Strawweight contender Michelle Waterson has been forced out of her upcoming fight against Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 scheduled to take place on Jan. 23.
Details surrounding Waterson’s withdrawal are not public at this time but the former Invicta FC champion will be unable to compete in January as previously scheduled. Waterson was looking to build on a victory over Angela Hill in her last outing as the strawweight headlined a UFC Fight Night card in September while also earning Fight of the Night honors. “The Karate Hottie” was then booked in the fight against Ribas, who remains undefeated in the UFC including a win in her most recent performance against Paige VanZant.
Ribas now is expected to face Marina Rodriguez after Michelle Waterson had to pull out of the matchup. MMA Junkie confirmed the changes through sources with knowledge of the situation after Ag Fight reported the Waterson fallout and MMA Fighting reported the Rodriguez matchup.
Ribas (10-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) is looking for a strong start in 2021 after going 2-0 in the UFC in both 2019 and 2020, defeating Randa Markos and Paige VanZant this year. Ribas (10-1) is one of the top women’s strawweight prospects in the division and is close to breaking into the top-five at 115lbs. The 27-year-old Brazilian joined the UFC in 2019 and has since won all four of her fights in the Octagon. After defeating Emily Whitmire by stoppage in her UFC debut last June, Ribas then picked up a big upset win over Mckenzie Dern. She then defeated Randa Markos before picking up a submission win over Paige VanZant at UFC 251 in a women’s flyweight bout. Unfortunately, her return down to 115lbs will have to wait due now.
Rodriguez (12-1-2 MMA, 2-1-2 UFC), for her part, is looking to right the ship after losing to Carla Esparza and fighting to a draw against Cynthia Calvillo.
This is now the second canceled opponent for Ribas, who was set to face Carla Esparza this Saturday (Dec. 12, 2020) at UFC 256 before “Cookie Monster” bowed out of the fight for undisclosed reasons. With over five weeks left until fight night, UFC matchmakers have ample time to find a replacement for the 125-pound standout.
UFC 257 will feature the highly-anticipated return of former UFC “champ-champ,” Conor McGregor, who will face former interim Lightweight king, Dustin Poirier, in a rematch six years in the making. The location for the event has not yet been announced.
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