On October 1st, Tabatha “Baby Shark” Ricci (7-1) looks to make it three in a row, taking on the veteran Jessica Penne (14-7). Dama de Ferro was the first to break the news of the match up.
The Baby Shark: a Contender in the Making
While Ricci has only had three fights in the UFC, many MMA fans view her as a real scrapper in the 115-pound Strawweight Division of the UFC. The orthodox fighter has shown a well balanced game, with a good hustle to win rounds. Her only loss in the UFC came with her debut, running into a future contender at 125, being the French fighter Manon Fiorot. Giving credit to Fiorot, she has been perfect in the UFC, finding two finishes and outclassing veteran fighter Jenifer Maia. Overall, not a bad loss to have.
Now fighting down a weight class, the coming out party for the Brazilian may be right around the corner with a win October 1st.
Tabitha Ricci pulls off the dominant performance to get her first UFC win!
— UFC (@ufc) October 23, 2021
How Does The Baby Shark Stack Up in 115 Pounds?
The strawweight has the most depth within Women"s MMA, and fighters like Tabatha Ricci prove it. Ricci is a grappler, who knows how to stay on top, and forces mistakes on her opponents. Looking at her bout with Polyana Viana, she took advantage of Viana’s willingness to play guard, and not give her room to work.
While this was a great showcase for her, she had trouble finding the takedown in the second round, and the reach disadvantage started to show in that fight. There is no doubt Ricci will need to improve her wrestling ability if she hopes to contend with the higher-rated fighters at 115 pounds. Fighters like Amanda Lemos will pick her apart at range if she can’t find the takedowns. Still, even in the fight with Polyana Viana, she was showing growth. At 27, there is a lot of potential.
Ricci is not the only one looking to ascend 115 pounds. Not too long ago Loopy Godinez was seeking her jump up the rankings after a fight with Angela Hill. Many people were counting Hill out in that bout, the veteran fight IQ of people like Hill cannot be underestimated. As Ricci climbs the ranks who these question will be answered.
UFC Vegas 61: Match Up
Ricci vs Penne is a match up worth getting invested. With the American being ranked, this is a classic fight where the old guard tries to hold their spot. While Penne has had mixed activity since 2015, she has recently put up some solid victories. Slowing down the rise of Loopy Godinez, and finding an arm bar 30 seconds in on Karolina Kowalkiewicz, good performances.
Penne"s credentials are going to be the biggest test in Ricci’s run at 115. Can she get Penne to the ground and keep her there? Will the striking advantage of Penne be too great? It"s good matchmaking.
UFC Vegas 61: Implications
Breaking into the top 15 of any division is no easy task. The American has been able to hold onto that spot for a long time, and even compete for a title. Also coming off a loss, and at 39 years of age, a win here is imperative. For the Brazilian, a loss here would leave her 2-2 in the promotion and stuck in a tough spot.
The bottom line is, a loss would be a career setback, certainly. This is a high-stakes bout for both fighters that will have implications for the future in the division.
— Tabatha "BABY SHARK" Ricci 🦈 (@TabathaRicci) July 2, 2022