Amanda Ribas in Talks to Fight Michelle Waterson in UFC 257 Bout

Amanda Ribas is thisclose to returning to the Octagon…

The UFC is close to finalizing a strawweight bout between the 27-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and Michelle Waterson for UFC 257, according to multiple sources.

Amanda Ribas

The UFC 257 pay-per-view event is the first on the company’s 2021 schedule. The promotion hasn’t announced a location for the event or a main event, although UFC president Dana White has said the event is earmarked for Conor McGregor‘s return to the Octagon against Dustin Poirier.

Ribas (10-1) is one of the most promising prospects in the division. She is undefeated since signing with the UFC last year, and has taken out the likes of Emily WhitmireMackenzie DernRanda Markos and Paige VanZant. She finished VanZant with a first-round armbar at UFC 251 in July.

Waterson (18-8) is one of the most established names of the strawweight division, with a 6-4 record in the UFC dating back to 2015. The former Invicta FC champion was knocking on the door of title contention in 2019 before she suffered back-to-back decision losses to former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza. Fighting out of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Waterson has since rebounded from the two-fight skid with a win over Angela Hill.

Esparza Dominates Rose Namajunas to Win Inaugural UFC Strawweight Title

Carla Esparza has earned a place in Ultimate Fighting Championship history…

The 27-year-old Latina mixed martial artist won the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship on Friday, submitting Rose Namajunas via rear-naked choke at 1:26 of the third round.

Carla Esparza

The 115-pound title fight headlined the TUF 20 Finale inside The Palms Hotel and Casino.

Esparza (10-2) entered the tournament shortly after vacating the Invicta FC Strawweight Championship title, which she won in a unanimous decision over Bec Rawlings in January 2013.

“Oh my gosh, this is the most amazing, unreal feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” said Esparza after her win. “You know, Rose is such a phenomenal athlete. She’s so dangerous and has so many weapons. I knew it was going to be a tough fight. She caught me with a lot of things I didn’t see coming. In the end, I think wrestling brought me the win.”

Despite her history in the division, Esparza entered the fight as a slight underdog to Namajunas (2-2), who had received a lot of attention for her finishing ability.

It was Namajunas who got off to a hot start, sprinting to the center of the cage the second the fight started and connecting on a high head kick less than a minute in. Esparza ate the shot, however, and drove into Namajunas with a takedown — which would prove to be a theme throughout the contest.

Esparza was unable to keep Namajunas on her back initially, but her efforts to take her to the floor didn’t go unrewarded. According to Fightmetric, Esparza converted five of seven total takedown attempts and outlanded Namajunas in total strikes 109 to 27. Most of her offense took place on the floor.

Esparza now holds three official wins over TUF 20 house members. She defeated Angela Hill, Tecia Torres and Jessica Penne during the tournament, although those wins don’t count toward her official record. Fighting out of Team Oyama in Irvine, California, she dedicated the win to Shane del Rosario, a teammate who unexpectedly died in 2013.