The one and only Conor McGregor is making his highly anticipated return to the octagon this weekend, which means all eyes will be on UFC 257. As most of us know, when McGregor is on any UFC marquee, fans from all around the world tune in. This of course is a great thing, not only for McGregor’s bank account and the UFC’s brand, but for the fighters on the rest of the card. It is their chance to showcase their talents to the world and prove they can perform under the bright lights.
This includes a UFC 257 main card matchup between two fast rising prospects in the UFC Women’s Strawweight Division. We have the number eight ranked Marina Rodriguez taking on number nine ranked Amanda Ribas. Both of these women hail from Brazil and since each of their respective arrivals in the UFC, have quickly proven just how great their skill sets are. Let’s take a closer look at each fighter and their paths to victory this Saturday night at UFC 257!
In the red corner, we have Marina Rodriguez, a 33 year old Muay Thai practitioner. Now at first glance, you may think how could I have listed Marina as a prospect if she is 33? Well, that is because she has only been fighting professionally since 2015 and did not make her debut in the UFC until September of 2018. But don’t get it mistaken, because with a record of 12-1-2 (2-1-2 in the UFC) Rodriguez has already taken on a killers row of competition and successfully cracked into the top-ten in just a little over two years with the company.
Marina quickly made a name for herself when she was granted the opportunity to fight on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Brazil, where she secured a TKO victory just three minutes into the first round.
Following her win on DWCS, the UFC realized the talent Marina possessed and wasted no time giving her a ranked opponent in her debut fight. This was against Randa Markos, who at the time was ranked thirteenth and a true veteran of this Strawweight Division. However this debut did not go like most, in terms of the end result I should say. These two instead fought to a Majority Draw, in a fight that Marina came on very strong in during rounds two and three. However, Markos dominated round one which ultimately led to two of the judges scoring the first round 10-8 for Randa, hence how we ended with a draw.
Following her debut, Marina got back on the right track, picking up two Unanimous Decision victories over the likes of Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres. These wins lined her up for a big fight with another rising prospect at the time, Cynthia Calvillo. Yet again, we saw Marina fight to another Majority Draw. This time around, it was Rodriguez that came on strong early, winning rounds one and two. A strong third round by Calvillo on the ground left two judges to score that round 10-8, therefore handing Marina her second draw in only four UFC appearances.
Finally, in her most recent fight at UFC Fight Island 3, Marina took on the very first Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza. Rodriguez came out on the wrong side of a razor close Split Decision, which gave her her first professional loss. All of this leads to her main card outing this Saturday against Amanda Ribas at UFC 257. This is a tough fight here for Marina and a very important one as she looks to rebound from a loss and continue climbing the ranks at 115 pounds.
Amanda Ribas may very well be one of the brightest personalities on the UFC roster right now, but don’t let that fool you, when she steps into the cage she comes to fight. And trust me, I expect nothing different at UFC 257. With a record of 10-1 (4-0 in the UFC) Ribas is quickly turning into the next star to come out of Brazil. She burst onto the scene when she made easy work of Emily Whitmire in her UFC debut in June of 2019 with a Rear Naked Choke submission and hasn’t taken her foot off the gas since.
In just her second UFC bout she was slated to fight then undefeated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern and boy what a great fight this turned out to be. These two went at it from start to finish and ultimately Ribas came out on top with the Unanimous Decision victory and handed Dern her first professional loss in the process.
Following this, Amanda went on to claim another Unanimous Decision victory, this time against Randa Markos. This led to Ribas getting a fight with her biggest named opponent, Paige VanZant, this past summer on the UFC 251 main card. Amanda was an overwhelming betting favorite coming into this fight and rightfully so, as she finished the fight just over two minutes into the very first round with an Armbar.
This most recent fight against VanZant is where I feel we really got to see just how big of a star Amanda Ribas could become. She lived up to the hype, performed at the highest level at the first UFC event on Fight Island, and proved she was ready for the next jump in competition. Oh, and by the way, this fight took place at 125 pounds, which isn’t even Amanda’s natural weight class. Keep that in mind for later on in her career. However, I don’t want to get too carried away here because Marina Rodriguez presents many problems for Amanda and I cannot wait to see how she will respond at UFC 257.
Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Ribas Prediction
For those of you sleeping on this fight, you may want to change your mind. Not only are both of these women world class martial artists, but between both of them, have combined for only two losses. This has the potential to play out as your typical “grappler vs. striker” fight but with the same token, Ribas is no slouch on the feet either. I will confidently say however, that on paper and with watching each of their fights in the UFC, Marina has the clear striking advantage, especially when it comes to Muay Thai.
Amanda will definitely have the advantage when it comes to the grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. So I guess the real question here is which of these fighters will be able to capitalize on their strengths to benefit them the most in this contest?
I feel that with Ribas having good enough standup to at least compete on the feet, is what will play the biggest factor. I do not feel that Marina will be able to dominate with her striking like she has with other fighters. However, if Ribas can get this fight to the ground, I feel comfortable in saying she does in fact have the chance to really pull away and put a stamp on this fight. By no means am I predicting either woman to have a one sided beat-down, but each have the chance to overwhelm the other with their respective strengths.
This really is such a great test for both fighters, not only to see where they stand in the Strawweight Division, in terms of skill but also to see who is ready to crack into the top five with a victory here at UFC 257. I can guarantee that we all will be able to walk away from this fight seeing some truly incredible examples of martial arts, and maybe, just maybe, a future UFC champion.
UFC 257 Fight Prediction: Amanda Ribas via Unanimous Decision
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images