Tabatha Ricci turned to her wrestling to score multiple takedowns on Polyana Viana to ultimately win a unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 55.
Time after time, Ricci swooped inside and brought Viana crashing down to the canvas, which is where the majority of the fight took place. While it wasn’t the most exciting display, Ricci remained in control for most of the fight with Viana stuck playing defense off her back.
The judges gave Ricci the fight with 29-28 scores across the board.
“I didn’t really know what she was going to do,” Ricci said about Viana’s game plan. “I was just practicing on defending.
“I’d like to be back as soon as possible. I really trust me in the UFC, so what they give to me I will be happy with it.”
It was Viana acting as the aggressor early on with a strong kicking game before pulling guard with a guillotine choke attempt on two different occasions. While Viana couldn’t hold onto the submission, she then transitioned into a very active guard game from the bottom while Ricci almost looked lost on top without inflicting any significant damage.
Back on the feet in the second round, Viana was consistently landing better strikes as she used good distance to keep Ricci on the end of her punches. She also launched a well-timed spinning back elbow that clipped Ricci, which certainly got her attention.
Ricci did manage to score multiple takedowns, which was arguably her best offense, but she was also struggling to really put Viana in harm’s way on the ground. That said, Viana’s inability to stop Ricci’s wrestling wasn’t putting her in the best position to win either.
For all the craftiness that Viana continued to show off her back, Ricci was still putting her down repeatedly and then making the choice to back out of the position to stand up again. The fight came to a close with Ricci content to kick away at the legs while Viana was just stuck defending her position as time finally expired.
It seems the time Viana spent on her back with Ricci putting her down several times was the difference in the battle of Brazilian strawweights. Ricci is now 7-1 in her career with back-to-back wins in the UFC following a loss to flyweight contender Manon Fiorot in her debut.