Amanda Ribas hasn’t seen much of Fight Island yet. In fact, up to Wednesday’s media day, she’d been stuck in her room for about forty-eight hours.
Still, Ribas (9-1) couldn’t contain her excitement at being part of UFC 251, the first of four so-called “Fight Island” events on Yas Island. That’s in Abu Dhabi, not some deserted pirate island somewhere.
“When they tell me, ‘you’re fighting on Fight Island,’ it was ‘oh my god, really?’ In my mind, I imagined it was everybody in the streets, fighting, and training” she said with a laugh. Then, she was told she’d be on the main card. “For me, it’s amazing. Amazing experience, amazing for my life, amazing for everything for me.”
Opponent Paige VanZant enters the bout on the final fight of her contract. “12 Guage” has been vocal about exploring free agency, and getting paid what she’s worth. It’s not something Ribas is worrying about, however.
“I’m just worried about my fight, and my game,” she said. “If it is her last fight, I hope it will be a great fight — for me and for her.” With that in mind, the Brazilian said, she plans on bringing “the best Amanda Ribas ever” to the show.
She’s also hoping PVZ’s shine will rub off on her, so she can gain some fans. “I hope so. I think the UFC wants not just the fighter who knows how to fight, but who knows how to sell too. So when I fight with her, I hope I can get her fans with me too.”
Ribas has some big dreams, including winning titles at both strawweight and flyweight. She knows it will require a lot of dedication. “I need to put my feet on the floor. I need to train a lot. I need to be ready all the time,” she admitted. “But in the future, maybe double champ. Now, I’m thinking Paige. Next week, top fifteen. The end of the year, maybe a belt! I don’t know, I hope so.”
Thus far, of course, Ribas has competed at strawweight. The PVZ fight will be up at 125lbs, where VanZant has competed of late. What that does for Ribas’ strawweight status remains to be seen.
With an already upbeat personality, Ribas has been on cloud nine ahead of UFC 251. Especially being shoulder-to-shoulder with some fellow Brazilian stars.
“I saw Jose Aldo in a movie, then I saw him by my side,” she said. “So for me it’s a big deal. Then I saw Jessica [Andrade], and she was talking to me. For me, it’s amazing. Amazing. I feel like a big person too.”
UFC 251 takes place this Saturday, July 11 on Fight Island (Yas Island) in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs live on PPV.