Amanda Ribas Beats Paige VanZant via 1st-Round Submission at UFC 251

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2020

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: In this handout image provided by UFC, Amanda Ribas of Brazil celebrates after her victory over Paige VanZant in their flyweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Amanda Ribas scored a first-round armbar submission at 2:21 over Paige VanZant to kick off the UFC 251 card from du Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the UFC's new Fight Island complex.

Ribas scored an early takedown and gained side control over VanZant, who soon tapped.

This is a landmark win for Ribas as it marks her first fight on a UFC pay-per-view. Serving as the first fight on the main card with three title fights, there's a good chance this is the highest number of people who have ever seen her fight. She now moves to 4-0 in the UFC.

It also marks her first win as a featherweight. She had previously competed exclusively at 115 pounds but expects to be a competitor in both divisions as she would like to replicate the success of current women's MMA superstar Amanda Nunes.

"First, I want to win this fight," Ribas told Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting. "And then I want to fight a top-10, a top-five (opponent), and then the belt will come, if God wants. And down the line, after getting to the belt, I will want another belt, so I don't settle. I think this fight will be very good for me."

If she's in the flyweight division to stay, the current top five includes Nina Ansaroff, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Tatiana Suarez, Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade. Any one of them would easily be her toughest test to date.

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As for VanZant, there's a possibility this is the final time UFC fans see her in the Octagon. This was the last fight on her contract, and she's already made it clear she plans on testing free agency.

"I just feel like a regular extension isn't what I want, and I want to prove my worth and my value—and I want a brand-new contract," VanZant told Ariel Helwani of ESPN. "And I'm really excited to get that opportunity and really test the free agency, because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it amongst all the other sharks?"

VanZant has not turned out to be the elite fighter that she was hyped to be when she came into the UFC at 20 years old in 2014. However, she does bring crossover appeal, as she has appeared on Dancing With the Stars as well as Chopped.

Her value to the company is interesting moving forward. She has a sizable following on social media and is obviously marketable, but she is now just 1-3 in her last four fights. If she's looking for more money, the organization might not be willing to shell out the extra cash for someone who simply isn't winning.