Kicking off the main card at the Etihad Arena, Rodriguez pulled off an upset with a stunning second-round TKO of her fellow Brazilian – but it was a fight she had to finish twice after an apparent mix-up from Dean.
Rodriguez floored Ribas with a big right hand 30 seconds into the second round, following up with a ground-and-pound barrage which looked enough to end proceedings.
Referee Dean stepped in and appeared to call off the action – or at least that’s what Rodriguez thought as she wheeled away in celebration, albeit with Ribas still clinging to her leg.
As a dazed Ribas staggered to her feet, Dean indicated to a surprised Rodriguez that her night’s work wasn’t done.
The underdog then stepped in to land a nasty elbow and another big right hand on Ribas, leading to Dean waving off the fight for real.
Fans were left confused and angry by the awkward conclusion in Abu Dhabi, laying the blame firmly at Dean’s door for the scenes.
The defeat for Ribas was her first inside the UFC octagon, and snapped a four-fight win streak which many had tipped as leading to a potential title shot for the popular 27-year-old. It was also only Ribas’s second defeat in 12 professional bouts.
For the impressive Rodriguez it was a return to the win column after a defeat and a draw in her past two outings, and moved her overall record to 13 wins, 1 defeat and two draws.