Luck can play a huge factor in an athlete’s career. Talent, skills, dedication, professionalism, certainly matter more than anything. But your future can take a different path with a flip of a coin.
Luckily for Amanda Ribas, several crossroads drove her to UFC stardom.
Born in August 1993, Ribas’ destiny was set in stone almost from the crib. The daughter of martial arts trainer Marcelo Ribas—at the time of Amanda’s birth, Marcelo already had more than 40 Vale Tudo bouts under his belt—Amanda was raised inside a gym. Marcelo signed her up for jiu-jitsu classes at a young age, and she was clearly talented.
One day, Amanda quit training to take dance classes with her friends. Dad didn’t take it lightly when she returned to the gym one year later: He signed the 12-year-old kid up for judo classes and gave her a first taste of what MMA was all about.
“Amanda had some fights in the gym,” Marcelo says. “We didn’t give it a name, but it really was amateur MMA bouts. I don’t think she knows it, but she fought twice when she was 12 or something. My son [Arthur Ribas] did his first amateur fights when he was 9. That’s crazy, huh? I guess I already saw something back then.”
Two knee surgeries ruined Amanda’s hopes to one day represent Brazil in the Olympic Games as a judoka, and her father once again saw MMA as a possible career path. The 21-year-old enjoyed training in her family’s martial arts gym in Varginha – a small town popular for UFO sightings back in 1996 – and decided it was time to give MMA an official try in 2014.
Ribas won her first amateur MMA bout that year. She later accompanied her teammates in a trip to Rio de Janeiro that would change her life.