UFC women’s flyweight contender Katlyn Chookagian has revealed how surprised she was by Amanda Ribas’ decision to accept their upcoming fight.
On tonight’s UFC Vegas 54 card, headlined by top-five light heavyweights Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakić, Chookagian will look to continue her charge towards a second title shot.
Since falling short against dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko, “Blonde Fighter” has gone 4-1, falling only to former strawweight champion Jéssica Andrade. During her active three-fight win streak, which has cemented her status as the #1-ranked flyweight, Chookagian has defeated Cynthia Calvillo, Viviane Araújo, and Jennifer Maia.
Interestingly, despite her place on the 125-pound ladder, the 33-year-old’s next bout will come against a divisional newcomer. On Saturday’s main card, Chookagian will share the cage with Ribas.
Despite returning to 115 pounds following a successful flyweight debut against Paige VanZant in 2020, Ribas has decided to once again test the waters at 125 pounds. Given that she’s facing the #1 contender in the weight class, those waters look set to be choppy.
Chookagian herself has now admitted her surprise at the matchup. During UFC Vegas 54 media day on Wednesday, the former title challenger said that as well as being taken aback by the offer, she was even more shocked to hear that the Brazilian had accepted it.
“I was super surprised they asked me if I wanted to fight Amanda Ribas,” said Chookagian. “I was like, ‘Wait, at what weight class? At 125?’ Because I didn’t know she was — I didn’t hear anything about her wanting to move up, so I was a little shocked. I was like, ‘Yeah, definitely.’
“And I was like, ‘She’s probably not gonna say yes.’ Then they came back like, ‘Oh, she said yes.’ So I was like, ‘Wait, why did she say yes to me?’ I was like, ‘Ew.’ But yeah, I’m excited.”
Despite her surprise, Chookagian went on to detail why she thinks the matchup, which she branded a “win-win” for her opponent, makes sense for #9-ranked strawweight Ribas.
“To me, it makes sense. Coming from a different division, you fight someone that’s ranked super high, you get a good win, and you probably get talks about a title shot,” said Chookagian. “So, it’s kind of a win-win situation for her. But yeah, I’m excited. I’ll fight anyone. I don’t really care.”
On the flip side, given her proximity to the title and her run of wins in the division, fans would perhaps be forgiven for suggesting that the matchup doesn’t make much sense for Chookagian.
But for “Blonde Fighter,” the motto is ‘anyone, anywhere.’
Chookagian Not Fazed By Unranked Ribas: I Don’t Think Rankings Mean Much
When asked whether she was at all hesitant when the bout agreement was slid across the table by the UFC, Chookagian said that she targets fresh opponents, no matter their placement in the rankings, which she doesn’t believe to be as important as they used to be.
Chookagian also hopes that a precedent has been set with the matchup, meaning that if she ventures to bantamweight down the line, she’d be granted a similar high-ranked opponent straight out the gate.
“I don’t really worry about anyone else’s career, except for mine. I think it’s cool ’cause I’m like, ‘Ooh, wait, if I go to 135, will I get the number one contender and then get a title shot?’ But yeah, I don’t care,” added Chookagian. “I like fighting people that I haven’t fought before. I just need to keep winning. I don’t think the rankings, especially now, I don’t think they mean as much as they used to.”
How do you think the fight between Katlyn Chookagian and Amanda Ribas will play out at UFC Vegas 54?