27 Mar

Fight card, odds, start time, live stream

Rose Namajunas is looking to rejuvenate her career in a new division. She’ll have to pass a difficult grappling test if she wants to enter title contention at flyweight first when Namajunas battles Amanda Ribas on Saturday night from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Ribas (13-4) knows a thing or two about moving weight classes. She is ranked No. 7 and No. 8 in the women’s strawweight and flyweight divisions, respectively, one of the very few fighters ranked by the UFC in two divisions. Ribas has more experience than her opponent at 115 pounds and that’s a good thing. She’ll want every advantage she can find in her first UFC main event against her first former champion. Ribas has bounced between wins and losses over the last seven fights, but Saturday marks a chance to break the habit.

“It’s crazy because my fights are always like this,” Ribas told CBS Sports. “It’s good because I always make a war. It’s not just pitter-patter. It’s always fighting with emotions. I was trying to get better at that because sometimes I think with my heart. I need to fight smarter, to think with my brain and listen to my coaches.”

Check out the full interview with Amanda Ribas below.

Namajunas (12-6) fell short in her flyweight debut against Manon Fiorot in Paris last fall. It was a surprising move up considering Namajunas was coming off a split decision loss to Carla Esparza for the UFC women’s strawweight championship. It was an appalling performance from both fighters, but Namajunas was still very much near the top of the pecking order. Recent back-to-back wins against current champ Zhang Weili kept her at the top end of the 115-pound weight class. It seems, however, that her path forward is at flyweight. Namajunas admits she rushed the Fiorot but believes her frame and framework are now better tuned.

“I think I could have maybe taken a little more time,” Namajunas told CBS Sports. “Now I feel like my body is more filled in and a little more dense.

“Even stylistically, I’m a little more grounded with some of my footwork. I think there was a phase where I moved around a lot. I’m still going to do a lot of moving, but when it’s time to sit down on a punch, it will be more grounded. I think that helps more defensively too so I’m not just jumping into something or running into something.”

Check out the full interview with Rose Namajunas below.

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

Amanda Ribas vs. Rose Namajunas: The biggest X factor in this fight is the absence of renowned coach Trevor Wittman in Namajunas’ corner. Namajunas did not have Wittman for her failed flyweight debut. She said it was circumstantial at that time, but Namajunas informed CBS Sports that she’ll fight once again without Wittman with no confirmation that they’d reunite. Wittman’s void was enough for people to reconsider betting on Namajunas. A vocal portion of the online blamed Namajunas’ fiancee and cornerman Pat Barry for her panned title loss against Esparza, crediting Wittman as the voice of reason among her coaches.

Even without Wittman, I think Namajunas is too steep a challenge for Ribas. Namajunas has been competing against the best strawweights in the world for a long time. Ribas hasn’t come close to that level of competition. Ribas won’t have the size advantage that other flyweights have on Namajunas, nor the elite wrestling required to overwhelm her. I expect Ribas to get picked apart at range. I need to see how Namajunas’ power translates up a weight class but the fact that Ribas has been stopped by strikes in 75% of her losses gives me some confidence in the finish. Namajunas via TKO3

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