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UFC’s Amanda Ribas looks to bounce back away from spotlight

It took awhile for Amanda Ribas’ to really process her first UFC loss.

She wasn’t going to waste a perfectly nice trip to Abu Dhabi, where the organization had hoped to continue to build her star power by having her kick off the main card of a Conor McGregor-headlined pay-per-view event in January.

So despite suffering the setback in a knockout loss to Marina Rodriguez, Ribas enjoyed the unique experience by sampling the cuisine and the nightlife for the rest of the week while rarely being spotted without her trademark smile.

Then the 27-year-old had to fly back to Brazil.

“When I came home, I saw my mom and I started to cry,” Ribas said Wednesday ahead of her return to the cage against Angela Hill on the 5 p.m. UFC on ESPN 24 main card at the Apex.“I really cried a lot.”

The Main card bouts start at 5 p.m. with the preliminary card streaming live on ESPN-Plus at 2.

Her mom comforted her by reminding Ribas that even though it was her first UFC loss, she had suffered countless defeats as someone who had competed in martial arts since she was very young and the only way she could ease the pain was by going back out and winning again.

That’s what Ribas hopes to do on Saturday.

“After that, I was just like, ‘OK let’s go,’” she said. “For some stupid mistake, I (hesitated). I think, not just in fights, but in life, you can’t stop. But I stopped, and she threw the perfect punch. So I learned this, and now I’m more active with more energy because I really want this fight.”

As painful as the loss was, it may actually serve Ribas well in the long run. Her contagious personality combined with four consecutive wins over high-profile opponents had hype building around her at an unsustainable level.

There is far less of a spotlight on her this time around as she will step back into the cage in the opener of an ESPN main card instead of all the eyes and attention directed her way on the McGregor card.

Ribas believes all the accolades will return if she handles her business.

“I don’t think about any of that,” she said. “I have to do my job and the consequences and rewards will come. I need to fight well, get better at my english and my diet and my training. Then, the results will come to me.”

Ribas did say it was important for her to get back in the cage as soon as possible after that January loss to start that process. Hill presented a good opportunity with many of the other top fighters in the division already scheduled for other fights.

She may not have to look far for her next opponent either as Rodriguez is headlining Saturday’s card against Michelle Waterson. Ribas would certainly like a rematch at some point.

For now, she’s focused on Hill. Then she will stay around Las Vegas for an extra week and try to enjoy the rest of the trip.

“I’ll definitely be looking for restaurants,” she said. “If anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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