Welcome to the UFC: Maria Oliveira

Maria Oliveira and Kanna Asakura, RIZIN
Kanna Asakura vs Maria Oliveira (left) Credit: RIZIN FF

The UFC is back at the Apex this Saturday, with two former middleweight title challengers topping UFC Vegas 41. Marvin Vettori was all set to take on Paulo Costa at 185lbs in the main event, until Costa showed up to Fight Week heavy. That resulted in a catchweight of 195lbs being agreed to, only for that to fall through, and light heavyweight being the final play. While there are plenty of vets on the card, UFC Vegas 41 has a few prospects making their octagon debut as well. The lone female newcomer is Maria Oliveira, who will take on Tabatha Ricci looking for her first UFC win.

Maria “Neta” Oliveira
Standing at 5’6″
Fighting at 115 lbs (strawweight)
Fighting out of Sao Joao de Meriti, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Training out of Paraná Vale Tudo
A pro record of 12-4
7 KO/TKOs, 1 Submission

How will Oliveira fare in the UFC:

Oliveira is someone I haven’t been impressed with at all. She should’ve been on the Contender Series this season instead of going straight to the UFC (it’s worth noting she lost her 2018 DWCS appearance, albeit against Marina Rodriguez).

What she does do well is fight long, and she has good Muay Thai. She even scores takedowns from time to time, but really has no ground game. On the feet, she has the range but is so flat-footed she has problems finding her rhythm. I haven’t seen anything from her to suggest she’s UFC level. Her takedown defense is an issue, her grappling lacks especially off her back, and where she’s strongest, on the feet, she’s doesn’t do anything that stands out.

  • Striking: C+
  • Kickboxing: C+
  • Clinch: B-
  • Wrestling: C+
  • Grappling: C
  • Striking Defense: C+
  • Takedown Defense: C
  • Cardio: B

How she matches up with Ricci:

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. If Ricci can get Oliveira down I believe she submits her.

Ricci doesn’t have great wrestling yet and is at a size disadvantage in this fight. Oliveira is five inches taller and boasts seven-inch reach advantage. That alone is a big concern for Ricci. I just don’t think Oliveira is a good enough striker to give Ricci as much trouble as she should. I’m taking Ricci because she should be able to close the distance and even on the feet her pressure could win her minutes.