Welcome to the UFC: Tabatha Ricci

Tabatha Ricci
Tabatha Ricci Credit: Facebook

UFC Vegas 28 is going down this Saturday at the Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card is headlined by heavyweights Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai. In a flyweight fight, Maryna Moroz was fighting Manon Fiorot but Moroz pulled out. Now going to the reliable LFA promotion twice this week on short notice (also picking up Gregory Rodrigues), the UFC has signed Brazil’s Tabatha Ricci to step in and fight Fiorot.

Tabatha “BB Shark” Ricci
Standing at 5’1″
Fighting at 115 lbs (strawweight)
Fighting out of Aracatuba, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Training out of Paragon BJJ/Black House MMA/Knuckleheadz
A pro record of 5-0
2 Submissions

How will Ricci fare in the UFC:

At only 5-0 and fighting lower-level girls, it would’ve been nice to see Ricci get more experience first. Also, it’s her stepping in against a really good fighter on under a week’s notice and up a weight class. She would’ve been better suited to get a stiff challenge on the Contender Series this season and go from there.

Ricci is a judo black belt, a black belt in jiu-jitsu, and a national Muay Thai champion. Even though she’s well trained in all areas her jiu-jitsu is her strong suit. Her judo has played a big part in getting the fights to the ground. She’ll duck under punches to get to the legs and is good at striking her way into the clinch where she then uses her judo/trips. Her striking looks okay but is unpolished. Ricci is a flurry striker that wants to rush in with strikes in the close range. At the range I see her struggling when she can’t just bully her way in.

When Ricci gets the fight to the mat she’s in her world. Ricci has shown when she gets top position she’s a lockdown grappler. She’s deceptively strong and still goes for the finish actively. Ricci stays active with ground and pound going knee on belly and unloading strikes. Her submission base is pretty good as well but she’s really methodical in her approach and won’t really risk a dominant position.

From the positives her jiu-jitsu is legit, her judo helps a lot, she has a good fight IQ, and she seems to have good cardio. I have questions about how good her wrestling is. Ricci does strike well to close the distance but it’s not in angles as she walks forward. I can easily see her getting clipped on the way in. Ricci doesn’t look too comfortable when striking at distance. Her head sits still and she throws blind leg kicks. I see a lot of potential in Ricci and I see a lot of Mackenzie Dern in her. If she’s built up slow I think she’s a future ranked strawweight in the UFC.

  • Striking: C
  • Kickboxing: C
  • Clinch: B
  • Wrestling: B
  • Grappling: A
  • Striking Defense: C
  • Takedown Defense: A (?)
  • Cardio: B+
  • Biggest Strength: Jiu-jitsu
  • Biggest Weakness: Striking defense

How she matches up with Fiorot:

Fiorot is an excellent fighter on the feet with a wide array of skills. Fiorot loves to use the sidekick to the gut to set the tone of the fight and keep the fight at her preferred range. She’s an excellent kicker and that may cause opponents to forget about her hands. The fighter from France is an intelligent striker/kickboxer but a killer all in the same sense. Fiorot doesn’t throw with any wasted motion always picking her shots and always using feints perfectly. Ricci will get pieced up by the longer, bigger fighter if she can’t get the takedown. Fiorot herself is a good wrestler and decent grappler but Ricci is on another level. I think it could only take one takedown from Ricci and it’s over. With that said I don’t think her blitzing in the way she does to close the distance will see her fare to well against Fiorot. The pick is Fiorot but Ricci does have a clear path to victory.