Amanda Ribas' path toward title contention at 115 pounds hit a serious roadblock on Saturday at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. Despite entering as a heavy favorite in this pay-per-view main card bout between top-10 women's strawweights, Ribas (10-2) suffered her first loss in five UFC appearances when she was stopped via second-round TKO by fellow Brazilian Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2).
Ribas entered the fight with plenty of hype and momentum thanks to her first-round stoppage of Paige VanZant at flyweight last July. The 27-year-old Ribas, a fighter largely beloved due to her joyful personality, saw the tide turn quickly after controlling the opening round on the ground.
Rodriguez, 33, caught Ribas with a right cross to the chin that dropped her awkwardly. Ribas continued to eat punches as Rodriguez delivered a series of right hands on the ground as referee Herb Dean appeared close to stopping it.
But as Dean hovered over, Rodriguez stood up and began celebrating prematurely before Dean actually stopped the fight. Rodriguez briefly turned her back on the action before realizing what happened. She ran across the cage to deliver a standing clinch on a still hurt Ribas.
"I saw that I was finishing the fight, she wasn't moving and the ref came in with his arms open then I moved away," Rodriguez said after the fight. "I didn't need to hit her anymore, but when I looked around, there were different screams in the crowd, nobody was coming in so I had to go back in there and finish her again.
"I knew I needed to hit her more in the second round and when I landed some punches, I saw that she was shook and that she really felt it, so I knew that's what I needed to do to get the finish."
A short elbow and a pair of flush right hands followed from Rodriguez forced Dean to stop the fight at 54 seconds while both were still standing.
"Guys, now you know who I am!" an excited Rodriguez said.
Not only was Rodriguez a +260 betting underdog coming in, the odds were +1200 she would score a knockout. She improved to 4-1-1 since making her UFC debut in 2018, fresh off a TKO victory on the "Dana White Contender Series."
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including instant analysis from UFC 257 below.