Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight talents Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas will square off this weekend (Sat., Jan. 23, 2021) at UFC 257 inside “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Though ultimately a split-decision went against her last time out, Rodriguez has an argument for being undefeated in five trips to the Octagon. The striker has a real savagery to her fight style, as Rodriguez tunes opponents up with a very aggressive mix of punches, elbows, and knees from close distance.
Ribas is one of her division’s fastest rising prospects. With an infectious personality and very well-rounded skill set, the sky appears to be the limit for the Brazilian, who has won four straight fights in the UFC.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Tecia Torres (UFC Fight Night 156), Jessica Aguilar (UFC on ESPN 2), Maria de Oliveira Neta (DWTNCS Brazil Season 1)
Key Losses: Carla Esparza (UFC Fight Island 3)
Keys To Victory: Rodriguez’s Muay Thai is positively violent. She puts together combinations really well, and the second she smells a moment of weakness from her foe, she just keeps attacking. However, her takedown defense has let her down in several fights now, allowing opponents to pull back into control after getting smacked around standing.
Avoiding the takedown is absolutely the key to victory for Rodriguez in this fight. Ribas can strike, but she’s more decorated on the mat, and it’s clear where each woman’s advantage lies.
As mentioned a moment ago, Rodriguez is great at building combinations and pursuing opponents. However, she can also get overzealous and give her opponent takedown opportunities in the process. Balancing her natural aggression with necessary cautiousness will be of major importance to stopping the takedown.
In addition, when the two clinch, knees will be of major value. Ribas has some slick throws from that range, but it’s much more difficult to time trips and throws when Rodriguez is hammering knees to the mid-section in quick succession.
Key Wins: Mackenzie Dern (UFC Fight Night 161), Paige VanZant (UFC 251), Randa Markos (UFC Fight Night 170), Emily Whitmire (UFC on ESPN 3)
Key Losses: Polyana Viana (Jungle Fight 83)
Keys to Victory: A jiu-jitsu and Judo black belt, Ribas has proven a handful on the mat. However, when faced with a genuine grappling master in Dern, Ribas still managed to employ an excellent sprawl-and-brawl game plan, demonstrating both her smarts and wide range of skills.
Going with the path of least resistance is almost always the smartest idea inside the cage. Rodriguez has proven herself a gnarly striker with iffy takedown defense. As the more well-rounded athlete, Ribas has the huge advantage of being able to choose to attack her foe’s weak area.
Esparza showed that a skilled wrestler can take Rodriguez down when trying hard and willing to chain wrestle. Ribas may not have Esparza’s double leg shot, but she can certainly move better on the outside and create openings for clinch entries by making strikes miss. Once on top, Ribas has also shown a more aggressive submission game, which could be just the ticket in punishing Rodriguez’s athletic scrambling.
Both of these women are trying to make an impact at 115 pounds.
Rodriguez has a very fan friendly style. Her kickboxing is aggressive and varied, and her strikes seem to land with a more significant impact than a fair majority of her peers. She has struggled to find consistent victories inside the Octagon, but each of her trips to the cage provides some very impressive moments at the least.
If Rodriguez can perform in the most high-profile bout of her career, it will lead to a big opportunity next.
That same sentiment is doubly true for Ribas, who last took out Paige VanZant on the second biggest pay-per-view (PPV) of 2020. She once again has the opportunity to open the main card of a blockbuster event, and this is not by accident. UFC believes in Ribas’ potential to become a more well-known name, which means that another win could even shoot her all the way up to a title eliminator next.
At UFC 257, Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas will open the main card. Which woman will have her hand raised?