Amanda Ribas is admittedly honored to be sharing a pay-per-view card with Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier on top. But she doesn’t plan to playing second fiddle to the intriguing lightweight matchup.
The road to Rodriguez was a bumpy one for the 27-year-old breakout star. Ribas initially agreed to face Carla Esparza at UFC 256, but the fight never fully materialized. She was then scheduled to face No. 7-ranked Michelle Waterson at the UFC’s first PPV event of 2021 before Waterson was forced to withdraw from the bout.
With two big fights in the rearview mirror (for the time being), Ribas shifted focus to the task at hand.
“I don’t know what happened, but I was really excited to fight her,” Ribas told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “It didn’t happen at that time, and then I was supposed to fight Michelle Waterson and that didn’t happen. It was bad for me, but now I get to fight against Marina.
“I’m just thinking about her because that definitely will be a really important fight for my career.”
The always positive Ribas admits she was a little bummed losing out on a pair of fights with top-10 opponents. After reflecting on a two-year USADA suspension before she threw her first UFC punch – ultimately she was cleared after an investigation – losing a fight or two didn’t seem like the end of the world. In fact, she believes that everything happens for a reason.
“After the USADA [suspension], I try not to think too hard because I was really sad when I signed to the UFC, and that thing about USADA, and the doping, and then two years later they told me I was good to fight,” Ribas said. “So I learned that everything has a time, and maybe it wasn’t the time to fight Michelle, or against Carla, but the time was right to fight against Marina. That’s the way I think.”
While Ribas has been one of the rising contenders in the promotion’s most loaded women’s division, Rodriguez has been impressive in her own right. Coming off of Dana White’s Contender Series: Brasil, Rodriguez has only tasted defeat in one of her five octagon appearances, fighting Carla Esparza to a razor-close split decision at July’s UFC on ESPN 14 event. Rodriguez also holds wins over Tecia Torres and Jessica Aguilar, along with fighting Randa Markos and Cynthia Calvillo to majority draws.
Ribas has now had to prepare for three different opponents, and she believes that there are some similarities.
“I think Marina is a really good striker,” Ribas explained. “For Carla, I was doing a game. For Michelle, I was doing another game. And now for Marina, it’s almost the same [as] Michelle, but Marina is more muay Thai. I need to be careful with her elbows and kicks. But I think I can show more of my striking too, because in my last fight I was only on the ground with Paige [VanZant].
“But in this fight, I can show my elbows, my kicks, because I’ve been training so hard for this.”
Ribas believes that the fight with Rodriguez could steal the show at UFC 257. While she is well aware of the magnitude of being on a fight card headlined by a high-level matchup that includes the biggest star in the sport, the American Top Team standout is optimistic that she won’t be an afterthought.
“I study a lot of my opponents,” Ribas said. “I watch her first fight, her second fight, her third fight so I can see that she’s getting better and better. And I hope in this fight that she comes with the best version of her because I want it to be a really big fight.
“This is the card with McGregor and Dustin so we need to do a very big fight because I don’t want to just be one fighter on a McGregor card. I want people to say, ‘Did you see that fight Amanda had against Marina? It was a big fight.’ I want people talking about my fight. Not just, ‘Oh, they fought on a McGregor card.’ I want [to steal the show].”
The plan for Ribas is simple: Put Rodriguez away, and get ready to watch the main event between the former two-division champion and her ATT teammate while enjoying her favorite post-fight treat.
“I hope I can win this fight and I’m asking God to give me his blessing because I’m training so hard,” Ribas stated. “I hope it can be a TKO, or a submission. It doesn’t matter which way. I want to win the fight, eat my chocolate, and watch [McGregor vs. Poirier].”