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Cleared to return, Amanda Ribas explains why USADA suspension was ‘a gift from God’

Brazilian strawweight Amanda Ribas hasn't fought since May of 2016.
Photo via Amanda Ribas

Two years later, Amanda Ribas will finally enter the Octagon to compete.

The Brazilian strawweight prospect signed with the UFC to fight Juliana Lima at TUF 25 Finale on July 7, 2017, in Las Vegas, but was removed from the card due to a potential anti-doping violation. A day later, Ribas released a statement denying ever using illegal substances and vowing to prove her innocence. Ribas eventually agreed to a two-year suspension, saying at the time that it “hurt so bad” to accept it.

It took a long time, almost the full 24-month period of her suspension, but the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced earlier this month that Ribas’ suspension had been terminated. Ribas was one of the few fighters banned for trace amounts of ostarine and recently cleared after USADA determined it to be consistent with supplement contamination.

The UFC quickly booked her return for June 29, matching the Brazilian up against Emily Whitmire at UFC Minneapolis. Ribas, who was allowed to competed in jiu-jitsu and grappling tournaments during her USADA suspension, feels “thrilled” to finally make her Octagon debut.

”I was very upset at first because I’m a clean fighter,” Ribas told MMA Fighting. “I competed in an Olympic sport, judo, so I was always clean. I was training at American Top Team when they told me I had failed a doping test, and that was scary because I always did everything right, so where could that come from? I tested some supplements I was using, but having everything tested is very expensive, so I just accepted the punishment. I was upset in the beginning, but kept training.”

After the suspension, Ribas returned from Florida to her hometown Varginha, but was constantly visiting other cities in Brazil for more training experience. She was always in town wherever the UFC put on a card in Brazil, and feels that it helped her get ready for her first bout since May of 2016.

”I’m way more experienced now compared to when I signed with the UFC,” Ribas said. “I used to the environment and the pressure that exists in the UFC. It’s completely different now. My head is prepared for this.”

In the end, even though the suspension forced her out of the game for almost two years, Ribas chooses to see the glass half full.

”I really don’t look it that way,” Ribas said when asked if she felt frustrated with the whole situation. “I see it as a gift from God because now I know how experienced I am compared to when I signed with them. Who knows, maybe if I fought back then I would get nervous and not fight the way I can. I think these months got me more mature for this.”

The one thing Ribas changed in her life after the USADA case was stop using supplements, but admits it’s not easy.

”Athletes need supplements, especially when we start cutting weight,” Ribas said. “It’s hard to get everything you need only through food, it’s hard for your body to absorb everything before you get back to training again, but I’m trying. I got rid of all chocolate in my life [laughs], but that’s it. If it was that easy everyone would be a champion.”

Ribas’ first test in the UFC, Whitmire, is coming off victories over Jamie Moyle and Aleksandra Albu. It was her first winning streak since joining the promotion after being part of The Ultimate Fighter 26. For Ribas, “Spitfire” is a “great opponent” for her debut in the eight-sided cage.

“I like the fact that she’s coming off two wins,” Ribas said. “That’s great for me, to fight someone who is climbing the division. If I want to become the best, I have to beat the best. I love that she’s my next opponent. We both like to go to the ground to grapple, so that’s how I think this fight might play out, but anything can happen.”

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