She’s all of 5-foot-5 and 115 pounds, but she’ll knock you out in a heartbeat. She enters Saturday’s UFC 251 as by far the biggest favorite on the main card. Who is she? Meet Amanda Ribas, who comes in with a 9-1 MMA record and will take on Paige VanZant in a flyweight fight on Saturday. If you want to catch a glimpse of her Saturday, get there early because it could be over quickly.
UFC 251: Ribas vs. VanZant
Amanda Ribas won’t be sneaking up on anyone any longer. She has caught the attention of UFC fans and her opponents by winning two of her first three MMA fights in 42 seconds or less. Ribas hasn’t lost a fight since 2015 when she was knocked out by Polyana Viana for the Jungle Fight Strawweight Championship. She made her UFC debut against Emily Whitmire in June of 2019 and won by rear-naked choke submission in Round 2.
The happy-go-lucky Ribas, who has won her last four fights, is rolling. She will be taking on Paige VanZant in UFC 251 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. Ribas and VanZant were scheduled to face off against each other in March at UFC Fight Night but VanZant was forced to withdraw due to a fractured arm. Ribas, instead, faced Randa Markos and won in a unanimous decision.
VanZant enters with an 8-4 mark. She has lost two out of her last three fights and will be fighting for a new contract against Ribas. “I want to prove myself,” VanZant told ESPN. “I want to prove how good I am and I know how hard I’ve worked. So, no, the pressure isn’t higher, and I do truly feel my value doesn’t change, whether I win or lose. I still have set myself up for success, and I will still forever be Paige VanZant, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go out there and fight to die. This fight matters more to me than any fight in my entire life. I’m willing to put it all out there.”
Ribas welcomes the attention
Now that she’s making a name for herself in the UFC, Amanda Ribas is getting quite a bit of attention. She said she welcomes it and doesn’t feel any added pressure. “It’s very welcome for me,” she said at UFC 251 Media Day. “It’s awesome because in the UFC there is a lot of fighters and when they say this about my name – about Amanda Ribas – it’s wonderful for me.”
Ribas knows a victory over Paige VanZant, a big name in women’s UFC, would certainly be a big boost for her career. “Before (this fight), I fought against Mackenzie Dern, another big name, so I’m fighting with great girls, big names and not just in MMA, but in all of sports,” Ribas said. “I think I can be a big name, too.”
Of all the fighters on the UFC 251 main card, Ribas is clearly the most significant favorite. According to mmamania.com, Ribas enters as a -900 favorite over VanZant. For those non-bettors, one would have to wager $900 on Ribas in order to win $100. To put things in perspective, Kamaru Usman is considered a significant favorite (-275) against Jorge Masvidal and is the biggest favorite outside of Ribas.
Ribas said she even wanted to bet on herself
Amanda Ribas is the daughter of a jiu-jitsu trainer and has been working at her skill since she was very young. She told flocombat.com that she was born to fight. At one point in her training, she said she was giving up jiu-jitsu for dancing and that didn’t go over well with her father. “I was born on the mat. It was for me. There was a time when I stopped doing jiu-jitsu to dance. My father wanted to die,” she said.
At media day, she was asked if she was surprised by how big of a favorite she was going into this fight. She was asked if she was really this good and if she deserved to be such a huge favorite. “I hope so,” she said with a huge laugh. “I was training a lot for this.
“So when I saw this in the houses where the people put money (sportsbooks), it’s amazing for me and I’m looking how to put money down too,” she said while still laughing. “I don’t put pressure on myself because this competition, this vibe, is my home.”