UFC strawweight contenders will meet when Katyln Chookagian and Amanda Ribas step into the octagon this saturday. Chookiagian, who fought for the world title just two years ago, has comfortably and consistently re-established herself at the top of the food chain just under the champion. In her own words, contenders have to get through her if they want a title shot and she has and will continue to knock them backwards until she gets her second chance. Since fighting Valentina Shevchenko in 2020, Chookagian has picked off Valentina’s elder sister, Antonia Shevchenko, as well as Cynthia Calvillo, Viviane Araujo and Jennifer Maia, with a lone loss to Jessica Andrade who has since left the division.
However it seems she will have to win at least one more before a championship bout materializes, and it may be her biggest test yet, as Surging star Amanda Ribas gets ready to state her own case as the next contender in a new weight class. Over her 13 fight career, Ribas has fought both at 115lbs and 125lbs, but after a 5-1 run in the UFC, one of which in the heavier division, it seems the Brazilian will return and make it her home. Along the way, Ribas has picked up massive victories over Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos, Paige Vanzant and most recently Virna Jandiroba. The Judo black belt has shown both her submission game and strikes can spell victory at any point in time.
Chookagian enters this weekend as the betting favorite at odds of -180 on BetUS.
- Chookagian: -180
- Ribas: +150
Katlyn Chookagian is an extremely well-rounded individual as she both relies on a smart technical striking game and a very traditional Brazilian jiu jitsu game that offers little holes for criticism. On the feet her greatest attribute is her length, she holds a distinctive reach advantage over most women at 125lbs, and she utilizes kicks and jabs from afar to maintain a level of safety while still stinging her opponents. Although usually on the backfoot more than not, she has excellent octagon awareness and tends to stay off of the cage, her stance is long and she bends over lead leg so as to stretch to her target and lean away as they try to counter. Her jab and straight right are her main tools, on top of her teep and leg kicks.
However, another noticeable detail about Chookagian, is that although she does not over-extend or over-commit to strikes, and this is a positive in avoiding her opponents slipping beneath and taking advantage of her off balance, her lack of commitment does materialize in a lack of power. Her record is littered mostly with decisions and the reason is that although she stings her opponents and often outland them, by comparison to her fellow contenders, she doesn’t land with much power. She typically does not commit her hips to her strikes or rotate through. Her ability to gain respect is largely tagging and moving away and if her opponent does insist on pouring on the pressure, Chookagian will clinch up and look to finish outside trips and takedowns to then implement her solid jiu jitsu. On the mat, she doesn’t usually blend her grappling with much ground and pound, instead pressing tight and looking to knee cut through half guard into side control and overall demonstrates an extremely sound class game. Likewise, with her knock of finishing ability on the feet, she doesn’t often find submission success, but her ability to consistently control and out position her opponents force them to think about how much pressure they can pour on in fear of the takedown.
Yet, Amanda Ribas possesses a tool that may help her immensely in this department. Ribas in particular in the division has some of the best judo. Her takedowns from the outside may be somewhat lacking but in the clinch, her whizzer kicks, head and arm throws and outside trips are deadly. Her base is also so solid that often those looking for sacrifice throws or drags tend to end up on the bottom anyway. Even those who can take Ribas down have difficulty as she rarely settles, and throws up armbars and triangles with quickness off of her back. On top she usually goes to the can opener in order to pass the guard. Her ground and pound is not the most effective, it’s more a tool used to pass position rather than to do any extensive damage but it’s the submission threat on the ground that her opponent needs to worry about.
Standing, Ribas fights in a Muay Thai stance. She has good power and diversity in her strikes, but the real power comes from her kicks and right cross. She is accurate, and she likes to throw in punches, lean away to the right angle to avoid the counter and then come back with a missile of a right hand. The major knock on her striking, and the hole that costs her most is that while she is always fainting and faking with her hands, it leaves a lot of space where a tight guard maybe should be. Inside her combinations, crisp strikers like Marina Rodriguez have seized opportunities where her chin is exposed. However, against Chookagian, it’s difficult to say that Chookagian will have enough power on her shots to completely dissuade Ribas’ pressure especially because Ribas has so much confidence in her ability to counter takedowns. In terms of reach, although Chookagian will enjoy an extra 2 inches, Ribas’ use of spinning back kicks and head kicks make her equally as dangerous as Chookagian is skillful at range.
I believe this fight is Ribas; to win. She has all the tools needed to counter the style of Chookagian in her grappling and striking but she has to consistently keep pressure on Chookagian while minimizing the holes in her defense. As long as she stays composed and does not become overzealous in her movement and feints and keeps her chin protected, I think she can break the gap and hurt Chookagian.
Prediction: Amanda Ribas to win via stoppage
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.