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UFC 215's Ketlen Vieira confident but level-headed ahead of 'golden opportunity' vs. Sara McMann


Ketlen Vieira has only had two UFC bouts to date, but they looked impressive enough to earn her one high-profile matchup.

As she prepares to meet former title challenger Sara McMann (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) at this Saturday’s UFC 215, the 26-year-old Vieira has every reason to be happy with her current status. She’s undefeated. She’s come a long way but still sees progress ahead. She’s had the proper time and conditions to prepare for the dangerous McMann.

“(McMann) is very experienced,” Vieira told MMAjunkie in her native Portuguese. “But I’m very confident. I’ve been training hard, and I’m very satisfied with my results thus far. I’ve been able to evolve with each fight, and I plan on keeping that going.”

There’s no doubt that Vieira carries some self-assurance into the women’s bantamweight bout at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In fact, she’s had that attitude since even before the back-to-back octagon wins over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Kelly Faszholz.

But, at the same time, Vieira won’t let her confidence turn into bravado – at least not now, faced with her biggest challenge to date.

In addition to carrying an Olympic silver medal, McMann remains one of the biggest names on the UFC’s women’s 135-pound roster. In fact, her only career losses have come to people who’ve held UFC belts: Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate and current champ Amanda Nunes.

Considering that she and her Nova Uniao team reviewed McMann’s fights multiple times, Vieira is well aware of all of that. She knows that McMann can strike, grapple and, of course, wrestle. Which is precisely why her training has been so focused and relentless.

“It’s going to be a very tough fight, but I see it as a golden opportunity for myself,” Vieira said. “I have to take this fight with Sara and give it my all, give it my best. I have all the will to win. I don’t know if I’m going to come out victorious – this, only God can tell. But everything I can do inside the octagon to come out victorious, I will.”

Currently ranked No. 9 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, McMann has been making her case for another stab at bantamweight gold since a first-round submission win over Gina Mazany this past February pushed her current winning streak to three fights.

If she beats No. 15 Vieira, that may very well be in the horizon for her. As for the Brazilian up-and-comer’s future should she be the one walking away victorious? Well, let’s just say her short UFC run has taught her to keep her requests modest.

“After – and if – I get past this fight, I’ll think about the next step,” Vieira said. “I have two UFC fights and, for these two fights, I asked for opponents. The UFC didn’t give me any of them. They always put people against whom they want.

“So I won’t call anyone out because it’s not effective. Whomever they choose, I just hope they give me enough time so I can get ready and be prepared.”

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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