A little over two years ago, on June 5, 2021, Tabatha Ricci made her Octagon debut against Manon Fiorot. The fight didn’t go Ricci’s way, with the fight being stopped in the second round and handing Ricci the first loss in her professional career. Since then, Ricci moved down to strawweight and is on a four-fight win streak, sitting at No. 10 in the rankings.
It has been a steady climb for “Baby Shark,” who is always on focused on continuing to get better and climbing the mountain.
“I'm just following the game plan, keeping my team around me, family, good energy, training hard every day,” Ricci said. “I love my lifestyle of the process and just keeping what I'm doing.”
Since the loss the Fiorot, who is now at No. 3 in the strawweight rankings, she has fired off wins against Maria Oliveira, Polyana Viana, Jessica Penne and, most recently in June, Gillian Robertson. Following her fight against Robertson, who holds the record for most finishes in the flyweight division, Ricci believed that she has improved all aspects of her game, including her standup game, which is something that she wants to showcase this weekend at UFC 295 against Loopy Godinez.
When this fight between Ricci and Godinez was announced, many fight fans circled it on their calendars, excited for the matchup between two rising stars in the division. Godinez sits three spots down from Ricci in the rankings at 13, but is on a three-fight win streak, defeating Cynthia Calvillo, Emily Ducote and Elise Reed. Ricci is looking forward to testing herself against Godinez.
“We got into LFA at the same time, and we have both been winning fights and getting in the rankings, so I was expecting that we were going to fight,” Ricci said. “She has been active, and she has a very good standup game. She comes from a wrestling background, and it is going to be an honor to share the cage with her, but I'm very excited to get my win Saturday and I can't wait to show what I've been improving on for this fight.”
Not only does she get to share the Octagon with Godinez, but she also gets to do it inside the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. But for Ricci, this is just another fight and another person in the way of her achieving her dreams.
“It is an honor to be fighting here in New York on this big card,” Ricci said. “The arena has a lot of history, so I want to feel the energy and I want to see how it is, but it is one more day in the office when we're fighting, and I just want to feel the energy and see.”
When I asked Ricci what she had to be aware of when facing someone like Godinez, who has won six of her last eight, she laughed and has a quick response.
“Nothing. I'm ready for anything.”
Come Saturday night, Ricci believes the two strawweights will exchange with each other a little bit before seeing where things go, potentially taking things to the mat because they both have grappling backgrounds. But, at the end of the day, she has already envisioned the picture in her mind of her hand being the one that gets raised after the fight.
And she never loses sight of the goal in mind.
“Every fight is the most important fight for me; winning the fight, I just want to move toward winning the belt. The rank and number don’t matter for me, I just want to keep moving one fight at a time and see what I am going to get.”
UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!