Women’s strawweight action on the UFC 285 early prelims saw Tabatha Ricci take a step up in competition against Jessica Penne.
Penne, a former title challenger in the weight class, had breathed fresh life into her career by going 2-1 across her last three fights, after sitting out multiple years while battling USADA over failed drug tests.
Ricci, who had dropped her short-notice debut up a weight class against Manon Fiorot, was 2-0 since returning to 115lbs.
The pair had originally been scheduled to fight in October, and made up for lost time by getting right at it off the opening bell on Saturday. A determined Tabatha Ricci took the fight down, but couldn’t keep Penne there. “Baby Shark” landed some kicks to the thigh of Penne while she sat back in guard, but soon enough the former title challenger was up.
Ricci would go back to that well several times, looking for takedowns and landing another one about two minutes in. Again, Penne threatened from bottom, and Ricci backed off, landing a few kicks. This time she got back on top, but Penne, undeterred, powered up along the fence. She didn’t stay there long, as Ricci took her right back down.
Brazil’s Ricci would exit the round with three takedowns to her name. That strong performance continued in the second — following some success on the feet, Ricci landed a hip toss with authority. Penne struggled to find an answer, and as much of a threat as she was off the back, she wasn’t able to draw Ricci into any submission attempts.
After chewing up the thighs of Penne some more, Ricci opted to go back to the mat with Penne, and quickly got in position for an arm-bar. With lots of time and lots of torque, she had it — Penne was forced to tap!
Three in a row for @TabathaRicci!!
Baby Shark gets the submission in the second over Jessica Penne 🦈 #UFC285 pic.twitter.com/F8X5ofjuKP
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2023
That’s now three wins in a row for Tabatha Ricci, who continues to improve each time out.
Official Result: Tabatha Ricci def. Jessica Penne by submission (arm-bar), Round 2, 2:14