Tabatha Ricci: “I am always in training camp. This is my lifestyle”

On the main card for the Holm vs. Vieira card, Tabatha Ricci is making her third walk to the octagon as she takes on Polyana Viana. The bout is a women’s strawweight affair and it pits two of Brazil’s submission grapplers at 115 pounds in MMA together. Ricci had a rough start I the UFC when she lost to Manon Fiorot. But she bounced back months later with a decision over Maria Oliveira. She looks to get back her win streak against Viana who is one of the division’s more seasoned fighters.

For Ricci, martial arts has been a part of her life since she was six years old. She began because of her father being a part of this world as well. Carlos Salton was a black belt in judo. It is his lineage in fighting that saw Ricci follow his footsteps.

“My journey in martial arts began at 6 years old when my father, Carlos ‘Trovao’ Salto, introduced me to this world. When I was 15, I began fighting Muay Thai and had a few successful fights with good victories, including the Brazilian Nationals. At 17, I started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I had my first pro MMA fight at 18 in Brazil. This has been my whole life for as long as I can remember! It’s what I love.”

It was her father’s success that inspires Tabatha Ricci and she’s worked to make him proud ever since.

“My dad has always been my inspiration, he’s my hero and I look up to him so much! I always want to make him proud. If it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have started in the amazing world of martial arts and he is a constant motivator to be the best that I can be.”

Despite being a very skilled Jiu Jitsu player, which has many of MMA’s fans attention, Ricci says that her main hurdle into switching to mixed martial arts has been the melding the sports she mentioned above together. But she also believes this is a blessing as well and let’s her fight more freely.

“I have always trained in many different martial arts so I think the hardest thing for me is trying to be ready for all of them at the same level. On one hand, this definitely opens my game up tremendously and is a huge plus to have in my arsenal, however it is sometimes tough to generate the time to stay on top of each one.”

Tabatha Ricci and the UFC run

Tabatha Ricci made her debut in the UFC at only 5-0. She took on Manon Fiorot at flyweight on short notice while her primary weight class has been ten pounds lighter at 115. It was her first time fighting at 125 and she was handed her first loss as a professional mixed martial artist. Despite that, she’s actually inspired by her loss and looks to improve her fight game.

“It was upsetting but humbling at the same time. I knew going into the fight that there was a chance of it not turning out the way I wanted it to since it was a last minute call and a weight class above what I’m used to. However, regardless of anything, I am happy I took that fight – I learned a lot. I am blessed to be able to do this at this stage so any opportunity to enter the octagon will be met with the same passion and determination!”

Despite that loss, Tabatha Ricci bounced back and notched her first win in the UFC. The took the decision win over Maria Oliveira and for Ricci, it was a all she could have hoped for. That win lit another fire under her that made her desire to fight and win that much more.

“It was a dream come true,” Ricci said. “I’ve dreamt of having my hand raised in that octagon my whole life so actually living it is simply incredible. It also definitely fueled a hunger for more! I can’t wait to get back in there.”

Going forward, her goals aren’t to be champion in the UFC, although that would be nice. Instead, she’s looking to inspire those the same way she has been inspired. She’s out to prove that it’s hard work you can accomplish all of your goals.

“My biggest goal in UFC and martial arts in general is to inspire the new generation to follow their dreams. I am proof that it doesn’t matter where you come from if you work hard and never give up you can achieve anything.”

But, her focus now is on Polyana Viana at UFC Vegas 55. Her training is constant and she’s become one with the art of war. “It’s been crazy like always, but the best kind of crazy. I am always in training camp. This is my lifestyle and I love it. I feel ready and excited for May 21st.”

Lastly, Tabatha Ricci calls her shot. Nicknamed “Baby Shark,” Ricci uses a familiar line from Jaws to describe what a fight with Viena will be like come fight day. “They can expect a lot of action and a fun fight. Polyana is a great fighter and I respect her work but on May 21st she’s gonna need a bigger boat!”

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Blaine Henry

Just your friendly neighborhood fight fan!

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