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Ketlen Vieira feels Holly Holm tried to ‘neutralize’ as opposed to win, says she felt ‘light tap’ during submission struggle

Ketlen Vieira sees a major difference in how she approached the UFC Vegas 55 main event compared to Holly Holm.

While Vieira felt that her offensive efforts were worthy of the split decision win that she claimed on Saturday, she believes the judges’ call was also affected by what Holm didn’t do.

“I think she was doing more of an ‘antigame,’ we use that term for soccer,” Vieira said via a Portuguese translator at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “That’s what she was doing, she was basically trying to neutralize me. She was just pressing me against the cage but nothing was happening, she just wanted me to stop fighting and I think that the judges actually saw that.”

Much of Holm’s strategy was predicated on clinching with Vieira and walking her to the fence, where she looked to land strikes in close. The exchanges in the center of the octagon were more even, with Vieira focusing on finding the timing to land hard punches. Holm is no stranger to winning decisions as she had lost just two in 19 pro bouts heading into Saturday’s card.

In between rounds, Vieira’s coach Andre Pederneiras could be heard on the broadcast expressing his frustration over his fighter’s performance — going as far as to tell her she was down three rounds to one heading into Round 5 — but Vieira said that she welcomes Pederneiras’ motivational tactics.

“Not just in the fights, but also in the gym, he’s always like, ‘You’re losing, you’re losing,’” Vieira said. “‘Listen, she’s got this, you’re trailing it.’ And yes, it’s something that he uses to propel us to actually win and to find more, to actually go for a fight, to look for a fight, to look for a win. So it’s something that works and he knows he needs to actually use that kind of approach.”

There’s no questioning that Vieira had the most notable offensive maneuver of the fight as she threatened to put Holm away with a standing rear-naked choke in the second round. Vieira had the hold in tight and Holm’s face turned a shade of pink before she was able to escape the dangerous predicament.

Vieira explained that her inability to finish the submission was not only because of Holm’s defense, but that she thought for a moment that Holm had tapped out.

“I felt pretty good about that and I thought that she actually was doing a light tap,” Vieira said. “I saw the ref come in close and when I looked over to see him coming close that’s when I think she took the opportunity because I looked away from what was going on and she escaped me.

“But God’s plans, they can’t be denied.”