Amanda Ribas is answering a standard interview question about what makes her UFC 257 opponent, Marina Rodriguez, so dangerous.
“She has really good striking. She throws elbows, kicks, she knows how to defend some takedowns. I think she has really good psychology, because sometimes she doesn’t change her face.”
Upon saying this, Ribas bursts out laughing, recognizing that a stoic poker face is not a trait that she has developed.
“I change a lot,” she exclaims. “You can see it in my eyes!”
In her eyes, yes and on her face, definitely, Ribas is a fighter who wears her emotions on her sleeve. Overwhelming, those emotions are of the happy and joyous variety. She scarcely gets through a few words without a belly laugh, and her smile is ever-present.
That disposition, combined with an undefeated four-fight run has quickly raised the Brazilian’s profile in the promotion in the 18 months since her debut, making her a favorite among fans and feared among strawweights.
“The camp was amazing for this fight. I was preparing in the beginning to fight against Carla Esparza, then Michelle Waterson and now Marina. She is a really tough girl, a really tough fighter.”
Waterson and Esparza sit higher in the rankings than Rodriguez currently, but Ribas dismisses any notion that she’s disappointed by the latest opponent change.
“No, because one is a complement of another one. For me now, I am Amanda Ribas more complete than the Amanda Ribas who fought against Paige [VanZant],” she explains, noting she believes everything happens for a reason. “Maybe it’s not the time for her fight against me. Now is the time for me to fight against Marina. I’ll give my best in the Octagon. Because she’s really tough. Because I am tough, too. And I like to fight.”
That much is evident. The 27-year-old has compiled a 10-1 record since turning pro in 2014, with her lone loss occurring nearly six years ago. In each successive bout, one can witness a continued evolution in her game, a phenomenon she credits to her willingness to learn.
“In all training I learn something. My coaches will say something to me, and I’ll be like ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know about that.’ This is good, because it shows me how I can be better. If in training you don’t get one percent better, it was not a good training (session).”
The method has paid obvious dividends in the Octagon, where Ribas seems to be having as much fun as she does outside of it…something relatively difficult to imagine when you speak with her.
While some fighters “flip a switch” from their daily personas to their warrior mentality on fight night, Ribas describes more of a quiet moment before the opening horn.
“When I start to wrap my hands,” she says of her fight night ritual, “I start to close my face. I think about everything I’ve passed through, everything I’ve trained, my strategy. In that time, I start to be more calm, more focused…and change my hair.”
More riotous laughter. Change her hair?
“When I focus it’s like Goku,” she laughs, gesturing the transformation when the Dragonball Z character goes Super Saiyan.
The fun-loving Ribas returns shortly thereafter, even as she stands across from the likes of Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and VanZant. With each impressive win, she endears herself more to UFC fans, and has noticed the growing interest in her performances.
"I think when you're positive you can beat the world and I want to show that." - @AmandaRibasUFC talks about being back #InAbuDhabi, about her #UFC257 fight against Marina Rodriguez and her philosophy on life 🔊⬆️— UFC News (@UFCNews) January 19, 2021
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“I feel excited for me. When you say that my arms start to…” she gestures that she’s getting goosebumps and laughs. “Because I like that. I like that people want to see my fights. For me, it’s not pressure; it’s good! It’s incentive. It’s amazing that everyone wants to watch you fight. Wants to watch your technique. It’s good.”
While the number of fans in attendance at UFC 257 will be extremely limited, Ribas welcomes the return to live events, even as she celebrated the novelty of no-fan events forced by the pandemic.
“I’m really blessed because I fought in the first UFC [event] without the public in Brasilia. Then I fought here on UFC Fight Island. Now I’m on UFC Fight Island with the public. For me this is a great opportunity. I’m feeling really good, because I love this island. I love the people. The sun…everything. They treat us like…I’m feeling like a queen. I’m really happy to be here.”
As she says this, there is zero doubt of her honesty. There’s no gimmick, no put-on, no posturing for cameras. Just an infectious, and often enviable, love of the moment.
“I want to show everybody that with a simple smile, you can change the world. Not just my world, but some world that I don’t even know. I think when you are positive you can beat the world.”
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