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“I started training because I love this sport,” said Vieira, who registered a unanimous decision win over Miesha Tate in November to move her record to 12-2 overall heading into Saturday’s clash with Holm. “I’ve been training since I was 12 years old, and today being at the level of these athletes makes me very happy and fulfilled.

“My second consecutive fight against a former champion. I had a dream of at least once in my life being a UFC main event; God is wonderful, and this is my second in a row.”

The bout with Tate was a critical turning point for the 30-year-old Brazilian, who was positioned as a potential title contender following a hard-fought victory over Cat Zingano at UFC 222 before missing 21 months of action due to a serious knee injury.

When she returned, Vieira ran into Irene Aldana, suffering the first loss of her career. After rebounding with a win over Sijara Eubanks, she kicked off her 2021 campaign by landing on the unhappy side of a split decision verdict against Yana Kunitskaya that many felt the judges got wrong, in a fight where she unfortunately missed weight.

Rather than lament the outcome and linger on his mistakes, Vieira pressed forward, signed on to face Tate in her second fight since returning to action, and stayed focused through a six-week delay when the fight was rescheduled.

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From the way she performed, you wouldn’t have known it was the first five-round fight of her career or the first time headlining a UFC event.


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