UFC strawweight contender Amanda Ribas talks moving up to flyweight to face Katlyn Chookagian at UFC Vegas 54 on Saturday and breaks down the fight with Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole.
KEVIN IOLE: Hey folks, I am Kevin Iole, welcome to Yahoo Sports. And my guest right now, one of the more popular UFC fighters, she has taken a huge risk in her next fight. She is the number nine ranked strawweight fighter in the world, and she's going up against the number one contender at flyweight, Katlyn Chookagian, and of course, I'm talking about Amanda Ribas. Amanda, how are you?
AMANDA RIBAS: Hello, I'm good. Thank you to inviting me to talk here, I'm really happy. And when you talk, Amanda and is star, and say, I don't know what more-- I was like. [SQUEALS]
KEVIN IOLE: Well, I know you were supposed to fight Michelle Waterson, and that fight fell out a couple of times. And all of a sudden, you get into this fight with Katlyn Chookagian. Now you have fought at 125 before, but you've been competing at 115. What do you think of-- that's a huge jump for you going up, up in weight and up the ranks to fight a contender. What was your thought when they brought that opponent to you?
AMANDA RIBAS: Yes, yes, it's a huge step for me. And I was a little sad when they tell me Michelle was hurt, and it was like, oh my goodness, I am seven months without a fight, and everybody in my weight division has a fight. And my coaches, and my dad, my manager talk with the UFC that I can fight in Mountain 5' 2. So after that they offer me Katlyn and I accepted. I grab this opportunity, this huge opportunity with my hands, my arms, my legs, with everything that I have, because I want to do my best.
KEVIN IOLE: I meant, I was saying, you had that unfortunate incident which you saw a couple of years ago where you lost two years of your career, even though you did nothing wrong and you were absolved from any blame there. And so I guess that leads to this question, how important is it for you to be active? Even taking on a fight against the top contender in another division, rather than sitting out and just kind of wasting seven months like you mentioned.
AMANDA RIBAS: I think if we stop or we take a long time without fight, we stopping the life. My life is fight, it's my job, so I need to be active because if I don't do that, another girls are doing, they're getting better and their ranking getting better in the fight, because training is really different than competition. It should train to competition, not just train, and each compete. So for me, it's really important to compete.
KEVIN IOLE: And the one thing you're doing, you know you're 11 and 2, so you've been doing really well in most of your fights, but when you're jumping back and forth in divisions, that kind of hurt you, rankings wise, right? Have you made a commitment to either division or are you going to just say, OK, I'm going to move to 25 and stay there and go after Valentina. Or I'm going to go back to 115 and go after Carla, have you made that choice to try to make it easier for you?
AMANDA RIBAS: I think everything depends on the result of this fight. Of course, my original weight class is 115, but if I do really good, really well in this fight, I will put my energy in 125.
KEVIN IOLE: What is your take on Katlyn, I mean, she has been really successful, except for her Valentina fights, since she fought Valentina she's won three in a row. And she seems to be pretty dominant and actually adding to her game, how do you break this fight down?
AMANDA RIBAS: I think I need to find my distance and don't let her enjoy the fight. Because I think all fighters when enjoy the fight, it's a huge fighter. So I can let her enjoy the fight and each put my distance, my game, so me enjoy the fight.
KEVIN IOLE: When you were coming off your loss to Marina Rodriguez, you know, I know you were very confident going into that fight. Did that shake your confidence at all? The fact that she was able to finish or did you just kind of chalk it up as one of the things that happens in MMA?
AMANDA RIBAS: No, no, because like this, I'm in the competition, I'm fighting some child, so I know how to lose, I know how to win too. Because there is some fighters, I think art martial, like MMA, judo, jujitsu, we learn how to win and how to lose. So for me, it's something that happened, I don't like-- I hate to lose, so for me is a thing that I need to learn with my mistakes.
KEVIN IOLE: I know you come from a family of fighters, your father's a legendary trainer and a fighter, and your brother fights, right? I mean, does that help you having other people in the family like, you come from that background. Does it help your attitude in being able to not get too high or not get too low?
AMANDA RIBAS: Yes, for sure. I think having my fight family, fighter's family is good because I know how to work the game. I know how is the might of the fighter, not just a woman fighter, but the coach fighter, the man's fighter, the miniature fighters. So for me, is I'm feeling in my home, because.
KEVIN IOLE: Now some people would say having a father who was such a highly regarded coach as your father is, that puts pressure on you to a certain degree, right? Because he's going to expect more out of you than he expects out of anybody else, right? How do you deal with that? And what is the relationship like now that you're the star UFC fighter, does that kind of put him in the background, how does that work?
AMANDA RIBAS: When I were young, I feel a lot of pressure on this because the daughter of the coach so need to be good, can't lose. But now I'm not too relaxed, but my dad is like, Amanda, you're in the UFC, Amanda, look what you did. So for him, is like this, for me, no.
I want to be a champion and I don't see like it's his job. I don't see him like just my coach, I see like my job, so if he is my dad and my coach, OK, I don't see I don't care about that. I care about my career, my profession, and I need to be good. I don't think about my coach is my dad, no. But when I were young, I also think a lot.
KEVIN IOLE: Now, you started in judo, right, and then you went into BJJ. And I guess, maybe I'm wrong, but I thought in Brazil it kind of was the opposite, right? Normally they would start in BJJ and then, if they wanted to add judo, how come you started it in judo? What was the rationale to start you in judo before jujitsu?
AMANDA RIBAS: No, I started in jiujitsu and then I go to judo.
KEVIN IOLE: Judo, OK.
AMANDA RIBAS: Yeah, I started doing jujitsu and then I stopped to fight, because I think like the pressure, and I was always being a young lady and I started to dance. And then I saw my friends all competing jiujitsu and [? Trevin ?] and I asked to my dad, hey dad, can I come back to jiujitsu? And he said, just if you start with judo, because you need to know how to do takedowns. And me, ay, no, I don't like judo. And then I started just because of jiujitsu, and the judo getting in my heart, because I love.
KEVIN IOLE: Now having that element in your game where obviously, judo, there's throws and takedowns and whatnot, how much has that improved you as a fighter overall?
AMANDA RIBAS: I think with judo that helped me with takedowns, for sure, but with pace. And with training, the judoka, the fighter of judo trainer a lot, a lot, a lot. And there is a really base-- [SPEAKING PORTUGUESE] Balance, balance, there is a lot of balance. So that helped me a lot and keeps me strong.
KEVIN IOLE: Do you feel like you still, do you use a lot of the judo in your fights? Or is it just a threat of the judo that helps you? The threat, the fact that they know you can take them down, does that make a difference that they know you have those takedowns?
AMANDA RIBAS: I think everybody when these scary to do something, open-- opportunity to the people do another things. Like if I am scary to her take me down, will open opportunity to drop punch. And after that taking down, I believe on that, so for sure, judo helped me with this.
KEVIN IOLE: Awesome, yeah, that's amazing. Now I want to ask you, what was your take on the title fight the other day between Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas? A lot of people are criticizing the fight, it was boring, it was this and that. When you watched it as a fighter, did you see opportunity? Did you say, hey, I could beat those women.
AMANDA RIBAS: You know what I see, what I saw? I saw two really good fighters that had the strategy here. And they getting out-- they didn't want getting out their strategy. And in my mind, I'm thinking the strategy of Rose is to wait Carla to try and get her down to drop punch. And the strategy that Carla is wait Rose, throw a punch to hurt, take her down. So both are waiting, I think happened that, because-- yeah.
KEVIN IOLE: Now if you're going to compete at 125, the great Valentina Shevchenko is the champion, and she has looked virtually unbeatable. When you look at her, I mean, what do you see like, do you see the best fighter in the world? What do you see when you look at Valentina Shevchenko?
AMANDA RIBAS: I see a really good fighter, and she's smart, she's strong, but nobody is unstoppable. Everybody makes mistakes and some days there is the fighter, maybe one day, they fire in the eye of some fighter will take her belt.
KEVIN IOLE: Now I guess everybody was really shocked, some people were saying Amanda Nunes was unbeatable, until she lost to Julianna Peña last year. Do you see any specific weakness in Valentina that maybe hasn't been exploited yet? Or do you think it's just sort of like, hey, the other person is going to have to raise their game on the night they fight her to defeat Valentina.
AMANDA RIBAS: No, I'm not thinking too much in Valentina, I just think Katlyn, because I need to pass her to get or Valentina or Taila. So now is the blonde girl that I think is just Katlyn, Katlyn, Katlyn, Katlyn.
KEVIN IOLE: Yeah, not the champ. How do you see the fight going then, like what is it going to be the style of this fight? Because she's versatile like you are, right? And she has a lot of versatility to her game, so how do you see the fight going?
AMANDA RIBAS: I think she knows how to defend takedowns, and I think she will throw a lot of punches and get out. And I really want to see the end of this fight with my hands to the top, 'cause I'm training a lot for this.
KEVIN IOLE: Now let's end it right here, you know, Roxanne Modafferi had just recently retired. She's one of the more popular fighters and beloved fighters by a lot of people. She was known as the Happy Warrior, that seems like maybe a nickname that could go to you, because you seem like you love nothing more than being in fights and talking about fights, right? It seems like that's your love. Do you really have a great passion for that?
AMANDA RIBAS: Yes, I love. And I really believe if we put our best vibe in whatever-- our best energy in whatever we do, this vibe come back. And I like to come here, sometimes, I am tired, but it's so good to see you people, you as a reporter, interested on me. This is amazing, it makes me happy, because look the people, him is interested in my job. So I'm doing a great job and I will do a great job doing interviews and talking about myself, so I like that.
KEVIN IOLE: Well, keep winning those fights and everybody's going to keep talking to you. Amanda Ribas, but we really appreciate you. On Saturday at Apex, she will be fighting Katlyn Chookagian, which should be a fantastic fight. Best of luck, Amanda, thank you for your time.
AMANDA RIBAS: Thank you, bye-bye.
KEVIN IOLE: Bye.