“Ketlen Vieira is definitely next, and I will be ready.”
Amanda Nunes’ words, moments after defeating Raquel Pennington in the main event of UFC 224 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 12, won’t be forgotten by Vieira. A month after hearing the UFC bantamweight queen say she was the next in line, Vieira now worries that Holly Holm might leapfrog her and get a title shot.
Holm bounced back to the winning column with a win over Megan Anderson in a featherweight bout at UFC 225, opening two possible paths for her: a rematch with Cris Cyborg for the 145-pound championship, or try to reclaim the bantamweight belt.
Moments after Holm’s recent win, Nunes tweeted the following message.
Upset with the possibility of losing a shot at the belt after going 4-0 under the UFC banner, including a win over Cat Zingano in March, a fired up Vieira opened up in an interview with MMA Fighting.
”My team and I worked really hard for this opportunity,” Vieira told MMA Fighting. “They want to put her and Holly, but we’ve worked hard to get there. If I’m the No. 2 in the ranking that’s because of my work, not because the UFC kept me there like they did with Holly Holm. I have a lot of respect for Holly Holm, she was the champion. I respect every fighter, but you can’t simply move up and down in weight and leapfrog me. The only girl she’s beaten recently at bantamweight is Bethe Correia, who I have a lot of respect for as well, but she’s the No. 10 in the ranking. (Holm) had two losses, beats Bethe and stays at No. 1? That’s illogical. (Nunes’ team) say she’s (next because she’s) the No. 1, but it’s easy to stay at No. 1 beating the No. 10 and the UFC keeping you there.
”Amanda Nunes said I would be next. I honor my word, I have character, my family taught me to honor my word. As a champion and an example for thousands and thousands of Brazilians, she should honor her word. If she had no interest in fighting me, she shouldn’t have said many, many times that I was next. I’m coming off a win over Cat Zingano, the only woman to beat her in the UFC. I wasn’t out there saying I was next, she said it, she said I deserved it because I was coming off a win over Cat Zingano.
”I’m coming off four wins in the UFC. Four. Four! It looks like Holly Holm’s record has chickenpox with all those red spots. The UFC is really trying to benefit her. She goes up and down in weight, does whatever she wants, and every time she fights is a title fight now? She fought (Germaine) de Randamie, she fought Cyborg, and now she wants to come back to 135? That’s not fair to me and other bantamweights. It’s disrespectful. Amanda has only defended her belt three times. There are good athletes in the division. That’s not cool. My team is with me, they believe I’m ready for a title fight. I’ve been evolving a lot in the grappling and striking area. I’m only 26. The longer it takes, I’m only getting better. I’m saying I deserve it because she said I would be next, and now Holly wins a fight and they want her because it will sell more pay-per-views? It’s not how it should be. We have to have honor and not think only about money.”
Vieira has beaten a pair of former title contenders in the Octagon, submitting Sara McMann and edging Zingano via decision, and thinks Nunes is only looking at Holm as a chance to make more money.
”Everybody sees that’s the reason,” Vieira said. “The last event they did in Brazil was the worst pay-per-view, so it’s clear that they want that. She wants that, or a superfight with Cris Cyborg, because that will sell pay-per-views. She doesn’t think about when she was the No. 2 and wanted to become champion. She’s killing everyone’s dreams, holding the division, fighting once a year. That’s not fair.”
”If you talk to someone who really understands about MMA, no doubt that I should be the No. 1 in the ranking,” she continued. “It’s funny that everyone goes down in the ranking, drops off, and they keep Holly there. She’s coming off a win over the No. 10 and stays at No. 1. Who has a longer winning streak at bantamweight than me? That’s unfair. The UFC ranking is unfair. I don’t know why they have a ranking if they don’t follow it.”
“Fenomeno” is willing to get back inside the Octagon whenever is better for the American Top Team star. If the UFC decides to go with Nunes-Holm instead, she will leave her future in her coaches’ hands.
”I’ve worked really hard to get here,” Vieira said. “What if an upset happens and I lose and have to work my way up again? That’s up to my team, if I’m fighting again or waiting. I see myself as the next contender because of what the champion said and all the opponents I’ve beaten. I want my chance, man. If it doesn’t happen now, I’ll leave it to my team to decide.”
Unbeaten in 10 professional fights with six stoppage victories, the Nova Uniao talent reiterates she respects everyone in the bantamweight division, but all the drama is starting to fuel a fire inside of her.
”That makes me hungrier because I feel fooled because she created this expectation by saying I would be next and I trusted her because I honor my word,” Vieira said. “If I say something, I’ll honor that. That made me upset, but even more motivated.”