It’s fight week, and Amanda Ribas is hunkering down in the hotel. She’s happy it features a kitchen for the healthy regimen she needs and she is relishing the convenience of being right next to her practice room.
“This week I’m just focusing on my fight,” she says. “But I will be here for one week after my fight to enjoy the restaurants and to see the city.”
The only other time Ribas visited Las Vegas, she was winning an amateur bout under the Tuff-N-Uff banner back in 2014. She was only 20 at the time and not really able to live it up. This time, she’s not only a professional, but one of the UFC’s elite strawweights ready to make a statement in the fight capital of the world.
“This is the first time,” she beams. “I’m really happy with this.”
Rise Of Amanda Ribas
Rise Of Amanda Ribas
Ribas is really happy with most things, it would seem. Her disarmingly upbeat personality is as much of her brand as her dominance inside the Octagon. If anyone needed further evidence of how deeply the good vibes run in the Brazilian’s persona, look no further than her most recent fight: a loss last January. After taking off like a rocket in the UFC, Ribas suffered her first loss in nearly six years—and only her second professionally--at the hands of Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257. Seconds after suffering defeat, the smiles and gregariousness returned.
“I was in Abu Dhabi, in the big hotel,” she explains as though it should be painfully obvious. “Am I going to stay in my room crying? No!”
Ribas’ sanguine energy in bad times as well as good is as enviable as it is infectious. Still, that doesn’t mean she never has a bad day. When she flew back to Brazil following the bout, the emotions came to the surface.
“When I came home and saw my mom and my little sister and my brother [makes crying face], I cried so hard. I cried, cried, cried. But my mom said to me ‘Hey Amanda! Heads up! You’ve been fighting since you were a baby. You lost a lot of times. You won a lot of times. So you were prepared for that. So heads up! Come on.’ When she said that to me, I said to myself ‘Oh my goodness. I’ve been doing this all my life, so let’s go. Let’s learn what you need to learn. And…I think I learned it.”
In other words, those good vibes run in the family. And it was a family affair for the fight camp for this Saturday’s bout vs Angela Hill on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Waterson.
The bout with Hill wasn’t exactly short notice, but it did come together quickly in just over a month’s time. With a shorter-than-normal window to prepare, Ribas opted to stay in her native Brazil for fight camp instead of her longtime home at Florida’s American Top Team. Losing precious preparation time to travel played a big role in her decision.
“I think the best part was there [in Brazil] I have everything so close to me. I did all the sparring with girls who are my friends. My dad [jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai coach Marcelo Ribas] did my striking and the strategy. Sensei was on Facetime, my brother did my conditioning. I had physical therapists and nutritionists do my weight cut. And my mom did my food! And I know this weekend is Mom’s Day—it’s international too! International Mom’s Day! So it’s been amazing.”
She humorously adds a few extra syllables to the word “cut” when she says, “weight cut,” noting that she’s interested in taking fights up a weight class at flyweight, maybe even this year. She cackles with her honest reason.
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“I like to eat, guys!”
But for now, the task is at 115 pounds.
“My division is the best one because the girls are so equal. There are girls really hard in striking, girls really hard in no-gi, and we are all almost on the same level. I think it’s funny. You don’t have just one [champion]. Maybe next week will be another [champ]…maybe! [Laughs] I think it’s so beautiful, that belt. I want it! Of course, Angela Hill first, but I imagine me with the belt.”
She will look to add Hill to the growing list of strawweight vets who Ribas ran through in her first four UFC appearances, including Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and Paige VanZant. Hill, who is experiencing something of a renaissance as a fighter, arguably poses her toughest test to date.
“I think Angela Hill is really active. Not just inside the cage, but outside the cage. If the UFC needs some fighter, she fights! She’s really experienced. She doesn’t stop. This will be a challenge for me.”
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Stopping is the single biggest thing Ribas is aiming to avoid going forward. She faults the breather she was taking in the second round of her fight against Rodriguez as the moment that was ultimately her undoing. We’re talking about martial arts, but Ribas sees a larger life lesson for everyone.
“Not just a fighter…I think everybody can’t stop in their life, because if you stop, someone throws a punch at you and you get knocked down. And this happened to me! And I learned this: we can’t stop in anything in our life!”