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Takedown breakdown: Amanda Ribas’ harai goshi

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How judo black belt Amanda Ribas tossed the credentialed grappler Mackenzie Dern

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Brazil’s Amanda Ribas is poised to become a massive star for the UFC. Beyond her obvious “marketability”, Ribas is showing a ton of promise as a fighter. She’s a swarmer, and demonstrates competence with a lot of tools and weapons that befit a swarmer. She hits the body, she commits to exchanges, and most importantly - she’s a physical and gifted clinch fighter for the division.

For a more complete breakdown on Ribas’ career and game, check out this breakdown from my friend Philippe Pocholle-Marchetti.

This analysis will focus on one example of Ribas in the clinch, the beautiful harai goshi she hit on standout grappler Mackenzie Dern.

Stealing Momentum

Despite some gaps in her striking and wrestling, Mackenzie Dern’s threatening top game makes her a formidable opponent at 115 pounds.

Ribas found success by timing Dern’s wild strikes before attacking with her swarming entries. Dern’s attempts to get the fight to the ground were fairly telegraphed, but the sheer size and hustle from Dern made for a few tricky situations.

Feeling that Dern’s only effective offense was going to come on the lead, Ribas turned up the heat, swarming even more aggressively.

Her form fell apart, Ribas marched forward, tall, swinging in the pocket.

Dern outside slip to bodylock on Ribas

Seeing her opening, Dern hit an outside slip, level changing to shoot double underhooks into a bodylock.

With Ribas’ stance square and her weight coming forward, this was a dire situation. However, quick instincts and fundamentals saw her through.

The judo black belt prioritized her own base and the attacking hands of Dern first, hipping back to create separation, whizzering on the left side, and reaching for the connecting wrist on her right side.

Ribas sets up the harai goshi

The speed in which Ribas cycled through this chain of events was genuinely impressive. She uses the whizzer and wrist control to bring the bodylock higher, which forces Dern to be taller in her stance.

With Dern still pressing forward, it’s a great setup to throw from.

As soon as she feels the bodylock rise up, she switches her feet, keeps the whizzer and uses her free hand to pull the lat of Mackenzie Dern.

Amanda Ribas throws Mackenzie Dern

Ribas uses the whizzer to keep Dern’s hips high and guide the throw, the lat grip to pull Dern forward, and her hips and blocking left leg to act as a barrier for Dern to be thrown over.

VIDEO CLIP: Ribas throws Dern

In context, the sequence leading up to the throw was fairly problematic from both fighters, but it shows the polish Ribas has when the ball is in her court.

Against Page VanZant at UFC 251, this will likely come into play.

When she was a rising 115-pound contender, VanZant did her best work with a high-pace grappling attack, hitting a lot of headlocks and upper body takedown attempts. As her career has progressed, she got away from those pressure tactics and tried her hand as an outfighter. It hasn’t been very effective, aside from the Bec Rawlings knockout.

When VanZant wins fights, it’s usually through scrambling and conditioning, she can take sloppy wrestling sequences and turn them into top control.

Against Ribas, it’s hard to see a path to victory. On the outside, Ribas is both more powerful and more competent as a boxer and kicker. If VanZant does end up clinching and looks to go upper body, she’s likely getting tossed.

It’s the last fight on VanZant’s contract, and it doesn’t seem likely that she’ll be leaving the organization on a high note.