Top-fifteen Brazilian strawweights Luana Pinheiro and Amanda Ribas faced off at UFC Vegas 82 from the UFC Apex on Saturday night.
Ribas was once 4-0 in the UFC, but has traded losses and wins every fight since then to fall to 6-3. Though that is still a respectable record which has her ranked at both strawweight and flyweight, at thirty years old Ribas needs to stack a winning streak together starting now in order to get to a title fight. She could do that at either 115 or 125-lbs potentially, but in this fight she moved back down in weight after her recent loss to Maycee Barber at flyweight. On the other hand, Pinheiro sat where Ribas did in 2020, undefeated in the UFC with tons of momentum and the number nine next to her name. She had not lost since 2017 as a matter of fact, but Ribas took exception to that and walked out of the Apex with a win at the end of the night.
Both women started the fight swinging but especially Pinheiro, who landed on Ribas early and hurt her. Ribas retreated and the onslaught eventually stopped, giving her time to recover. Pinheiro still landed wild hooks every time that she let her hands go, as Amanda’s head was always on the center line. The pace slowed and Pinheiro picked her spots judiciously as she began to mix in leg kicks and avoiding the little offensive output that Ribas provided. Just past halfway through the round Ribas had a moment when she landed three good punches that stunned Luana momentarily, but Pinheiro recovered and got back to her gameplan. Her footwork and head movement was on point and Ribas could hardly land a glove on her most of the time. Ribas failed a takedown with one minute left but otherwise the same dynamic played out for the rest of the round.
The second round began with Ribas pressing forward again and Pinheiro evading, but this time Luana had far fewer moments where she dealt major damage to Ribas. Ribas added kicks to her attack and it served to deal damage when she could not reach with her hands. Pinheiro even attempted a takedown of her own with two minutes left as she began to slow down. She got in on a single leg but Ribas pushed her off and threw up a head kick that just missed as Pinheiro stood up. Amanda began to find success with her hands at last but then Pinheiro began to open up with hers again somewhat. Still, when the round ended it was certainly one that went to Amanda Ribas, who defended one last takedown right before the horn.
The final round in a presumably tied-up fight saw Pinheiro fight for momentum early, coming forward with punches more and throwing kicks of her own. The pace and volume of Ribas clearly still troubled her, but her defense allowed her to stay safe for the most part. Pinheiro failed another takedown but this time landed a knee on the break to score damage. One sequence saw Ribas land a backfist, eat a hook, and get thrown by Pinheiro. She bounced back to her feet but Pinheiro jumped on a front headlock, then try to take the back before settling in full guard. Luana pushed Ribas up against the fence but Amanda seemed more interested in striking off her back. However when she began to lock up an omoplata submission and Pinheiro was forced to withdraw, Ribas got back to her feet. There, she continued her relentless volume assault.
Pinheiro’s fatigue meant her defense had broken down completely and she ate every strike thrown at her, including a spinning wheel kick. Eventually she could not take it any longer and fell to her back, exhausted and badly hurt. The referee stopped the fight after only a few ground strikes to a semi-conscious Pinheiro.
Amanda Ribas showed at UFC Vegas 82 why she has won so many fights against good fighters, once again displaying true veteran grit and will to win. Despite being outclassed early on, she doubled down on her offense and just went forward harder until she broke her opponent. She will surely be in the running for a performance bonus at the end of the night, and can look ahead in the rankings to plan her assault on the throne now with a win back at strawweight.
Official Result: Amanda Ribas def. Luana Pinheiro by TKO (punches), Round 3, 3:53