UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. Ribas Event Predictions – UFC Vegas 89

‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas returns for her second UFC flyweight bout at UFC Vegas 89, where she faces WMMA veteran Amanda Ribas. The card features a plethora of young talent and potential future-ranked fighters vying for their chance to steal the limelight.

With these predictions, I’m only going to remark on fights where I can discern habits, skills, or traits of the fighters involved. It’s all guesswork, but I’m minimizing predictions where I don’t know the fighters involved.

UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. Ribas Predictions

Rose Namajunas vs. Amanda Ribas Prediction

A key take away here is that Namajunas won’t be having Trevor Wittman coaching in her corner. Wittman has been a cheat code for many fighters including Kamaru Usman and Justin Gaethje, it’s safe to say he’s a valuable asset to have in your corner. Instead, Namajunas will have her coach-turned-husband Pat Barry, who has had a terrible record of cornering ‘Thug’, including in her last fight against Manon Fiorot.

Amanda Ribas uncorked a spinning wheel kick to finish Luana Pinheiro in her last fight. Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Post-championship Namajunas has been characterised by a lack of activity, urgency, and danger — she lost her title to Esparza due to inactivity, and gave away the fight with Fiorot for the same reason. I think she very easily realizes a three-fight losing streak at the hands of Ribas this weekend, as the Brazilian slugger shows urgency and remains dangerous for the whole 15 minutes.

(Pick – Ribas, Risky)

Karl Williams vs. Justin Tafa Prediction

I think this fight is all Karl Williams as long as he can survive the hands of Justin Tafa. Williams is a rare breed of heavyweight who can grapple the full duration of the fight, he’s huge, and strong enough to impose his will on his opponents. Nobody is ever safe on the feet against a Tafa brother, but he’s recovering from his last botched fight at UFC 298 (injury), and this will be his second fight camp of the year (wear & tear).

Tafa has a chance on the feet, but I see Williams making it an ugly position-dominated grappling affair for the full 15.

(Pick – Williams)

Edmen Shahbazyan vs. AJ Dobson Prediction

AJ Dobson is a bit of an anomaly in the UFC – a good kickboxer without the grappling to keep fights standing. Dobson suffers the most with his activity, he’s given up fights before now simply because he never stood on the gas. Shahbazyan, for all of his losses, remains dangerous in all areas except his gas tank. Because of his flaws, I don’t believe Dobson has what it takes to push Shahbazyan into deep waters and deplete his cardio, allowing “The Golden Boy” to return to form.

(Pick – Shahbazyan)

Payton Talbott vs. Cameron Saaiman Prediction

Payton Talbott looks great, but Cameron Saaiman is a good-name opponent and a marked step-up in competition. Since it’s Talbott’s first stiff test in the UFC, I’m going to favour Saaiman for the upset.

(Pick – Saaiman)

Billy Quarantillo vs. Youssef Zalal Prediction

Zalal’s coming in on short notice with something to prove. The Moroccan fighter is making his second stint in the UFC after a tough four-fight skid in 2020-21. Zalal fought, back to back, Ilia Topuria, Seung Woo Choi, Sean Woodson, and Da’Mon Blackshear, which is an incredibly tough line-up. He doesn’t get any breaks with Quarantillo.

Youssef Zalal gave future champion Ilia Topuria a tough fight at UFC Fight Island, Photo:  Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

I like Quarantillo’s chances here, but after going life-and-death with fighters like Damon Jackson and Alexander Hernandez, he could be lining up for a shock loss against a young, hungry finisher in Zalal. I pick Zalal for the mild upset.

(Pick – Zalal)

Mohamad Usman vs. Mick Parkin Prediction

In my opinion this is the end of the line for Mohamad Usman. “The Motor” was originally intended to fight Chris Barnett, a striker not known for his grappling. Usman is a gritty heavyweight who uses his size and strength to lay and pray on his opponents for ugly decision victories. His replacement opponent, Mick Parkin, is a training partner of interim champion Tom Aspinall, and should prove a harder challenge than Barnett.

Parkin, while not being too impressive in his last fight, combines a decent pace with above-average heavyweight grappling. I see Parkin refusing the physicality of Usman and either outstriking him on the feet or controlling him on the ground for a pretty ugly decision.

(Pick- Parkin)

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