down in three of his last five fights and weathered the storm to get back to his feet. This is a big storm heading his way Saturday night.
Prediction: Adrian Yanez
Bet: Yanez (look via TKO/KO -105)
TUCKER LUTZ defeats PAT SABATINI
RAFA GARCÍA defeats NATAN LEVY
LOMA LOOKBOONME defeats LUPITA GODINEZ
TERRANCE MCKINNEY defeats FARES ZIAM
QILENG AORI defeats CODY DURDEN
SEAN SORIANO defeats SHAYILAN NUERDANBIEKE
LUANA PINHEIRO defeats SAM HUGHES
Taila Santos (look via DEC -140)
Yanez (look via TKO/KO -105)
Tucker Lutz +115
Qileng Aori +140
Add: Tate +223
2021 predictions: 264-161-8 (62%)
2021 wagers: 146-116-1 (56%)
Overall record on SI:
Predictions: 645-360-19 (64%)
Wagers: 356-203-9 (64%)
Good luck everyone and I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me @Y2Casey on the Twitter machine.
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