RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Ketlen Vieira wants to be the female version of teammate Jose Aldo, and her coach believes she is the future of the bantamweight division.
Vieira finished Sara McMann in her most recent Octagon appearance in September, improving to 3-0 under the UFC banner, and is now set to take on Cat Zingano at UFC 222 in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 3.
Vieira originally announced a fight with Germaine de Randamie at UFC Belem on Feb. 3, but de Randamie recently told MMA Fighting she was never offered the fight. With Zingano set as Vieira’s next target, her coach Andre Pederneiras compared both opponents.
“Cat Zingano is more complete than Germaine, in my opinion,” Pederneiras said, “but with less fire power standing, better wrestling, both to take down and defend, and with a good ground game on top, but no big deal from the bottom.
“I see Ketlen going up (in her career), and Cat Zingano going down. Nothing that I say might influence on fight night, but this is my opinion looking outside in, three months before the fight.”
Zingano will make her return to competition for the first time since a unanimous decision defeat to Julianna Pena in July 2016, and Pederneiras believes this is the opportunity to prove Vieira is the one to win another UFC title for Nova Uniao.
Vieira’s countrywoman Amanda Nunes currently holds the 135-pound belt, successfully defending it against Ronda Rousey and Valentina Shevchenko.
“I think Ketlen will be in great condition in the fight, and will be ready for whoever athlete shows up in front of her,” Pederneiras said. “In my opinion, Ketlen is the next UFC champion.”