Amanda Ribas calls for June UFC return against Michelle Waterson

Amanda Ribas was expected to face Carla Esparza and then booked against Michelle Waterson before eventually meeting Marina Rodriguez in her most recent UFC bout in January, which marked her first loss inside the company. Back to training in her hometown Varginha, Brazil, Ribas wants to be once again paired up versus “The Karate Hottie” in 2021.

The strawweight prospect told MMA Fighting she hopes to re-enter the eight-sided cage in June, and Waterson would be the ideal opponent since she’s one of the most popular 115-pounders in the UFC roster and “everyone else has fights booked right now.”

“I think it would be a good matchup,” Ribas said. “Since we already agreed to it once before, it was booked, so it’s basically agreed again [laughs]. There’s a good hype, it would be a beautiful fight to watch, and fans want to see it. The UFC has agreed to that idea in the past so it would be a good fight for us. And she’s ranked higher than me, which would be good for me.”

Ribas was 4-0 in the UFC against the likes of Mackenzie Dern and Paige VanZant prior to her second-round stoppage defeat to Rodriguez on Fight Island. Waterson, on the other hand, looks to put a winning streak together after a split decision victory over Angela Hill in September 2020, which followed decision defeats to Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“I think it’s a tough matchup for me so I have to work on my guard, my takedowns, and attacks on the ground,” Ribas said. “She doesn’t only defend on the ground, she attacks as well, so I have to have my jiu-jitsu super sharp.”

The Brazilian said, prior to UFC 257, she wanted to “show a little bit of my muay Thai” against Rodriguez. Beaten on the feet, Ribas said she has learned a valuable lesson.

“I could see, in the Marina fight, something my father has always said, which is we can’t stand still against a striker,” Ribas said. “I stood there and got hit. I’m already fixing it in my training and next time, if it’s against Michelle, I won’t just stand still. You’ll get hit if you stand still, so I have to move. I’m learning that, and that’s not something you learn overnight. I’m already working on getting better so I’m at my best when it’s time to fight.”

Fighting is a family affair for the Ribas, as Amanda counts on her father Marcelo as her coach and brother Arthur as strength and conditioning coach in Varginha. The best post-defeat advice, however, came from her mother Mirelly, the only member of the family that doesn’t have ties to combat sports these days.

Ribas dealt well with defeat in Abu Dhabi, but bursted into tears when meeting her mother for the first time after UFC 253.

“I said, ‘Mom, how embarrassing, everybody stopped to watch my fight and I lost,’” Ribas said. “And she was like, ‘Amanda, stop being silly. People watched it because they like you, they like your career, and they were rooting for you. It happens sometimes, the perfect strike lands. In judo, sometimes you’re winning and the other girl scores an ippon. It happens, it’s a sport.’

“That calmed me down, and I want to fight again already. Let’s move on.”