Two of the UFC’s rising flyweights will clash on ESPN this weekend. Tracy Cortez, an alumnus of the Contender Series and a former Invicta fighter, meets her greatest challenge yet in #9 ranked Amanda Ribas. After losing her pro debut to Cheri Muraski in 2017, Cortez, an Arizona native, has won all 10 of her following fights, putting her on a wicked unbeaten streak, including four in the UFC.
However, Ribas has the definitive advantage in higher-level competition, having already beaten Virna Jandiroba, Paige Vanzant, and Mackenzie Dern during her time with the promotion. While she only has 14 pro fights, this number is deceiving as already held the IMMAF world championship in amateur MMA prior and grew up training under her father before competing on Brazil’s national judo team as a youth.
Oddsmakers appear to have difficulty calling this one, as both women will have negative odds, Cortez at -105 and Ribas -121.
Tracy Cortez brings a lot to the table in terms of martial arts skills. On the feet she is light on her toes and moves in and out well. She also has sharp hands most notably a solid 3-2 or left hook to right cross as she comes in, and a very slick left body kick often sets it up. However, when she has faced competition with a greater reach she has been tagged, getting her guard cut right down the middle. Although Ribas does not hold a significant reach advantage on paper, compared to Cortez who stays relatively centered as she boxes, Ribas is known for whipping her punches out and stretching through to accentuate her range.
As good as her striking is getting, Cortez’s main weapon of choice is her wrestling. In her last few fights she has become well known for her ability to neutralize jiu jitsu on top, deny submissions and win with dominant control and ground and pound. Her best takedowns are reactive shots to the hips as her opponents move forward, and her explosive double leg is one of the best. She is confident enough in her submission defense that often you will see her work from inside the guard with a wide base, loaded hips and able to posture and fire down heavy shots. It’s often that she will be caught in the initial setups of armbars but so far every time she has looked to elevate, stack or slip out she has been successful, which in turns presents her the opportunity to stack pass and end up inside control or on the back.
Amanda Ribas is one inch shorter with one inch higher reach, so nothing that sticks out too much, but as mentioned before she uses her reach to the greatest extent. She stands in a stance closer to traditional muay thai than some of her UFC peers but does stay light on her feet. She is constantly feinting which hides her beautiful counter shots, specifically her lean back right straight. In terms of striking what she holds over Cortez is her utilization of reach plus her kicks, she has a nice spinning back kick as well as brutal head kicks.
Cortez’s wrestling chops will be put to the test with Ribas, a black belt in both jiu jitsu and Judo. While Cortez may find success ducking under pressure and landing on the hips, if she cannot and finds herself rising into the clinch, Ribas is a master at hitting judo throws and whizzer kicks as wrestling counters. On her back she immediately incites scrambles and does not settle so expect a battle for top position. Compared to Cortez, Ribas is less aggressive with her ground and pound on top but does have nice passes and quicker submissions.
I believe that Ribas will have a definitive advantage on the feet, just because while they are similar in technical skill level, I think Ribas will be able to tag Cortez on the end of her shots and cause more damage when she does than vice versa. When it hits the mat, I expect it to be Cortez shooting and Ribas reacting, which will dictate top position and whoever wins this exchange ends up with a massive advantage. While it’s difficult to say who comes out on top more than not, I lean towards Ribas as we have seen her execute on a higher level of competition and if the grappling is negated wins on the feet.
Prediction: Amanda Ribas to win (bet now at MyBookie)