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Holly Holm Looks to Build Her Legacy in UFC Fight Night Main Event

The Weekly Takedown previews Holm's bout vs. Ketlen Vieira and reveals exclusive news on the Polaris 20 main event.

Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s in-depth look at MMA. Every week, this column offers insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.

Holly Holm’s goal extends far beyond this Saturday’s bout against Ketlen Vieira.

“I want to be the one who does what’s never been before,” Holm said. “I wanted to win world titles in boxing and MMA, and I was able to do that. Women in this sport haven’t been able to fight into their 40s and win titles. But that’s what I want to do.”

Now 40, and approaching her 20th professional fight, Holm is motivated to win and regain the bantamweight title. She won that belt courtesy of a stunning victory against Ronda Rousey in 2015 but dropped it in her very first defense against Miesha Tate. In order to reach the lofty territory of becoming a two-time champ, Holm must defeat Vieira this Saturday.

“She’s is young and hungry, but I’m hungry, too,” Holm (14-5) said. “I know I’ve been around the sport for a while now, but I’m still hungry and I’m still motivated. She is a very tough opponent, and I’m aware of that. I’m training hard and I’m ready.”

Holly Holm faces Ketlen Vieira in the main event of Saturday's UFC Fight Night. 

Holly Holm faces Ketlen Vieira in the main event of Saturday's UFC Fight Night. 

Amanda Nunes made quick work of Holm in their title bout three years ago, finishing her in the first round. But in her two fights since then, Holm has defeated Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana, both by unanimous decision. If she can add a convincing win against Vieira (12-2), then she should be the next in line for whoever emerges from the Nunes-Julianna Peña title rematch.

“I don’t mind earning my shot,” Holm said. “Ketlen is right there, as well, so it’s so important for me to go out and perform.”

Holm looked outstanding in those last two fights, giving credence to the notion that she is just now entering her prime.

“I don’t feel 40, I don’t feel old,” Holm said. “I feel stronger and healthier. Looking back [to the fights against Rousey and Tate], I was so green back then. Not that I didn’t train for the ground, but my ability on the ground wasn’t where it is right now. Even being in the clinch back then, I didn’t want opponents to shoot. Sometimes I was so worried about being taken down that I respected my opponents’ space too much. I’m a completely different fighter now. I’m unpredictable.”

Holm is on the cusp of making history. Again. But first, she needs to take care of business against Vieira.

“This isn’t one fight on Saturday,” Holm said. “I want my legacy to have a big purpose. And I’m building my legacy.”

Demian Maia-Benson Henderson grappling bout will take place on June 25

Benson Henderson.

Benson Henderson.

Demian Maia and Benson Henderson have agreed to compete against one another in a grappling bout, Sports Illustrated has learned.

The two MMA staples will meet in the main event of Polaris 20 on June 25 in Newport, Wales. Available to watch on the UFC Fight Pass, Polaris 20 is also the first event of Galactic Fight League’s multi-year deal with Polaris Pro Grappling.

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The grappling bouts are structured differently than fights in the UFC. Maia-Henderson will be a 20-minute contest, with judges breaking down the scoring into three different periods, and the bout will run without interruption. It is a 175-pound catchweight fight, and it marks the first-ever meeting between the two incredibly talented mixed martial artists.

Demian Maia.

Demian Maia.

Maia, 44, is one of the greatest grapplers to ever grace the sport. He defeated Alex Oliveira last month in a grappling bout, finishing the fight with a triangle choke. He last fought for the UFC last year in June, losing to Belal Muhammad. Prior to that, Maia (28-11) suffered a defeat against Gilbert Burns in March of 2020. But the longtime MMA star is looking to build momentum from this fight to show there is still great value whenever he competes.

The 38-year-old Henderson currently fights for Bellator. A veteran of the sport with more than a decade-and-a-half worth of experience, Henderson (29-11) is still an elite talent. He is scheduled to fight in the main event of Bellator’s card against Peter Queally in Dublin this September.

Henderson has taken quite a few grappling matches, most recently defeating Ben Saunders in December. One of the more endearing parts of Bellator is that fighters can acquire their own sponsors and take fights outside of the promotion, which is what Henderson–a former UFC lightweight champion–will do here.

This will be a tremendous spotlight for Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and it should generate real interest in the card for Polaris.

The Pick ‘Em Section:

UFC Fight Night main event: Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira

Pick: Holly Holm

UFC Fight Night welterweight bout: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Michael Pereira

Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio

UFC Fight Night women’s strawweight bout: Polyana Viana vs. Tabatha Ricci

Pick: Polyana Viana

Eagle FC 47 main event: Junior dos Santos vs. Yorgan De Castro

Pick: Junior dos Santos

Eagle FC 47 light heavyweight bout: Héctor Lombard vs. Thiago Silva

Pick: Thiago Silva

Last week: 4-1

2022 record: 62-27

More MMA Coverage:

Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.