The main card opener for UFC 257 on Fight Island witnesses a women’s strawweight clash between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas. The surging Brazilian stars are both ranked within the top 10 and have plenty to gain from a statement performance. Moreover, there’s plenty of hype surrounding the card as Conor McGregor is placed on the headlining marquee.
The 115-pound women’s division is a cesspool of talent that stretches well past the top 10 divisional combatants. A newer champion in Zhang Weili has sparked excitement amongst the contenders, and it’s a race to the top. Although the upcoming contenders are to be veterans like Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza, there’s plenty of scope for newer talent.
Marina Rodriguez fought once in 2020 and came out on the wrong side of a split decision loss to Carla Esparza. The defeat snapped her run as an unbeaten fighter and she invariably passed over for contention. Additionally, she came off a draw in her second last fight and hasn’t been in the win column since August 2019.
The 33-year-old has crisp striking, and she’s not short on options when it comes to firing on all cylinders. Rodriguez is able to enter into range effectively, however, there’s traditionally been a cardio deficiency in the later rounds. Her last fight saw a marginally diminished output that was likely her downfall in the eyes of the judges.
Amanda Ribas had a breakout year in 2020 and has become a major player in the women’s strawweight division. Ribas is undefeated in the promotion and is currently on a five-fight win streak that extends to May 2016. What’s more, the quality of opponents scalped on her resume is increasingly impressive as she continues on her run.
The 10-1 fighter is fundamentally sound in both the stand-up and the ground game, however, the grappling seemingly shines through. Her last victory over Paige VanZant via a round-one armbar showcased her ability to transition effectively in the pocket. Rodriguez has shown susceptibility to suffering from top control, and this could be her undoing.
Prediction: Amanda Ribas to claim a unanimous decision victory
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