It is almost time! The UFC’s highly anticipated Fight Island, located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, will be making its grand debut. The spectacle that is Fight Island will be kicking off with UFC 251: Usman vs. Masvidal on Sunday, July 12th. The main card for UFC 251 will be kicking off with Amanda Ribas vs. Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant at 6:00 AM, local time. This fight will be held at flyweight, where VanZant has spent her previous two fights. For Ribas, this will be her first time stepping into the octagon as a flyweight, as she normally competes in the women’s strawweight division.
This fight was supposed to take place on March 14th at UFC Fight Night: Lee vs. Oliveira. However, VanZant was forced out of the fight due to a fractured right arm. This was the third time in two years that VanZant had injured her right arm. Ribas went on to defeat VanZant’s replacement, Randa Markos. Now that VanZant’s arm has been healed, the fight between these two is back on!
In anticipation of this fight, we will be taking a brief look at both fighter’s professional careers. At the end, we will wrap the article up with an attempt at predicting the outcome of the fight. Join us by leaving your fight prediction in the comments and see if you can get it right!
|Amanda Ribas||Tale of the Tape||Paige VanZant|
|66 inches||Reach||65 inches|
Amanda Ribas earned her shot in the UFC after amassing a 6-1 record in various promotions in her native Brazil. Of those six victories, five were finishes within the first two rounds. The only loss Ribas has suffered in her career occurred at the hands of fellow UFC competitor Polyana Viana by way of a first-round knockout before either fighter made it to the big show. After that defeat, Ribas went on to knockout Chilean fighter Jennifer Gonzalez Araneda to get the attention of the UFC. Unfortunately, Ribas’ UFC career was in jeopardy before she could even step inside the octagon.
Ribas was originally scheduled to make her UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale against Juliana Lima in July of 2017. However, prior to the event, USADA flagged Ribas for a potential anti-doping violation and she was removed from the fight. The cause of the violation was due to ostarine, a banned substance, being detected in an out of competition test. This violation resulted in USADA handing Ribas a 2-year suspension that she tried to fight but she ultimately accepted the suspension in January of 2018. In May of 2019, USADA determined that Ribas’ positive test was the result of a dietary supplement that had been contaminated with ostarine. After nearly two years, Ribas was finally vindicated. Even though she hadn’t fought since May of 2016, Ribas had been training and was ready to make her UFC debut just one month after her suspension was lifted.
Inside the UFC
Once her suspension was lifted, Ribas was highly motivated to make her UFC debut count. She quickly accepted a fight against Emily Whitmire and earned her first UFC win by way of a rear-naked choke in the second round. Ribas followed up her first win inside the octagon with a convincing unanimous decision victory over Mackenzie Dern, giving Dern her only professional loss. In her most recent fight, Ribas won again by unanimous decision, this time after dominating Randa Markos. Ribas has been on a tear since her suspension and she is looking to jumpstart a championship run with a victory over a big name like VanZant.
Prior to joining the UFC, Paige VanZant earned a 3-1 record as a professional, with two decision wins and one win by submission. VanZant’s only loss prior to joining the UFC came at the hands of Tecia Torres before either fighter got their UFC opportunity. When the UFC decided to create a women’s strawweight division, VanZant was announced as one of the fighters that would be competing in the new division.
Joining the UFC and Fighting At Strawweight
Paige VanZant began her UFC career with three straight victories. She was able to defeat Kailin Curran by TKO, Felice Herrig by unanimous decision, and Alex Chambers by submission. VanZant’s first UFC loss came at the hands of Rose Numajunas, who won the women’s strawweight championship four fights later. After that loss, VanZant won by way of a spectacular knockout over Bec Rawlings that earned her a performance of the night bonus. In VanZant’s final strawweight fight to date, she lost via rear-naked choke to Michelle Waterson.
VanZant’s Injuries and Change To Flyweight
After VanZant’s loss to Waterson, she decided to make the switch to flyweight. This switch also coincided with a long string of injuries that have plagued VanZant’s career as of late. VanZant’s debut at flyweight was originally scheduled to be against Jessica Eye but she was pulled out of the fight due to injury. It was later revealed that VanZant had suffered a herniated disc, in addition to having a double ear infection, pink eye, a sinus infection, and ringworm. Once healthy, VanZant finally got her flyweight debut in a unanimous decision loss against Jessica Rose-Clark.
After her fight against Rose-Clark, it was revealed that VanZant had broken her right arm during the fight. It would be another year before VanZant would be able to make an appearance inside the octagon again. VanZant’s most recent fight was a submission victory over Rachel Ostovich in 2019. However, since that fight, VanZant has fractured her right arm twice, causing a long hiatus. During her hiatus, VanZant was forced to have surgery on her arm to help heal the break. VanZant will be looking to make a statement in her return to the octagon.
This fight will have a big impact on how both of these fighter’s careers go from here. Paige VanZant is on the last fight of her current UFC contract. A win would put her in a great position to negotiate a new one, or even explore opportunities elsewhere. A loss could mean the end to her UFC career and force her to accept whatever is offered to her next if she wants to continue fighting. For Amanda Ribas, a convincing win over a bigger name like VanZant could propel her up the rankings and open her up for even more opportunities inside the UFC. A loss would be a huge blow to her championship aspirations.
This fight could just as easily go the distance as it could end up in a finish. Both fighters have won in a variety of ways and are highly motivated to win. These two fighters are evenly matched in size, reach, and experience. This fight really could go either way but I feel like Ribas has the advantage in her striking abilities.
Result: Ribas by TKO in Round 2
With three wins by knockout, three wins by submission, and three wins by decision, Ribas has shown that she can win in a variety of ways. Although VanZant has never been knocked out in her professional career, Ribas is an intelligent striker that knows how to pick her shots. I expect Ribas to spend most of the first round feeling out VanZant on her feet before unloading on her in the second round and getting the finish. Once Ribas has damaged her opponent, she will continue to pick them apart until the fight is done. Despite VanZant’s strong chin, I feel that Ribas will be able to get the job done and won’t let a fight go to the judge’s hands for the third straight time.
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