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LineStar® Weekly Knockout (UFC) -Fight Night Vieira vs. Holm

Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
We’re Back With Another LineStar Weekly Knockout!
Written by LineStar contributor, combat sports enthusiast, and practitioner, Chris Guy.
Instagram: @therealsethgeko & Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer

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Main Card
Ketlen Vieira (+160) vs Holly Holm (-225)
Vieira: DK: $7.1k | Holm: DK:$9.1k
In 2015, I told anybody who would listen that Holly Holm was going to KO Ronda Rousey.  I was like a stockbroker engaged in insider trading based on nonpublic information that Ronda Rousey was vastly overrated.
“I have two double-double’s, animal style fries, and a strawberry milkshake; is your order correct on the screen?”
“Uh, yea, it is, but did you know Holly Holm is going to knock Ronda Rousey the !@#$ out Saturday night?”  
“Nah, dude. Ronda is gonna break her arm in thirty seconds.  Your total is fifteen twenty-seven.  Please pull up to the first window.”
Nobody listened.  It boggled me that Holm was a (+700) underdog going into that fight.  So much so that I placed my first sports bet ever on Holly Holm to win, a Ulysses S. Grant, a Curtis Jackson on a Holy Holm second round TKO.  It’s not important how I spent that money, but what is, is that I had a valid medical recommendation from a back pain specialist.  
Holly was the first fighter who Ronda couldn’t bully with Judo throws and had the striking prowess to expose Ronda’s overrated standup.  It was a clinic that night, punctuated with a Shang T’sung head kick fatality that recorded Holly’s initials at the top of the high score screen.  
At that time, I looked at the long line of contenders with rolls of quarters in their hands eager to challenge Holm’s throne and thought she’d at least have a longer rein than Cersei.  What I didn’t predict was Holly Holm losing her ass groove on the Iron Throne in her first title defense against Meisha Tate and a subsequent three-fight losing streak.  It seemed Holm’s arch-enemy had finally caught up to her, fear.
I must not fear
Fear is the mind killer
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration
I will face my fear
I will permit it to pass over me and through me
And when it has gone past,
I will turn the inner eye to see its path
Where the fear has gone,
There will be nothing
Only I will remain
~Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
I’ve never seen a world-class fighter fight with more fear in her heart than Holly Holm.  There are two types of people in this world: People who step into a crosswalk, see a bus coming at them and jump out of the way, and people who step into a crosswalk, see a bus coming at them, freeze, and turn into a giant gnat stuck in its grill. Fear/nerves have dominated Holly throughout her career more than any other opponent, often causing her to be hesitant to engage for entire fights.  The result was losing close contests she was more than capable of winning. 
I say all that because I don’t think Holly Holm has reached her full potential as a mixed martial artist.  She possesses all the skills of a well-rounded world-class fighter—Women’s Hall of Fame Boxing with excellent karate-style kicks and underrated wrestling/grappling—but has never unleashed those skills at their full capacity.  Her boxing has become too left-hand-dominant while circling only to her left.  In her last bout against Irene Aldana, Aldana failed to capitalize on Holm’s unilateral movement by taking one step to her right to cut off the cage.  The key to fighting Holly Holm is overplaying her left hand like you’re guarding James Harden.
In recent years, Holm has leaned on her wrestling from the clinch as much as her stand-up; she won’t have that luxury against Ketlen Vieira.  Vieira is a big, strong Jiu-Jitsu specialist, and Holm’s path to victory will be controlling distance with side-kicks and short boxing blitzes on the feet.  Holly can make another run at the belt at 135 or 145, but she will have to unleash the full potential of her boxing.  Her hand combinations are repetitive two to three-punch alternating left/rights, but if she spent a week in the Thunderdome (the world-class training facility in my one-car garage), I’d have her looking like Vasyl Lomachenko and unbeatable.
There are two things I never thought I’d see: 1) Aleksandar Rakic blowing his ACL while up two rounds against Jan Blachowicz and subsequently extending the Weekly KO main event-losing streak.  2) Ketlen Vieira landing over one hundred significant strikes in a fight.  But in her last bout, Vieira did just that with a five-round decision win over Meisha Tate.  In her previous fight, Vieira landed seven total significant strikes over fifteen minutes.  Seven.  Not Seven as in Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, “What’s in the box!?” but seven as in five, six, and seven.  As in a touchdown and an extra point.
In her debut, Vieira scored four takedowns and only recorded thirteen significant strikes on her way to a decision win.  “Ketlen Vieira is a position over submission grappler” is the pound-for-pound defending, reigning champion of all understatements.  Her mentality from the top position is too much Jiu-Jitsu and not enough MMA.  If Ketlen Vieira ever learns how to flip the switch and incorporate some old school ground and pound into her grappling, she can reach a championship level.
But without takedowns and top control, Vieira struggles.  Her standup is rudimentary and stiff, complete with pushing punches and a lack of movement.   She does have sneaky power and sometimes looks the part of a decent striker, but don’t let that fool you.  She out-kickboxed Meisha Tate for twenty-five minutes in her last bout, but Tate is a wrestler not known for her stand-up.
The key for Vieira will be cutting off the cage and not chasing Holly around in circles and creating damage if she’s able to get Holly to the mat.  Ketlen is a big bantamweight and needs to use her size to grind down Holly on the mat to even the playing field when the fight is standing.
In eight career UFC bouts, Vieira has only finished one fight, and that came five fights ago.  She’s not killer, and she doesn’t crush a lot.  Not to be outdone, Holm hasn’t finished a fight in her last five bouts either.  This has decision written all over it, but if I had to pick a long shot finish, I’d pick Holm by TKO.  Vieira was KO’d in the first round against Irene Aldana in 2019, so Vieira can get got.
While I appeal last week’s main event loss to the athletic commission to be overturned to a no-contest, the losing streak sits at three.  This week isn’t any easier.  Holly Holm via decision.
Winner: Holly Holm | Method: Decision
Holly Holm
Holly Holm
Santiago Ponzinibio (+100) vs. Michel Pereira (-120)
The Ponz: DK: $8k | Pereira: DK: $8.2k
As it turns out, The Ponz didn’t jump the shark, and he’s fighting a certified, bonafide, electrified moon howler, Michel Pereira.  The forecast for this banger is partly cloudy, with a high chance of scattered meteor showers.  The first five rows in the arena will be roped off and labeled “Splash Zone.”  This is a matchup of two very different yet very dangerous power strikers that could easily headline its own Fight Night card.
Michel Pereira has come a long way from his humble beginnings as a Cirque Du Soleil performer inside the Octagon.  During his debut, Pereira came out swinging from the rafters doing backflips and cartwheels, only to gas out in the second round and lose a decision.  Since his debut, Pereira has reeled in the unnecessary antics out of necessity to preserve his gas tank late in fights.  But don’t worry, he’ll still execute backflip guard passes, Superman punches off the cage, and make flying knees appear out of nowhere like David Copperfield.
Pereira is long with a cape on, super long, and uses every inch to control range.  He can touch you from across the Octagon and has scary power, BUT (that’s a big but) he has January 1st cardio.  Michel has about seven to ten minutes of world-class, creative striking and grappling before the clock strikes midnight and his glass slippers turn into dog-chewed chanclas.  
This fight will be a tale of two halves.  Pereira will likely control the first half, while the second half will provide Santiago Ponzinibio with the opportunity to steal the fight.  As the fight wans, Pereira’s movement and ability to control range diminishes, and he becomes very hittable.  The Ponz may struggle early to close the distance and engage with combinations, but I expect that to change late in the fight.  Pereira is riding a four-fight winning streak, but his last three have all come by decision.  I think this fight could provide Pereira with an opportunity to get back on the finishing track with an early stoppage.  The Ponz is not long removed from a first-round KO loss to The Armpit, Li Jingliang.
The Ponz is a unique striker.  In addition to using his physical gifts to out-strike opponents, he uses geometry and angles to compress the cage and trap opponents.  Ring generalship is a judging criterion and refers to how a fighter controls the fight by controlling the opponent’s movements inside the cage by cutting it off and using the fence as a backstop.  You have to meet Ponzinibio head-on; you can’t retreat, or he’ll box you in with massive overhands and hooks that will eventually end your night.  But he’ll have to pressure Pereira cautiously.  Michel likes to bait opponents into pursuing him as he drifts back against the cage so he can use it to explode off with Superman punches and Showtime kicks.
The key for The Ponz will be to survive and advance.  He’s a notoriously slow starter, usually needing a jump-start on cold mornings, and Pereira is a notoriously fast starter and usually requires a speed governor to keep him from turning into a runaway big rig riding a downgrade.  Over time, The Ponz’s power and pace will wear on Pereira, who tends to fade late.  The Ponz should spend the first round attacking Pereira’s lead leg with kicks to slow down Pereira’s explosive movements.
Fantasy-wise, both fighters have the potential to score a finish; Michel Pereira early and The Ponz late.  Pereira is a classic one-punch striker who rarely uses combinations but has an identical significant strikes landed per minute average as The Ponz, just over four and a half.  The Ponz is a short combination striker and tends to overwhelm with volume as the fight progresses. I’ve gone back and forth on this all week. Ponzinibio will have to make up ground late, but he’ll be the guy with gas in the tank in the third round. Santiago Ponzinibio via decision.
Winner: Santiago Ponzinibio | Method: Decision
The Ponz
The Ponz
Chidi Njokuani (-245) vs. Dusko Todorovic (+190)
Njokuani: DK: $8.7k | Todorovic: DK: $7.5k
Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani took a Jeep commercial route, weaving through sprawling hills and monster truck rally terrains to make it to the UFC.  He’s the younger brother of Anthony Njokuani, who fought for the WEC and UFC, and both brothers are known for their explosive technical kickboxing.  Njokuani is a rarity in today’s UFC in that he has a full resume and extensive experience fighting UFC-caliber fighters before making his debut.  
Chidi has a career record of 21-7, and five of his losses came to former UFC fighters.  He has notable MMA wins over Melvin Guillard, Andre Fialho, Max Griffin, and Alan Jouban.  “Bang Bang” also has fought at the highest level of kickboxing, having faced the legends Raymond Daniels and Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling.   
Chidi’s striking can only be described as professional, collar shirt, tie, slacks, and a Double Windsor.  His reactions are honed to a razor-sharp edge, and his strikes are like Stevie Wonder playing poker; they have no tells.  They seem to materialize out of nowhere.  It’s like his jab starts at his chin and teleports to your face.  His level of experience speaks through his flawless technique, making it known he can stand and Bang Bang with anyone. 
This fight against Dusko Todorovic will be a big step for Chidi.  Todorovic not only has dangerous kickboxing, but he’s a sneaky good grappler with a strong top game and ground and pound.  When Chidi loses, he loses to fighters who can take him down and dominate him from the top.  Todorovic can do just that.  Six of Chidi’s career losses have by form of finish; he has only lost by decision once.  Njokuani will need to dominate range and defend takedowns against the cage.  One of Chidi’s specialties are knees from the clinch, but the problem with knees from the clinch against someone looking to take you down is they can catch your knees or level change under the Thai Plum.
Dusko Todorovic is a bit of a conundrum.  Although he has slick, savvy, unorthodox striking, he has a major flaw; his main means of defense is the pull, pulling straight back to avoid a strike.  Dusko pulls every time with his chin held high up in the air—higher than I am right meow—and returns his head right back to the center.  Double jabs and combinations are the antidotes to the pull defense.  Punahele Soriano slept Todorovic in the first round of their bout, after Soriano figured out to attack Todorovic with extended combinations.   
But offensively, Todorovic is a lot to handle.  He uses creative entries into the pocket, like switch-steps, and throws hands at odd angles.  Dusko is light on his feet and uses excellent lateral movement and short, quick combinations.  He also uses quick snapping lead leg kicks to set up his hands.
Todorovic has dangerous striking, but his takedowns and ability to pass guard from the top make him just as deadly on the mat.  Against Maki Pitolo, he cut right through Maki’s guard and used the crucifix from the half guard to mount and drop bombs.  Dusko can stand with Chidi, but his path to victory is clearly on the mat.
Dusko is coming in as the (+160) dog and will have a ton of value.  He will be an excellent middle/low tier option with a strong chance at scoring a finish on the mat.  Chidi is also a finishing threat on the feet with thirteen career TKO/KO’s.  These pick ‘ems have been brutal lately, complete toss-ups from top to bottom.  Chidi Njokuani via TKO, round two.
Winner: Chidi Njokuani | Method: TKO Rd.2
Chidi Bang Bang
Chidi Bang Bang
Polyana Viana (-105) vs. Tabatha Ricci (-115)
Viana: DK: $7.9k | Ricci: DK: $8.3k
Wrestling vs. Jiu-Jitsu.  Tabatha Ricci is a little Miley Cyrus wrecking ball wrestler, and Polyana Viana is an armbar Jiu-Jitsu specialist.  What makes this matchup intriguing is that for Tabatha Ricci to implement her strengths, she’ll have to play with fire like Johnny Storm.   Viana is most dangerous from her guard, which means she’ll also have to fight to Ricci’s strength with Ricci in control from the top postion.
Seven.  There’s that number again.  Polyana Viana has seven career armbar submissions on her record.  The ability to score guard submissions is important when facing a strong wrestler like Tabatha Ricci.  The threat often stifles offense from the top by making the fighter hesitant to pass or open up with strikes.
On the feet, Ricci is a wrestler striker with basic 1s and 1-2s boxing, and Viana is a highly vulnerable kickboxer.  Viana lacks power, and Ned Stark has more head movement than her.  The power advantage will favor Ricci, but Viana uses more weapons like kicks and knees.
Of course, this fight is another toss-up, figuratively and literally.  Ricci is the slight favorite at (-115), while Viana will also be negative money at (-105).  Can Ricci play in Viana’s guard for fifteen minutes and avoid being submitted?  That’s the question.  Interesting fact, all of Viana’s armbar submissions except for one have come in the first round.  Polyana Viana via armbar, round one.
Winner: Polyana Viana | Method: Armbar Rd.1
Polyana Viana
Polyana Viana
Eryk Anders (+180) vs Jun Yong Park (-220)
Anders: DK: $7.2k | Park: DK: $9k
“I like Tuttles…”  The “Iron Turtle” Jun Yong Park is back after clashing with Deebo in his last bout.  Jun Yong Park went full Craig, launching bricks to Brazilian Deebo’s face and had Deebo wobbly with Smokey circling nearby, waiting to spit his famous bars.  But it turned out to be the Friday director’s cut with an alternate ending.  Deebo rose from the canvas like Tyson Fury and proceeded to crack Craig’s ass like Amber Heard’s psyche.  
Jun Yong Park is slept on like a Tempur-Pedic.  Park has excellent boxing and uses his jab to initiate all his offense.  The Iron Turtle uses subtle slips and counters to remain in the pocket and deliver counters.  He likes to slip to his power side and counter with an uppercut.        
Park has underrated wrestling with heavy ground and pound.  Against Tafon Nchukwi, Park dominated on the feet and completely annihilated Nchukwi once the fight hit the mat.  His most underrated quality, though, is his heart.  Although Brazilian Deebo, Gregory Rodrigues, stopped Jun Yong Park in the second round with punches, Park never went down.  The ref waved off Park while he was still standing and yelling, “You’re gonna have to kill meeeeeeee!” like Ruth Langmore.
The game plan for Park against Eryk Anders should be to stand and bang early and wrestle late.  Anders’ game plan is etched in stone; wrestle.  Park will have a slight advantage on the feet because he is a better combination striker, but Anders will have the power advantage in his left hand.
Rooooll Tide!  Eryk Anders won an NCAA title with the Alabama Crimson Tide playing linebacker under Nick Saban.  He had excellent wrestling and crafty striking with sneaky power.  I speak of Anders in the past tense because I haven’t seen the athletic, aggressive Eryk Anders in a long time. 
Anders is a southpaw with a heavy left hand that can finish any fight, but his bread and butter is wrestling.  Anders is a symmetrical 6-6-1 in the UFC and is coming off a first-round submission loss to Andre Muniz.  As a (+180) dog, Anders will have a ton of value.  He can change the fight at any time with his left hand and can control long stretches with takedowns and top control to earn a decision.  To me, this is another toss-up.  But I don’t know how much Anders has left in the tank, and The Iron Turtle can be an undercover savage.  Jun Yong Park via TKO, round three.
Winner: Jun Yong Park | Method: TKO Rd.3
The Iron Turtle
The Iron Turtle
Prelims
Highlighted Matchup
Jailton Almeida (-650) vs Parker Porter (+460)
Almeida: DK: $9.4k | Porter: DK:$6.8k
Don’t say this guy’s name three times while looking in a mirror.  This guy could probably whoop his daddy’s ass by age ten.  Homie was telling his pappy to take out the trash and clean the dishes while wearing feety pajamas.  
“You gone have some chores.”
“Chores!”
“That’s right, chores.  This ain’t gonna be no free ride.  You gonna have to keep track of my matchbox cars.  You have to organize the damn Sega Genesis cartridges.  And I wan’t you to do my homework since you want to be such a smart ass.”
Jailton Almeida is a world-class grappler with a Brock Lesnar-like power double leg takedown.  Almeida can shoot a double leg from the parking lot, and you won’t know it until he’s on top and choking you.  Jailton beat an “ov” with two first names, Nasrudin Nasrudinov, on the Contenders series and is coming off a first-round TKO win over the Jiu-Jitsu specialist Danilo Marques in his debut.
Almeida starts every fight with a Michael Chandler snap kick and a double leg takedown, and even though you know it’s coming, you can’t stop it.  Can’t stop, won’t stop.  He’s a takedown assembly line, manufacturing a variety of methods to relocate the fight to the mat.  Almeida rag dolls grown men once he gets hold of them and is every man’s walking nightmare.  I’d rather get one-punch KO’d than have a guy holding me down and beating me.
Jailton will be moving up to heavyweight and fighting Parker Porter after his fight at light heavyweight fell through.  Porter is a huge man, and the question will be how Almeida will look at a size disadvantage.  I don’t know if Almeida’s usual explosive takedowns will be as effective against a much heavier fighter, but at any odds, I’m willing to drop an Andy Jack that they will.  
Parker Porter will be the more technical and traditional striker and is surprisingly agile for a man with a sumo wrestler’s physique.  He maintains good lateral movement while engaging with short combinations and heavy leg kicks.  This dude’s legs are the size of Super Bowl 50 Cent.  The game plan for Porter will be obvious; keep the feet standing.  Parker is far from a TLC scrub on the mat, but he’ll have an advantage on the feet should Almeida struggle to get the bigger man to the mat.  
Twelve of Almeida’s seventeen career fights have ended in the first round.  That’s always a cause for pause.  If the fight goes into the late second and third rounds, how effective will Alemeida’s takedowns be?  There’s some value in Parker surviving and advancing late in the fight, but he will have to strap on the gasoline boots to get it there.  Jailton Almeida via TKO, round two.
Winner: Jailton Almeida | Method: TKO Rd.2
"Pops" Jailton Almeida
"Pops" Jailton Almeida
IYKYK
IYKYK
Twenty-Twen-Twen Sleepers
Twenty-Ten-Twen Sleeper
I struck out looking last week, three straight pitches. I put my faith in Angela Hill and watched her implement a terrible game plan in which she fought to her opponent’s strengths. In Fact, my whole Pick ‘Em got out-grappled last week. That’s why you have to be careful when picking strikers over grapplers. The biggest advantage in this sport is deciding where the fight takes place.
At (+190), Dusko Todorovic will have that advantage if he doesn’t allow himself to get sucked into a kickboxing match. Todorovic has solid striking, and I’m sure he has confidence in it, but sometimes that pride can cloud your fight IQ. Chidi Njokuani’s weakness is operating from his guard against good wrestlers, and Todorovic’s top game is sneaky good. Clinch and takedowns. Rinse and repeat, Dusko.
If Nick Saban shows up in Eryk Anders’ corner, I’m betting the Thunderdome on him. It wasn’t too long ago that Anders was a dangerous up-and-comer with a deadly left hand and dominant wrestling. He has shown shades of his former self in recent fights (his first fight against Darren Stewart), and he has a path to victory against The Iron Turtle. Not only can Anders change the fight with his left hand, but he can also control it with takedowns and top control.
Check out Uros Medic at (+125) against Omar Morales. Morales is the better all-around fighter, but Medic is a dangerous striker who has finished all seven of his professional wins. He lost his debut to Jalin Turner, but the mile-long Turner is a matchup nightmare for almost every lightweight. Morales also has solid striking, but his game plan will be to test Medic’s ground game. If Medic can stay off the cage and dominate the center of the Octagon, forcing a predominant stand-up match, he’ll have the advantage.
Pick ‘Em
Joseph Holmes (-200) vs. Alen Amendovski (+170)
 
            Winner: Joseph Holmes
            Method: Decision
Omar Morales (-150) vs. Uros Medic (+125)
 
            Winner: Omar Morales
            Method: Decision
Jonathan Martinez (-230) vs. Vince Morales (+180)
    Winner: Jonathan Martinez
            Method: Decision
Chase Hooper (+145) vs. Philipe Corales (-185)
    Winner: Philipe Corales
            Method: Decision
Elise Reed (-170) vs. Sam Hughes (+140)
    Winner: Sam Hughes
            Method: Decision
Thanks for reading LineStar Weekly Knockout! We’ll be back next Thursday with another one. Until then, good luck and support your local MMA Gym.
About Me
My name is Chris Guy, and I’m an avid combat sports enthusiast and practitioner. I’ve been a fan of MMA since the early 2000s when Limewire was still around, and I downloaded Bas Rutten’s Big Book of Combat. In 2004, I started training Muay Thai at City Boxing in San Diego, CA. I competed as an amateur for many years, and I’ve also dabbled in Jiu-Jitsu. I follow many different disciplines, such as Combat Ji-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Glory Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA.
I’m equally as enthusiastic about the craft of writing, and in addition to writing about combat sports, I also write short fiction and music. I hope to bring unique prose to sports writing, and along the way, encourage people to not only become Martial Arts fans but to also become Martial Artists themselves. 
In the future, you may see me refer to the Thunderdome; it’s an ode to the old Mad Max movie and refers to the world-class training facility I built in my one-car garage. It’s complete with throw dummies, wrestling mats, heavy bags, and six months’ worth of Chef Boyardee cans from when I thought the world was going to end back in March. I hope you enjoy my work, and if you don’t, the Thunderdome has an open door policy. 
Check out my Podcast The Whiskey (S)ick Podcast on Apple and Spotify. Parental Advisory Warning
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Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert) @LineStarApp

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