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Amanda Ribas continues to shine ahead of UFC on ESPN 36

With an infectious personality outside the octagon and a dangerous game within, Ribas impressing in two divisions.
amanda-ribas

If you've never met Amanda Ribas in person, I'm here to confirm for you that she is exactly who she appears to be.

Cameras on or off, in a crowd or with one person, the Brazilian star is as hilarious as she is genuine. Every syllable of every sentence is punctuated by a laugh, a smile or some manifestation of her effortless effervescence.

It's exactly what they mean when they say somebody lights up a room. Even in the midst of a weight cut for her flyweight bout against Katlyn Chookagian (17-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) on Saturday at UFC on ESPN 36, Ribas (11-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) offers only sunshine.

"It feels amazing," she said. "I still need to cut weight, but I think this good vibe that I put in my heart comes from God, and I really believe if I put the good vibe for you, you will return this good vibe for me."

She might be on to something. It seems impossible to be in a bad mood around her.

"Some fighters don't like to do interviews or take photos, because it takes time, it's a hard time. But imagine if I go to do interviews like (sighing, drops shoulders) ‘I'm tired, I don't want to do the interview.' This vibe will come back to me."

Instead, she opts for the vibe she's using now as we sit in the UFC Apex.

"I'm tired? Ok, but let's go!" she said. "It's part of my job, and if I put my best energy, you'll be great."

Greatness is something she's hoping to manifest on the main card of UFC on ESPN 36, where she aspires to take Chookagian's No. 1 ranking and knock on the door of the division champ.

"This huge opportunity came to me, and I grabbed it with my arms, my legs…with everything that I have."

Ribas has compiled most of her 11 professional wins at strawweight, but when the chance came to cut the line in such dramatic fashion, it was impossible to turn down. Flyweight gold in two more fights? Who wouldn't want that chance?

"First I need to think on just one blonde girl, that's Katlyn," she says. "After that, maybe I'll think on another blonde girl, Valentina (Shevchenko). Or Taila (Santos)!"

Shevchenko and Santos are scheduled to square off in the co-main of June's UFC 275, and Ribas will be watching with keen interest.

"Valentina is a long time at the top," she says. She says "top" with fervor and gestures with her hand to indicate the pinnacle of the sport. "She is really strong. But Taila is coming with that fire."

Whoever it is, Ribas is correct in focusing on Chookagian, the perennially tough out who has fought exceedingly well in her quest to return to the title picture.

"I think it's a good style for me," says Ribas. "I need to be careful because she is taller than me, so I need to be bigger than her. I can't let her enjoy the fight. I will enjoy."

Ribas isn't a complete stranger to 125 pounds. She submitted Paige VanZant at that weight when the two met at UFC 251 in 2020.

"In strawweight, I'm faster. In flyweight, I'm stronger. I like to fight in both," she says simply. But she'll wisely wait to see how Saturday shakes out before she commits to any future plan.

Even as her colleagues are increasingly fighting in front of capacity crowds as UFC events return to the road, you won't catch Ribas bemoaning the fact that she's in Las Vegas' Apex.

"No! I like it here," she insists. She explains that having come from a family of fighters, places like the UFC Performance Institute and the Apex are nearly sacrosanct, having a real fighter vibe that gives her goosebumps. Still, that doesn't mean she's not eager to show her particular talents in front of adoring crowds, particularly in her native Brazil. The last time she fought there was the first time without a crowd as the UFC began lockdown protocols.

"Do you believe? The last time in Brasilia, my mom is supposed to go and they took a bus to go from my city to Brasilia. A lot of people want to go there and watch. And then, boom. Covid. But I think maybe one day I'll go there, and everybody will be screaming for me and clap their hands with me. It will be amazing.

"I will cry a lot," she says, before bursting into the loudest bout of laughter you've ever heard.

This story first published at UFC.com.