A pivotal 115-pound matchup is in the works for the UFC’s final pay-per-view event of the year.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that a fight between Carla Esparza and Amanda Ribas is being targeted for UFC 256. The event is scheduled to take place Dec. 12 with a location yet to be officially announced. Per multiple sources, verbal agreements are in place with bout agreements expected to be signed soon.
After dropping back-to-back fights in 2018 to Claudia Gadelha and Tatiana Suarez, Esparza has won her past four bouts. “The Cookie Monster” has picked up victories over Virna Jandiroba, Alexa Grasso, Michelle Waterson and, most recently, Marina Rodriguez to put herself back in the strawweight title picture. Esparza became the inaugural 115-pound champion after defeating Rose Namajunas at the TUF 20 Finale in December 2012.
Ribas has won her previous five fights, four of which took place in the UFC. The 26-year-old’s octagon resume includes a submission win over Emily Whitmire, as well as dominant decision wins over Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos. But it was Ribas’ most recent victory, a first-round submission of Paige VanZant, that really put her on the map. After the victory, she called for a fight with the winner of the July bout between Esparza and Rodriguez, and it looks like she’ll get her wish.
UFC 256 is expected to be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, along with a women’s featherweight championship bout in the co-main event between two-division champ Amanda Nunes and Megan Anderson.