Esteban Ribovics wins on Dana White's Contender Series: Season 6, Week 4 (Zuffa LLC)

UFC 290 goes down this weekend for International Fight Week at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and we have a number of bangers to start us off on the prelims, including a sure-to-be war at lightweight between Kamuel Kirk and Esteban Ribovics.

Both fighters are coming off a loss in their most recent bouts and will undoubtedly be looking for a statement win this weekend to get the buzz around them stirring again. As Ribovics prepares for his third fight at 155 lbs in the UFC, his opponent, Kamuela Kirk, will make his promotional debut in the weight class.

Both fighters have well-rounded skill sets that give them the ability to be competitive against most fighters at the UFC level and I’m looking forward to seeing how these two have continued to grow – especially coming off definitive losses where they surely found new areas to train and improve.

If you’re looking to bet on the fights this weekend, head over to BetUS using our special link and make the most of the special $2,500 sign-up bonus offer.

Betting Odds

The odds for this one currently favor Ribovics, but plus money on the much longer fighter in Kirk should give betters pause before running with the favorite here:

  • Esteban Ribovics: -190 (BetUS)
  • Kamuela Kirk: +155 (BetUS)

Special Offer: Sign up to BetUS today and get an exclusive sign-up offer worth up to $2,500

Fight Breakdown

The lightweight Argentinian prospect, Esteban Ribovics, holds a pro record of 11-1, with his last fight resulting in his only loss. Ribovics is a high-pace fighter with good power in both hands and solid grappling ability. He’ll switch stances very often and utilize this to throw combos from either orthodox or southpaw, but capable of throwing powerful strikes from either position.

His biggest struggle is the takedown defense; in his fight with Loik Radzhabov, he was taken down 11 times over the course of 15 minutes. Though this time on his back cost him the fight in the end, he showed a great ability to work his way back to the feet. The best way he does this is by attacking the Kimura sweep to either achieve top position, get back to his feet, or transition to another submission.

He has effective kicks to the calf, though they are under-utilized as he hasn’t thrown them too often. His striking can be wild at times with his thirst for violence and willingness to put himself into the fire to land his own shots, but he needs to utilize more head movement and hand defense to keep himself from getting countered with the right hand so much.

His overall pace and pressure, along with a motor and power that carries across all three rounds, he is a hard fighter to last the entire 15 minutes against, as he proved against Radzhabov, whom he hurt at the end of round 2 and 3 after high-paced action through the early parts of the rounds.

Originally from Hawaii but training out of Arizona, ‘The Jawaiian’ Kamuela Kirk is 29 years old and 11-5 in his pro MMA career. A majority of his time in the octagon has been spent at 145 lbs, but he’ll be making his lightweight debut this weekend against Ribovics. Kirk uses long, rangy striking as he is often the bigger man with a 75” reach. He uses a Conor-like stance and movement to float out of range after his opponents try to close the range and cause a big exchange in tight.

He has fast, powerful kicks that he’ll use throughout the fight but they aren’t thrown often. He has a nasty straight right hand that he’ll switch up the timing on and throw from different angles which allows him to land it effectively over and over, even if his opponent becomes aware of it and tries to defend. His pace is slow and methodical as he looks to keep the fight at a comfortably long distance for him to work his straight shots that he lands where his opponent cannot.

His problems come when he isn’t able to dictate this pace. He seems to gas when he’s pressured over the course of the round and by round two, he looks much slower than his opponent. Like Esteban, he has a tendency to keep his chin high and on the centerline while he throws and this often leaves him open to well-timed counters.

His grappling is another area that he excels in; he’s fluid in transitions when in top control and attacks submissions often through these scrambles while keeping good pressure on his opponent to keep them underneath him. He has a very slick triangle when he’s on his back as well; he doesn’t have to slowly set it up, he’s fast enough and flexible enough to throw his legs into position and latch up the choke quickly.


This is going to be a battle of pace control between Kirk and Ribovics. Kirk loves to slow the fight down and read his opponent to either snag a takedown or hit them from range with his kicks, ones and twos. Ribovics loves to push the pace of the fight and make his opponent uncomfortable in tight exchanges where he’s able to land his powerful punches.

On the ground, Kirk looks to be the more well-rounded fighter and could find his most success from keeping top control, being aware of the Kimura sweep, and attacking submissions of his own. Ribovics sacrifices defense for openings to land strikes, but good timing can give Kirk the ability to hit first and thwart the advancement of Ribovics.

For Esteban, he needs to keep the fight in Kirk’s face and make him fight in the pocket where Ribovics works best. Given the resiliency of Ribovics and his constant pressure, I think this is going to be a tough test for Kirk. Kamuela will need to show that he’s capable of hanging through all three rounds and can win against a guy with a gas tank like Ribovics. To do this, he’ll need to work his kicks and mix them in with the punches more to give Esteban as many things to worry about as possible. Takedowns will need to be utilized to try and drain the motor of Ribovics while keeping top control and scoring points in the grappling department.

When it comes down to predicting the outcome, I’m leaning toward Ribovics in this matchup. It’s much easier when you’re the pressure fighter and are facing a guy who’s never fought in this weight division in the UFC and hasn’t shown the capability of pushing a high pace for 15 minutes. Kirk has power in his hands and is dangerous with his submissions, but Esteban has great sweeps from the bottom and can get to his feet if Kirk does work takedowns.

If Kirk tries to keep the slow pace he has shown in his previous fights, he’s going to get uncomfortable very quickly with the pressure and power he’s going to see from Esteban over all three rounds. We’ve seen Billy Q push this pace into round 3, and Kirk couldn’t hang in to the bell; I’m looking for body shots throughout from Ribovics to really slow Kirk down before he starts swarming with flurries and power. I like the odds for Ribovics to get it done by KO on Saturday.

Best Bet: Ribovics by KO (-145)

Special Offer: Sign up to BetUS today and get an exclusive sign-up offer worth up to $2,500

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *