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Last Updated May 24, 2022, 17:23 PM

UFC Vegas 55 Picks, Predictions, Odds

UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Vieira (also known as UFC Vegas 55) is the next upcoming mixed martial arts event on the UFCs schedule. The event is scheduled to take place on May 21, 2022, at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

A women’s bantamweight bout between former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm and rising divisional prospect Ketlen Vieira is expected to serve as the main event. Meanwhile just before that middleweight fighters Santiago Ponzinibbio and Michel Pereira lock horns in a three-round co-main event. 

The UFC Vegas 55 fight card consists of 11 fights in total with five of them making out the main card and the preceding six playing serving as prelims. In the featured preliminary bout newly-signed and self-proclaimed ‘Khabib Nurmagomedov of the 205-pound division’ makes his second octagon walk under the UFC mantle as he moves up in weight to take on streaking Parker Porter.

Holly Holm has not lost a round in her last two fights. (Getty)

Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira Picks

Former champion Holly Holm is still known for her vicious dethroning of Ronda Rousey back in 2015. Despite losing her title to Miesha Tate in her subsequent bout Holly has never shied away from fighting the very best. In her 12 UFC bouts Holly’s five losses consist of Amanda Nunes, Cris Cyborg, Valentina Shevchenko, Germaine de Randamie and Miesha Tate. That’s what I call a murderer’s row.

Outside of fighting GOATs or champions, Holm is winning easily. After losing three in a row she takes a step down in competition to face Bethe Correia in 2017 and knocks her out within three rounds. When Holly fought Megan Anderson she won all rounds handily, and it was the same story against Pennington and Irene Aldana. There just seems to be a difference in level when Holly steps in there and fights these ‘average’ contenders. To my recollection, she hasn’t lost a round in a non-title fight outside of her bout against Valentina Shevchenko who went on to become the killer that she is today - one of the best ever.

In this fight against Ketlen Vieira, a fighter whose true strengths seem to vary from fight to fight, I think Holly is the rightful betting favorite. Vieira has been getting good results, and started off her UFC tenure with a four-fight win streak. However she hasn’t adapted to the increasing level of competition, and box score-wise she has been outstruck in seven of her eight UFC bouts despite winning six. That’s not exactly a sign of consistency. You don’t make it at the highest level with a -1.0 striking differential, you just don’t.

Grappling-wise she’s so-so, averaging just under two takedowns every minute, but she just doesn’t do anything with her top control. In her debut she gets off eight minutes of control time and still almost loses a split decision. It’s the same story against Cat Zingano - Ketlen controls 10 minutes of the fight yet barely manages to win on the cards. She just doesn’t work.

In a slow-paced fight which I think this will be, I think Holly dusts her. We’ve seen that Holly is contempt with playing the wall-and-stall game with opponents if they let her, and Vieira throws very little volume (barely landing three punches a minute).  

The layoff is a bit concerning for Holly here as we last saw her in the octagon in 2020, however given the fact that she seems to be levels ahead of these run of the mill contenders I think she still has what it takes to beat Vieira and make another run at that title before retiring.

To Win Fight: Holly Holm (-250) | Total Rounds: Over 4.5 (-275)

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Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Michel Pereira Picks

Michel Pereira seemed like he was the new kid on the black after winning his debut with a first-round flying-knee knockout over Danny Roberts back in 2019. After that fight he ran into two consecutive losses, gassing out badly against Tristan Connelly and being disqualified against Diego Sanchez due to an illegal knee. 

It seems like Pereira actually tightened up his craft after that losing streak and has now won four straight heading into this weekend’s bout with Ponzinibbio. 

On the feet Michel is a good fundamentally sound striker and he has really improved in the wrestling department too. 

Realistically, we are looking at a fighter who could easily have won that fight against Diego Sanchez. If Sanchez didn’t milk that knee as much as he did, Pereira would continue dominating the action and win easily. Against Connelly, he was goofing around and completely blew out his gas tank doing flips and cage jumps in the first round. In another universe he stays composed and wins easily. 

Santiago is the veteran in this matchup with 14 UFC fights to Pereira’s seven. Prior to his two-year hiatus from 2018-2021 he was on an absolute tear through the division, and was seen as a guy who would go on to challenge for the title at some point. In his comeback fight he was KO’ed against ‘The Leech’ though, and while I was led to believe he was completely shot judging from that performance, the vintage ‘Ponzi’ showed up in his next bout and had an absolute war with Miguel Baeza (who was unbeaten at the time) winning a decision. The worries I had concerning his chin seemed irrelevant in that fight, as did they in his most recent time out against Geoff Neal.

Pereira is the younger man here, but I believe cage control will win this fight, and Michel has been pushed back by good strikers before. Short-notice debutant Andre Fialho was able to win that first round against Pereira by pushing forward and taking the center, and I ultimately feel that Ponzinibbio will be able to do the same.

Once the fight gets dicey I think Santiago’s veteran experience will allow him to negate the power of Pereira and come out on top as he usually does in these scrappy fights.

To Win Fight: Santiago Ponzinibbio (+100) | Total Rounds: Over 2.5 (-188)

Chidi Njokuani vs. Dusko Todorovic Picks

Striker versus striker.

Njokuani made waves throughout the middleweight division when he flattened Marc-Andre Barriault in under 20 seconds in his debut. Now he’s back to show he is more than a one-hit wonder.

Dusko was viewed as a prospect too at one point however back to back losses in 2021 derailed the hype train of the 27-year old Serbian. The thing with Dusko is his striking defense isn’t all that good. He does his best work offensively, however when he’s retreating he opts not to cover his chin and leaves his hands dangling by his waist. That tendency seems like a recipe for disaster against a rangy sniper-like fighter like Chidi with that 80-inch reach.

Dusko runs into trouble when he gets pressured, and I have little doubt that Njokuani will be able to take the center and pressure immediately in this fight. Dusko may have his moments but at the end of the day I have little faith in his striking defense, and Njokuani has the longest reach out of any opponent Todorovic has ever faced, while also carrying extreme one-punch KO power.

Dusko is young though, and these young guys tend to surprise us from time to time. Sometimes I have a habit of putting guys in boxes based on recent form, when their trajectories turn out much different in reality. In this instance, I just haven’t seen the improvements made from Dusko to warrant him as a potential bet. He’s too raw, whereas Chidi is more experienced and mature in the octagon.

To Win Fight: Chidi Njokuani (+100) | Total Rounds: Under 1.5 (+110)

Polyana Viana vs. Tabatha Ricci Picks

Two grapplers face off at 115 pounds.

Comparing the box scores of both fighters it’s clear that Polyana Viana is the more talented fighter. She has Ricci beat in pretty much all statistical categories, except for offensive wrestling, and she has a size advantage too. 

The thing is, I think there’s more to this fight than meets the eye. 

First of all it’s important to note that while I introduced both fighters as grapplers, they grapple in very different ways. Viana is a great opportunist who allows herself to be taken down if it means she can find a submission on the ground. She is a submission-oriented grappler.

Ricci is more of a classic grappler with a wrestling-heavy approach and little focus on the jiu-jitsu aspect of ground fighting. In her last fight alone she showed just how effective she can be in going for takedowns and successfully chain wrestling for 15 minutes. 

So who wins?

It’s obvious that on the feet Viana’s six inch reach advantage will allow her to land that jab from a far and possibly out-volume Ricci. However, if Ricci can pressure and get Viana on the fence she can, and will, get takedowns in this fight. 

On the ground Viana will be dangerous, but I honestly think Ricci is potent enough as a wrestler to just stay safe in top control and win minutes here. Viana also has a 100% finish rate, and while that may seem impressive at first glance, the fact that she has yet to win a decision as a professional is worrisome. That’s one of the clearest signs of poor composure I’ve seen, historically. If you can’t win a fight late-game you’re not going to get far in the UFC. The level of opposition you face means you will run into a brick wall at some point, and if you can’t win without a finish that’s bad.

Ricci’s wrestling makes her the clear minute-winner in this fight for me. In my mind Ricci just needs to get this fight to go the full 15 and she gets her hand raised. 

The submission skills of Viana makes this a close one, but I think the more level headed wrestler gets the job done with consistency.

To Win Fight: Tabatha Ricci (-125) | Total Rounds: Over 2.5 (-175)

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