Vieira (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) barely started her MMA career when the likes of Tate and Holm (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) were already fighting for UFC titles. She’s said watching those names – along with Ronda Rousey – was what caused her to believe greatness could be achieved for female fighters.
Now Vieira has worked herself to the point where her idols have become her rivals. Now she meets former champ Holm in a potential women’s bantamweight title eliminator, which goes down at the UFC Apex and streams on ESPN+, and Vieira will have to separate business from her emotions.
“I admire her a lot,” Vieira told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter at UFC Fight Night 206 media day. “I used to watch her fights before I knew I wanted to fight in UFC. I watched her fight against Ronda when she shocked the world, and for me it’s a dream come true to fight another former champ that I admire so much. I have a lot of faith for myself.”
Vieira, No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s bantamweight rankings, delivered in her first UFC main event opportunity with a unanimous decision win over Tate last November at UFC Fight Night 198.
To get a chance to follow up that performance with a win over No. 4 Holm has Vieira feeling like her career is firing on all cylinders.
“I always dreamed about being a main event in the UFC, and now I have the opportunity to do it again with another elite athlete,” Vieira said. “It’s a dream come true for me.”
If the 30-year-old Brazilian can get past “The Preacher’s Daughter” this weekend, Vieira will have a resume worthy of requesting a title shot. The championship rematch between Julianna Peña and Amanda Nunes is expected to take place this summer, and depending on how it unfolds, Vieira could get the next crack at gold.
Vieira refuses to put her focus on that possibility, though. Right now, her attention is entirely on Holm.
“I have to take it one step at a time,” Vieira said. “If I win against her I’m going to have to think about what’s next.”