UFC Vegas 89: ‘Ribas Vs Namajunas’ Predictions

THUGS not DRUGS.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 89 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow night (Sat., March 23, 2024) on ESPN and ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a 125-pound main event between Top 10 flyweight contender Amanda Ribas and former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, a five-round headliner with major title implications for late 2024 and beyond.

Before we dive into the main and co-main event, which includes the 265-pound scrap between heavyweight hurters Karl Williams and Justin Tafa, checkout Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 89 “Prelims” card by clicking here and here. Get all the latest “Ribas vs. Namajunas” odds and betting props courtesy of DraftKings right here. For the rest of tomorrow night’s UFC Vegas 89 main card predictions click here.

125 lbs.: Amanda Ribas vs. Rose Namajunas

Amanda Ribas

Record: 12-4 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +180
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’3“ | Reach: 66” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.92 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.33 | Striking Defense: 63%
Takedown Average: 1.99 (51% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 87%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Luana Pinheiro

“Thug” Rose Namajunas

Record: 11-6 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -220
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’5“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.68 | Striking accuracy: 40%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.53 | Striking Defense: 62%
Takedown Average: 1.49 (48% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 60%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Manon Fiorot

Rose Namajunas has been competing under the UFC banner for nearly a decade and has somehow managed to remain an enigma. Every time “Thug” steps into the Octagon it’s like choosing a mystery chocolate from Whitman’s Sampler. Sometimes you get something amazing, other times you get complete garbage — and every now and again you get something in between. Her final fight at strawweight resulted in a decision loss to longtime rival Carla Esparza in what is widely considered the worst fight of 2022. Most of us expected “Thug” to stick around after Zhang Weili reclaimed the division crown, but Namajunas bailed on their trilogy in favor of greener (and heavier) pastures at 125 pounds. Her flyweight debut against Manon Fiorot was an underwhelming affair, hampered by a broken finger early in the fight, but that still doesn’t excuse her maddening inconsistency over the last several years.

“After the Manon fight, I had to heal my pinky and that happened, but as soon as the fight was over I was like, ‘Man, that was so close. I could’ve won that fight if it was a little different here and there,’” Namajunas said during the UFC Vegas 89 media day (watch it here). “Whatever. Would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. I just had that taste of, ‘Man,’ I usually get down on myself after a loss, but it just motivated me so much more.”

The end result was a unanimous decision loss at UFC Paris back in Sept. 2023.

“I knew after the fight I wanted to get right back in there, but I had to heal my pinky and I had some personal stuff to figure out,” Namajunas continued. “It took me a little bit to kind of get those things in order, but as soon as I was ready, I was looking for a fight. I got offered a little earlier for this fight, but I wasn’t ready, but then I got offered March 23, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’”

Like her “Fight Night” opponent, Amanda Ribas has oscillated between world beater and lame duck, alternating wins and losses across her last six fights (3-3) dating back to summer 2020. The Brazilian is also a former strawweight who looked like the next big thing at 115 pounds after handing Mackenzie Dern her first loss inside the Octagon. Unfortunately, Dern failed to live up to the hype and similarly, those wins Ribas notched over Paige VanZant and Randa Markos have aged like cream cheese. Equally concerning is her 1-2 record at flyweight, which includes a technical knockout loss to Maycee Barber at UFC Jacksonville. What Ribas lacks in defense she makes up for in aggression, which is probably not the best style against a striker like Namajunas — assuming “Thug” can find second gear.

“I’m prepared for all, to do five rounds to the end or the beginning. I’m training to do a war and do a really good fight for the fans to enjoy and say this is worth being a main event,” Ribas said during the UFC Vegas 89 media day (watch it here). “I always put in my mind that I will fight the best Rose Namajunas ever. I’m training for the best in her. If something comes not like this, I’m prepared.”

She might be training for the best Rose Namajunas ever, but there’s no guarantee that’s who will step into the cage on fight night. “Thug” has battled demons throughout her career, will not be cornered by longtime coach Trevor Wittman — for the second straight fight — and has been led astray by her boyfriend Pat Barry.

Those are his words, not mine.

“Go back to any of Rose’s performances that didn’t seem quite right. It was me. I was the outside distraction,” Barry told The MMA Hour. “Any performance. I’m not talking about just fighting. Any interview that seemed off and weird, any post on social media, it was my f**king fault. So I said, I’m not doing that no more. She should ‘ve been world champ two years ago. It was me. I didn’t know it was me, but it was me.”

Yikes.

Based on the pre-fight interviews I’ve seen up until this point, Namajunas appears to be in a good place both physically and mentally. The loss of Wittman is unquestionably a red flag, but I do think she has enough tools to defeat Ribas, who probably should have stayed at strawweight. As I alluded to earlier, this all depends on the output of Namajunas. If she shows up ready to fight and looks to engage, don’t expect this contest to be decided by the judges.

Prediction: Namajunas def. Ribas by technical knockout

265 lbs.: Karl Williams vs. Justin Tafa

Karl Williams

Record: 9-1 | Age: 34 | Betting line: -185
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.93 | Striking accuracy: 49%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.80 | Striking Defense: 62%
Takedown Average: 4.00 (46% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Chase Sherman

Justin “Bad Man” Tafa

Record: 7-3, 1 NC | Age: 30 | Betting line: +155
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.13 | Striking accuracy: 55%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 5.93 | Striking Defense: 49%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout win over Austen Lane

Justin Tafa is stepping in for his brother Junior Tafa at UFC Vegas 89, who stepped in for Justin at UFC 298. So basically they switched opponents (and events) and no doubt the Australian “Bad Man” will look to avoid his brother’s fate. “The Juggernaut” was stopped by Marcos Rogerio de Lima in the second round of the “Volkanovski vs. Topuria” his pay-per-view (PPV) contest just last month.

“It’s just like old times back at the playground,” Tafa said at the UFC Vegas 89 media day. “Sometimes I’m not ready to fight, so my brother goes and steps in and fights for me. We were really confident that my brother could have put de Lima away. I’ve seen my brother knock out Top 10 heavyweight boxers — after going out on a bender. He can knock anyone out on any given night. We weren’t planning on him not taking this fight. When we went back to Australia, we saw the severity of his injury and I told him I’ll go and check myself and if they say I’m ready, I could be ready by fight night. I’ll take the fight and do a solid for him.”

The elder Tafa does not have much to offer in terms of diversity and that’s reflected in his record. All seven wins have come by way of knockout, so don’t expect any flying armbars or gogoplatas. At just six feet tall with a 74-inch reach, Tafa is not particularly large for a heavyweight but he certainly hits like one, leading to three straight first-round finishes dating back to late 2021. I wish there was more to dissect here but let’s face it, Tafa is not far removed from the bar fight scene and just shows up, swings for the fences, and hopes for the best. It’s not the most technical gameplan but it certainly sits well with the audience.

Every self-respecting MMA fan loves a one-hitter quitter.

Karl Williams is also one dimensional and that’s being kind. The 34 year-old American Top Team (ATT) product captured a UFC contract by defeating Jimmy Lawson on Dana White’s “Contender Series” in late 2022, then scored consecutive decision victories over Lukasz Brzeski (UFC Las Vegas) and Chase Sherman (UFC Charlotte). I don’t remember either of those fights and I doubt anyone else does either (including Williams). According to his biography on Waged War, Williams is a former UFC lightweight champion and “one of the most accomplished MMA fighters in history.” I’m assuming that was written by AI but I still found it hilarious.

Anyway, Williams placed fourth in the state as a high school wrestler and at one point was seriously considering making a run at the U.S. Olympic team. Instead, the former collegiate football player gravitated toward fighting, getting his start back in 2018. It’s fair to say that Williams will be shooting in any potential matchup, which explains his above-average takedown percentage, but even more so against Tafa. Williams was able to get away with the standup against Sherman, a game he would be reckless to play with Tafa.

That’s pretty much what this fight boils down to. Williams will have to survive 15 minutes without taking anything significant to the dome. Certainly possible with his wrestling pedigree, but every fight starts on the feet. I just think the chin-checking “Bad Man” will have Williams spooked from the opening bell, which means sloppy, pat-a-cake defense followed by long-distance panic wrestling. This could get ugly — even for heavyweights.

Prediction: Tafa def. Williams by knockout

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UFC Vegas 89 main card predictions RIGHT HERE.



LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 89 On ESPN+

FLYWEIGHT FISTICUFFS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to its APEX venue in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., March 16, 2024, with a titanic tilt between Australian power puncher and master of the Shoey, Tai Tuivasa (14-6), and longtime 265-pound keeper of gates, Marcin Tybura (24-8), across five rounds of heavyweight action. In UFC Vegas 88’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, Tar Heel “Butcher” Bryan Battle (10-2) looks to win his third straight at the expense of Congo “Ninja” Ange Loosa (10-3) in a high-stakes Welterweight scrap.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!


MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 89 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 89 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the updated and finalized “Ribas vs. Namajunas” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ line up click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *