Amanda Ribas pledges to take Amanda Nunes’ challenge to Brazilian fighters seriously

Amanda Nunes stood in the center of the Octagon on June 10 in Vancouver, British Columbia, reveling in the hearty ovation the Rogers Arena crowd gave her after announcing she was retiring immediately as an MMA fighter. She left not only as the UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion, but also as the undisputed greatest of all time in women’s MMA.

There was joy in Nunes voice as she spoke after completing an amazing career, but not everything she said was about herself.

Nunes’ retirement meant there was no longer a Brazilian champion in the UFC, which had been a constant since Anderson Silva became its middleweight champion in 2006.

Nunes urged his fellow Brazilians to pull themselves together and win another championship for their country.

Amanda Ribas, ninth UFC flyweight and former teammate of Nunes at American Top Team, paid close attention to those words.

“Amanda has been a huge inspiration to me,” said Ribas, who will face No. 11 Maycee Barber on Saturday in the UFC on ABC 5 co-main event at VyStar Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. Ribas is a -200 favorite at BetMGM, with Barber at +165 on the comeback.

“When I first trained at ATT and I wasn’t a UFC fighter yet, she saw me working and she pulled me aside,” Ribas told Yahoo Sports. “I remember it so well. She said, ‘Amanda! You need to relax. I relaxed and all that hard work I put in paid off when I wasn’t so tight. Relax and you’ll be fine.” And that’s what I did.”

Ribas has become one of the most popular flyweights despite yet to own a signature win. Seems like she’s a perpetual smiler and is a positive, outgoing person who seems to be having fun whatever task she’s handling.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 04: Amanda Ribas of Brazil has her hands wrapped before her fight at UFC 285 at T-Mobile Arena on March 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC flyweight Amanda Ribas was inspired by former champion Amanda Nunes’ challenge to her fellow Brazilians and is looking forward to winning a championship. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

She’s worked on keeping a positive mindset, she said, and feels it’s made a difference in her game. The winner of Saturday’s fight will likely establish herself as a legitimate title contender, while the other will lose a few notches and will have to climb the ladder.

Unsurprisingly, Ribas had nothing but praise for Barber and said she worked harder than ever to prepare for this fight because she knew Barber still had a great tank of gas. Conditioning is often the difference between winning and losing when fighters are tied. Being able to go harder for longer often makes the difference.

Ribas willingly pushed herself so she could push in the final, maybe decisive seconds.

“Maycee Barber has a lot of hype around her, but she gets that hype because she’s a good fighter and she always comes to fight,” Ribas said. “She’s good at so many things but her conditioning is always [excellent]. I trained hard on my conditioning because I believe that’s what could win or lose this fight.”

Ribas is a black belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and judo — as is Nunes — and has settled down as a flyweight after moving back and forth between flyweight and strawweight over the years.

She is 2-2 in her last four, losing to Marina Rodriguez before defeating Virna Jandiroba at strawweight before moving back to 125 pounds where she lost to Kaitlyn Chookagian before defeating Viviane Araujo in March.

The division seems more open now since Alexa Grasso defeated longtime champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 285, breaking the hold Shevchenko had on the belt.

Ribas took Nunes’ post-UFC 289 words seriously and intends to become a world champion. These are the kinds of fights that greats like Nunes and Shevchenko have consistently won: tough matches against tough opponents. Ribas is excited to begin the journey to title contention.

“Alexa Grasso really showed what can be done, and that there’s not a lot of difference between the champion and a lot of the top contenders out there,” Ribas said. “[Shevchenko] is an incredible fighter and I respect what she has done and what she has done for the sport. But Alexa overcame her and showed us all that it was possible. You have to believe in it and you have to get on with it, but what I realize is that we’re not that far from [winning a title] as perhaps it might have seemed before.”

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