Amanda Ribas slated for UFC 256 return against the former champion Carla Esparza

Amanda Ribas
Image via @amandaribasufc (photographer not listed)

A fascinating women’s strawweight clash is reportedly being primed for UFC 256 with No. 7 contender Carla Esparza set to take on No. 12-ranked Amanda Ribas.

According to MMA Fighting, the UFC is looking to book this one for their final numbered event of the year which is confirmed for December 12. The card does not currently have any fights confirmed and the location is yet to be revealed. Although, it’s widely believed that the event will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns or a featherweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson, with both fights likely to be made official soon.

Esparza vs. Ribas is a fight that’s been on the cards for a while and it could have massive implications for the division. Esparza is riding a four-fight winning streak and has the distinction of being the first-ever strawweight champion in the UFC. She won the belt by submitting the current No. 1 contender Rosa Namajunas in the third round back in 2014.

Ribas is a rising star in the UFC and has won all four of her fights since arriving in the promotion. Her last showing was an emphatic first-round submission victory over Paige VanZant at UFC 251. VanZant subsequently departed for BKFC following that loss, and Ribas proceeded to call her shot against the winner of Esparza’s fight with Marina Rodriguez later in the month. With Esparza coming out on top in that one, the former champ has welcomed the challenge of the Brazilian.

Coveting a fight with Esparza seems an astute pick by Ribas. Having dispatched several big names including Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and of course VanZant, she has seen her popularity skyrocket in a short space of time.

“UFC doesn’t want just a fighter,” Ribas said in an interview with SCMP MMA. “They want someone who knows how to fight and knows how to sell the fight.

“I want Carla Esparza because she was the first female champion in the UFC in my weight division. And she’s really good, she’s tough her wrestling is really tight so I want to fight against her because she’s ranked seventh and it will be a really great fight for me. Now my manager is talking to them to see the contract and what day and if she wants to so I just need to train, wait and be prepared.”

Ribas just turned 27 and looks to be on the right trajectory to achieve great things in the division. With a keen eye on her contemporaries, she listed Esparza as someone she enjoys watching.

“I like to watch Valentina, Amanda Nunes, Carla Esparza, Joanna, the champ, I like a lot of girls in fighting because we put our heart. Sometimes I think the girls forget the technique and just ‘argh!’ (throws punches) so this is good you know? Because maybe when it’s just ‘strategy, strategy’ it’s a boring fight. But when you mix strategy with heart, it’s a great fight.”

Given her current form, the ATT star looks to have everything she needs to mix it with the best of them.

Will she come out on top against Carla Esparza?