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Amanda Ribas reflects on breakout 2020 campaign, Paige VanZant going from opponent to training partner

UFC 251 Usman v Masvidal: Weigh-Ins
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

While 2020 brought a lot of negativity to the world, the positive presence of Amanda Ribas was a welcome change of pace.

Ribas improved to 4-0 in the UFC with a pair of impressive victories in 2020. The 27-year-old earned a unanimous decision win over Randa Markos at UFC Brasilia—the promotion’s first event without fans in attendance due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. She went on to open up the UFC 251 main card on Fight Island and submitted Paige VanZant in the first round.

As she prepares to face Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257, Ribas reflects on her breakout year that brought her from exciting prospect, to the road of potential stardom.

“It was a crazy year,” Ribas told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “It was different because the UFC [in] Brasilia was the first event without the public and then I fought on the Island—which was crazy and beautiful. It was crazy in a bad way because of the pandemic, but it was good for me.

“I’m blessed to have those fights on my record, I’m blessed to have my training, my [training] partners, my health. So it’s been an amazing year for me.”

In preparation for her Jan. 23 matchup with Rodriguez, Ribas—as she typically does—held her training camp at American Top Team. She had been preparing for a matchup at UFC 256 that never came to fruition against Carla Esparza, as well as a bout with Michelle Waterson for UFC 257 before Waterson was scratched from the contest.

With Rodriguez now in that spot, Ribas found herself a new training and sparring partner in her most recent opponent, VanZant. Keeping with the traditions of the martial arts lifestyle, Ribas is honored to be working with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship’s newest star.

“It’s really different because my last camp was to fight against her, and now she’s helping me in this camp, and I’m helping her for her [BKFC] boxing,” Ribas said. “It’s cool. It’s amazing and we can show everybody that it’s professional. I’m not mad at her, she’s not mad at me. It’s professional.

“If she can help me, yes she will. If I can help her, I will help her. We are martial artists. We’re artists, not just crazy people throwing punches at each other. We are athletes. It’s amazing.”

After their bout at UFC 251, VanZant entered free agency and ultimately signed with the BKFC. As MMA Fighting first reported, “12 Gauge” is slated to make her promotional debut on Feb. 5 against Britain Hart.

Although VanZant’s signing with the BKFC was received in a somewhat surprising manner, Ribas believes that her new teammate has made the right decision.

“She’s a really smart girl, Ribas stated. “She has a really big heart and, I think for her, it will be good because no one who has a weak heart, or is a little scared, can fight like that without gloves. For her, I think it will be a big step to get money because they pay her really good. I think it will be really good.”

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