MMA: Sara McMann

Who can challenge Ronda Rousey?

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto

LAS VEGAS -- Referee Herb Dean didn't end UFC 170 early. Ronda Rousey did.

Say what you want about Dean’s decision to stop Saturday’s title fight in the first round, awarding Rousey the first knockout of her career. Given the stakes involved, he probably could have given Sara McMann more opportunity to recover, sure.

But don’t ignore reality, either. Liver shots end fights -- in fact, good ones often look more debilitating than strikes to the head. McMann never argued the stoppage forcefully and it’s quite possible she would not have recovered anyway.
[+] EnlargeRonda Rousey
Al Powers for ESPNWhen it comes to the women of MMA, there's Ronda Rousey -- then everyone else.

The venom directed at Dean’s stoppage was, perhaps, due somewhat to the fight in general. For all the talk about Olympians and judo vs. wrestling and undefeated records, the main event was a 66-second blowout. Complete blowout.

Fans of the still relatively new UFC women’s division might not have known exactly what they expected to see on Saturday, but a first-inning, run-rule situation that lasted about a minute wasn't it.

McMann was supposed to be the greatest challenge yet to Rousey’s career. She went out with a whimper, thanks to a very effective but visually uninspiring body shot. A quick knee to the midsection and that’s it? The mountain is climbed? Weak.

That perspective unfairly diminishes the level of skill and preparation that really went into Rousey’s finish, but unfortunately, it's bound to exist after a fight like that: Yes, Rousey is amazing, but I’d sure like to see her in a real fight.

As much as Rousey has seemingly enjoyed her one-sided career, she admits that just three years in, she’s already forced to search for (and at times, create) challenges for herself.

“I keep trying to top myself,” said Rousey, two days before fighting McMann. “It’s hard to keep creative and say, ‘What can I do that is better than the last thing?’”

The UFC’s bottom line is unlikely to struggle when Rousey headlines, blowout or not. Consumers of combat sports have long shown a willingness to tune into less-competitive fights, as long as marquee names are involved.

Rousey, however, seems like a champion who wishes to be challenged. Currently, only a handful of 135-pound females appear even slightly capable of providing one.

Cat Zingano was supposed to fight Rousey last year, but suffered a serious knee injury in May. UFC president Dana White has said Zingano will fight for the belt when she’s healthy, but no firm date for her return exists.

Interest in a fight between Rousey and Invicta FC featherweight champion Cristiane Justino, aka “Cyborg,” is certain to amplify this year. Justino recently announced her intent to drop to 135 pounds and “retire” Rousey by December.

On Saturday, White, who accused Justino of being on performance-enhancing drugs one week ago, said she would have to drop to bantamweight and fight outside the UFC before ever receiving that opportunity.

The simple question of whether Justino would be licensed to fight at 135 pounds remains an interesting one. In 2012, she and her manager at the time, former UFC champion Tito Ortiz, said cutting to that weight puts her health at risk.

“That’s extremely relevant, it’s an admission by the fighter,” said Francisco Aguilar, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “If she made that comment, she had reasons for making it.

“If the UFC wanted that fight in Las Vegas, the commission would review her application and decide whether or not to approve that bout at 135 pounds. This is one of those situations we’d really have to look at.”

For years, White claimed female fights would never happen in the UFC because the divisions lacked depth. It was Rousey, White says, who changed his mind.

In some ways, though, every lopsided Rousey win validates White’s initial concern about depth in the women’s divisions. Hopefully, that challenge she’s been looking for is on its way.

Rousey's star power, Cormier shove, more

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto

LAS VEGAS -- Almost exactly one year ago, the question regarding Ronda Rousey’s star power was whether it was enough to carry a UFC pay-per-view event.

Today, that question has turned into this: Is her star power actually so strong that it could end her fighting career?

Rousey (8-0) will attempt to make her third defense of the 135-pound title against Sara McMann (7-0) on Saturday at UFC 170 inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

In addition to fighting three times in the previous 12 months, Rousey, 27, has drawn plenty of interest from Hollywood. She’s already completed filming roles for “Fast and Furious 7” and “The Expendables 3.” She is due back on the movie circuit next month to film an appearance on a movie version of the popular HBO series “Entourage.”

During a news conference on Thursday, UFC president Dana White said he does not consider Rousey’s acting obligations to be distractions, pointing out that Rousey has remained an active champion.

“What is she juggling?” White said. “[She will] obviously have time off [after UFC 170], but what do you do when you have time off? Some people gain a bunch of weight and they have to go lose it in their next fight.”

White did acknowledge that although Rousey is far from the first UFC fighter to appear in films, her earning power is far higher than any he’s seen previously.

If that ability to make money in Hollywood does eventually pull Rousey away from the cage, White says he’ll be happy for her and move on.

“Everybody keeps talking about, ‘What if she leaves for Hollywood?’” White said. “What if she leaves for Hollywood? How is that bad for [the UFC]? Is ‘The Rock’ [Dwayne Johnson] being a huge superstar bad for the WWE?”

White added that the UFC plans to have Rousey fight three times in 2014.

DC shoves Patrick Cummins

Daniel Cormier and Patrick CumminsJosh Hedges/Getty ImagesThe UFC 170 co-main event got off to an early start after Daniel Cormier shoved Patrick Cummins.

Prefight scuffles between UFC opponents are rare, but they can happen.

Daniel Cormier (13-0) shoved Patrick Cummins (4-0) during a stare-down on Thursday, presumably because of Cummins’ comments on their history.

The two former amateur wrestlers trained together years ago at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Cummins, who accepted the fight on short notice after an injury sidelined Rashad Evans, claims to have made Cormier cry once at practice.

The UFC has never lost a fight because of an incident at a weigh-in or news conference, but it was easy to read the uneasiness on White’s face as the shove happened.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like when they touch each other before fights,” White said.

“The one that scared me the most was Diego Sanchez/Josh Koscheck [at UFC 69]. Sanchez hit him so hard he almost fell over the scale. The sneakiest one ever was Anderson Silva when he hit Chael Sonnen [with a shoulder at UFC 148].”

Zingano still No. 1 contender whenever she returns

Cat ZinganoIsaac Hinds According to Dana White, women's contender Cat Zingano is still in line for a crack at the title.
Cat Zingano remains at the front of the line for the next shot at the UFC women’s bantamweight title.

Zingano (8-0) was supposed to coach against Rousey on "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series last year but was forced to withdraw because of a torn ACL. Last month, her husband and coach, Mauricio Zingano, committed suicide in Denver.

White did not know a timetable for her return but said she has not lost her place in the division. Zingano was originally expected to return to training in March.

“Cat Zingano and I have played phone tag, and I owe her a phone call,” White said.

“The kitchen sink has been thrown at that poor girl. Losing the opportunity to coach TUF, losing the opportunity to fight for the title, being injured and going through all the emotional crap and then her husband -- you can’t even imagine.”

UFC 170 by the numbers

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
By Andrew Davis
The face of women’s MMA returns for her third title defense when “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey faces Sara McMann on Saturday. McMann won an Olympic silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Athens Games, while Rousey won an Olympic bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Beijing Games.

In the co-main event, former two-time Olympic freestyle wrestling team member Daniel Cormier makes his light heavyweight debut against former training partner Patrick Cummins, who will be fighting on short notice after replacing Rashad Evans (Evans suffered a knee injury and was forced to withdraw from the card last week).
[+] EnlargeRonda Rousey and Liz Carmouche
Ed Mulholland for ESPNAll of Ronda Rousey's MMA victories have come via her patented arm-bar submission.

Here are the numbers you need to know for the fights:

8: Rousey has recorded eight submission victories in her career, seven of which have come in the opening round. Rousey is the only UFC fighter, male or female, to win every fight with the same finish. With another arm-bar victory, Rousey will tie Jeremy Horn for the most wins by arm-bar submission in UFC history.

2: McMann scored two takedowns in her promotional debut at UFC 159 against Sheila Gaff. In McMann's prior four fights outside the UFC, she averaged 6.5 takedowns per fight, including a career-high nine against Raquel Pa'aluhi.

6: Rousey landed a career-high six takedowns in her UFC 168 fight against rival Miesha Tate. Rousey landed three takedowns in each of the first two rounds, eventually finishing Tate with an arm bar.

3: The Rousey-Tate fight ended in the third round, the first time in Rousey’s eight-fight MMA career that she’s gone past the first round. Tate is also the only woman to escape a Rousey submission attempt (two escapes in UFC 168 fight).

9: Rousey has attempted nine submissions in six UFC/Strikeforce fights. In four of those fights, Rousey has finished her opponent with the first submission attempted.

2: Rousey (8-0, 2-0 UFC) and McMann (7-0, 1-0 UFC) are facing off in the second title fight in UFC history to involve two undefeated fighters. Lyoto Machida (14-0) defeated Rashad Evans (15-0-1) for the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 98.

2: Both Rousey and McMann have won an Olympic medal. Rousey was a two-time Olympian in judo, winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Rousey was also on the 2004 Olympic team in judo, and McMann was on the '04 team in freestyle wrestling. McMann won a silver medal in the women’s middleweight division.

4: If McMann can win the title, she will join Rousey, Randy Couture and Mark Coleman as former Olympians to win a UFC title. Coleman was a freestyle wrestler on the 1992 Olympic team before winning the first UFC heavyweight title at UFC 12. Couture was a three-time Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling before winning the UFC heavyweight title on three occasions and the UFC light heavyweight title twice.

3: Cormier is the third Olympian on the UFC 170 card, joining Rousey and McMann. Cormier was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team in his discipline of freestyle wrestling. He finished fourth in Athens and was expected to wrestle on the 2008 Olympic team before being sidelined by injury. Despite the injury, Cormier was still a team captain.

2: Cummins was a two-time All-American wrestler at Penn State, finishing fourth in the 2003 NCAA Championships and second in 2004. Cummins went 38-5 in the heavyweight division in 2003-04, his senior campaign.

3: Cormier notched three takedowns in his last fight against Roy Nelson. In three of Cormier's last four fights, he has at least three takedowns.

92: Cormier holds a plus-92 significant striking advantage over his opponents in the UFC. In two fights -- one against Nelson and one against Frank Mir -- Cormier landed 133 significant strikes to just 41 for his opponents.

4: Cummins is 4-0 in MMA competition, ending each of his fights in the first round. While Cummins has a wrestling background, he has two wins by KO/TKO and two wins by submission.

Statistical support from FightMetric

McMann's skills might bridge Rousey gap

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto

It’s difficult not to see flashes of Royce Gracie in Ronda Rousey.

In November 1993, an undersized Gracie mowed through a field of competitors at UFC 1 behind Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills his opponents simply did not understand.

Rousey (8-0) has accomplished a similar feat in female mixed martial arts through 2013, finishing all eight of her professional fights in the same fashion -- arm bar. It’s not the exact same thing Gracie did 20 years ago, but there is a common theme.

As a U.S. bronze medalist in judo in the 2008 Olympics, Rousey has an ultraspecific, unique skill. Her opponents are forced to catch up, cramming judo sessions and defense of the arm bar into their preparations, and it’s an extremely wide gap to make up.


I think that every other girl in the division has a very hard and long road to learning how to stop a high-level throw. I don't have that same problem.

" -- Sara McMann,
on Ronda Rousey's judo skills
It is for this reason that Rousey’s next fight against the virtually unknown Sara McMann at UFC 170 on Feb. 22 deserves your attention. That wide gap, finally, won’t exist.

“I think that every other girl in the division has a very hard and long road to learning how to stop a high-level throw,” McMann said. “I don’t have that same problem.”

McMann (10-0) is free to roam the United States with her 4-year-old daughter and go unrecognized. She has fewer than 16,000 Twitter followers and has never been hailed as the face of women’s MMA.

What she has done is take a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. wrestling team. She has spent her life on a wrestling mat and was introduced to judo in the late 1990s, well before she ever heard the name Rousey.

“My best friend in college my freshman year, when I was 17, had done judo before she started wrestling,” McMann said. “She used to put on a highlight tape, and we would sit and watch it and say, ‘Wow, that is so beautiful.’

“She would show me different things and apply her judo to wrestling. I would see other judo girls do it too. I knew about judo long before this.”

That background contrasts sharply with other Rousey opponents. Sarah Kaufman began her career in her late teens in kickboxing classes. Liz Carmouche played noncombat sports in high school before starting to train MMA in the Marine Corps.

Miesha Tate, considered a strong grappler in her own right, fought Rousey in March 2012 and last month at UFC 168. She began wrestling in high school. She was taken down six times by Rousey in the rematch and submitted in the third round.

McMann, who watched that fight with the knowledge she would face the winner, said she saw nothing significantly wrong with Tate’s technique. It was even worse -- she was using the wrong technique to begin with.

“I don’t think there was anything technically wrong with the double leg she was hitting. It was more the technique she selected,” McMann said. “When you feel a person who can throw you, it’s a lot smarter not to load yourself on them.

“Single and double legs, they absolutely load you onto their hips. Some of the times when [Tate and Rousey] locked up, I was closing my eyes. But it takes years of experience [to know that], going against people who are trying to throw you.”

Many will write off McMann’s chances in the fight based on name recognition alone. Others might say the title opportunity has come too quick and she’s simply not ready for it. Oddsmakers have opened Rousey as a more than 4-to-1 betting favorite.

Without question, there are reasons to predict a third title defense for Rousey, but the suggestion McMann isn’t ready is a loaded one.

On one hand, more time to develop is never a bad thing. On the other, you might argue that her competitive background actually makes her the only woman in the world ready for Rousey.

“When Ronda grabs Sara, she’s going to feel something she hasn’t felt since the Olympic Games,” said Daniel Cormier, UFC light heavyweight and former U.S. Olympic wrestler. “She’s going to feel somebody who is a lifetime athlete, as she is.

“Ronda’s biggest advantage is that she’s a lifetime athlete. I’m not saying all these girls aren’t athletes, but Ronda hit the nail on the head when she told Miesha, ‘You wrestled for your high school team, and I went to the Olympic Games.' Well, Sara went [to the Olympics], and she placed too.”

More revelry than rivalry in Rousey-Tate II

December, 29, 2013
Huang By Michael Huang
Ronda Rousey defended her UFC women’s bantamweight title on Saturday and again reminded the MMA world of her Olympic pedigree.

With multiple judo throws and hip tosses, Rousey defeated a game Miesha Tate at UFC 168: Weidman-Silva II at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The win earned Rousey Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night bonuses, totaling $150,000.

In the postfight news conference, UFC president Dana White announced Rousey (8-0) will face Sara McMann (7-0) at UFC 170 on Feb. 22.
[+] EnlargeRonda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
Ed Mulholland for ESPNMiesha Tate found herself in dire straits on the occasions she went to the ground with Ronda Rousey.

While Rousey once again won with her patented arm bar, it was the ease with which she took down Tate that was on display.

Tate started off aggressively, trading strikes with Rousey to keep the fight standing. But inevitably, Rousey pushed toward the clinch, tying up Tate, who took down Rousey at 3:26 of the first round.

But even after getting the takedown, Tate ended up on defense more than offense, as Rousey’s jiu-jitsu was markedly improved. She attributed this improvement to training with jiu-jitsu gurus Rener and Ryron Gracie during her last two fight camps.

Tate also seemed a much improved striker, landing 48 percent of her strikes, up from the 41 percent she averaged while competing in Strikeforce. However, Tate’s wrestling instincts kept her going to the ground with Rousey, and Rousey kept hip tossing Tate to the mat.

In the end, Rousey was able to sink in the arm bar for the win in the third round.

“I have no excuses,” Tate said. “[Rousey] was the better fighter tonight.”

Rousey said her problem has been trying not to rush her attacks and approach. However, entering Saturday's bout Rousey had defeated all of her opponents so handily, she’s never had to slow herself down. Against Tate she needed to regroup and remind herself to take her foot off the gas.

“Judo matches are just five minutes long. So I always felt like I had to get it done in a hurry,” Rousey said. “In the third round, I learned to be patient. My coaches always say to pay attention to what you’re doing and do everything for a reason.”


UFC fans know what’s next for Rousey, but what about Tate?

Now 0-2 in the UFC and a loser in three of her last four fights, Tate has lost twice to Rousey, who originally took the Strikeforce bantamweight championship from Tate in 2012. Thus, the odds are long that she’ll receive a third shot at Rousey anytime soon. With just two women’s divisions in the UFC, Tate really has nowhere to go.

“I don’t really know what’s next. Every day people try to climb up a hill. I see Mount Everest,” Tate said. “But I try to walk away from this with my head held high. I just need some time to figure it out.”

Rousey, on the other hand, relished the opportunity to fight so quickly again.

“Dana approached me about this and I wanted to do it,” Rousey said. “I’m in the best shape of my life. I don’t want to sit on the shelf. It’s the perfect time to go back-to-back. I feel like I could fight again tonight.”

As for the feud with Tate, Rousey’s victory should have ensured the end of any sort of “rivalry” talk, for a rivalry isn't a rivalry when it’s so one-sided. Further, Rousey seemed to soften her stance on Tate and offered compliments in her postfight interviews.

“I need to commend Miesha. She did a great job tonight. She’s an amazing fighter. She really is,” Rousey said.

However, when Tate extended her hand in a gesture of sportsmanship after losing to Rousey, she refused to shake Tate’s hand.

“Once you insult my family, I can’t shake your hand,” said Rousey, referring to some of the practical jokes Tate played on Rousey’s coaching staff during filming of Season 18 of "The Ultimate Fighter." "But I really respect her, and I think she did an amazing job tonight.

"For me, family comes before anything, even the boos and cheers of the crowd. I think it would disrespect my family if I shook her hand. I said she did an amazing job. But I can’t shake the hand of someone who spits on my back. Until she apologizes to my family, I won’t shake her hand."

Rousey might have been the overwhelming favorite coming into the fight, but the crowd made it very clear who was their favorite, as cheers came for Tate, but boos muffled Rousey’s postfight interview. Ultimately, TUF 18 might have represented a sea change in Rousey’s brand and role as an antihero champion. Regardless, there’s no question it helped sell the fight.

“I was aware of the role I was in,” Rousey said. “The best analogy I can give is it was like how Batman knew he had to look like the bad guy and allow Two-Face to be the good guy because that what was needed at the time.”

And she’ll take boos, which she says might help her as she begins training for McMann. Her Olympic pedigree has helped her cope with that part of the business as well.

"When I was doing judo, I got booed in 30 different countries around the world," Rousey said. "Cheering is something new for me. I’m much more motivated by proving people wrong."

Postmortem: Sonnen doesn't show up; and more

April, 29, 2013
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
Heading into UFC 159, figuring out ways that Chael Sonnen could compete with Jon Jones required an active imagination. The leading idea on how to get it done was for Sonnen to put his chin down, stick the crown of his head into Jones’ chest and drive him through the cage floor. Once there, things would become adventurous for all parties.

It didn’t get there.

In fact, Jones turned the tables on Sonnen and shot in for a takedown of his own just a few seconds into the fight. It was Sonnen staring up at the lights, fending off oncoming elbows. He was able to get up, but Jones, out of a sense of pride and civic duty, became the kind of insistent wrestler who only Sonnen could appreciate. With half a minute to go in the first round, Sonnen’s face battered and wits scattered, Jones was pried off of the "West Linn Gangsta" in what was ultimately the most predictable stoppage in the history of ground and pound.

But in a bizarre night where Ovince St. Preux won an abrupt technical decision with an eye poke of Gian Villante, Michael Bisping won a technical decision for an eye poke of the one man whose phobia is eye pokes, Alan Belcher, and Yancy Medeiros’ thumb was rearranged into something from Picasso’s brush, it was par for the course that Jones broke his toe somewhere along the way. By the end of the night, appendages at odd angles were all but the norm.

Now we can focus on “what does it all mean,” which is one of MMA’s favorite pastimes. Let’s try to sort it out.


How does Sonnen compete?
Turns out our hunches were right -- he doesn’t, not when fighting a stylistic nightmare who has the wingspan of a Cessna and a chip on his shoulder.

Last time we see Jones at 205?
Because he only tied Tito Ortiz’s record of five title defenses, here’s guessing no. Lyoto Machida has been promised a rematch, and Alexander Gustafsson still has a modicum of appeal on his way up. And if Jones fights Daniel Cormier, the likeliest scenario is it happens at light heavyweight.

Can Phil Davis break through?
Davis showed improved stand-up ability from that awkward version of himself a couple of years ago. But this was a one-sided beatdown of Vinny Magalhaes, a static fighter whose own stand-up won’t swell the orchestra. Davis might be ready for a step up in competition, but he still seems light years away from challenging Jon Jones.

Is Cheick Kongo showing his 37 years?
Kongo is a dapper gentle giant outside the cage, and in his fight with Roy Nelson, he became one inside the cage, too. We didn’t see any urgency or head-hunting or even any of that rare joie de vivre. What we did see was Roy Nelson go into his windup, as if from the pitcher’s mound, and deliver a heater of an overhand right that dropped Kongo like a curtain sliding off the rod. In other words, yes, Kongo’s days appear numbered.


Does Sonnen retire?
Through the last three-year odyssey in which Sonnen has captivated the world of MMA and fought for the belt three times, he made it plain that winning a championship was his singular motivation. Does he want to stick around in a grudge-match capacity to fight the Vitor Belforts and Wanderlei Silvas of the world? (Answer: Hope so. Too many delicious vendettas lingering out there for Sonnen to just walk away.)

Is Pat Healy a top-10 lightweight?
If you subscribe to the theory that divisions are essentially a Netflix queue, where you can drag a title up from the bottom and replace something already in line near the top, then yes (and I know that speaks to more than half a dozen of you). Beating Jim Miller in Miller’s native New Jersey was enough of a feat, but Healy’s pressure game is starting to look scary. At nearly 30 years old, and with 46 professional fights, Healy is just now really coming into his own.

Is Nelson a heavyweight contender?
His right hand says "yes." His surprising agility to climb the fence and do the two-handed Buddha belly rub after victories says "yes." His popularity among fans and mullet connoisseurs says "yes." And realistically, yes. Now everybody is imagining Nelson against Mark Hunt, and Nelson against Daniel Cormier, and Nelson against Alistair Overeem, and that’s a good thing.

What’s next for Michael Bisping?
In hockey patois, Bisping was clutching his stick a little tight early against Belcher, but he began to get into a groove with his striking early in the second round. It was a victory that staves off ugly circumstances and gets him rolling toward something again. Bisping has mentioned fighting in October in Manchester, and here’s thinking Cung Le would be a big draw.


For Sara McMann -- Right now it’s wide open, with the Armageddon she brought on Sheila Gaff. We know about the Olympic wrestling, but there’s something about the delight she took in the elbows she was dropping from the crucifix position that has you wondering about how she’d fare against Ronda Rousey (and that’s where McMann’s headed -- but she’ll have to stay busy with another fight or two).

For Jim Miller -- Technically, getting put to sleep isn’t a submission so much as a loss of consciousness, but losing a second time in New Jersey (the first to Nate Diaz) hurts Miller. Though he’s flirted with the idea of moving up to 170 pounds in the past, he might consider a move down to 145. Pastures are always greener in other divisions after losses like the one to Healy.

For Jon Jones -- He needs to get that toe better, but when that’s all said and done, he can officially break Tito Ortiz’s record of five light heavyweight title defenses. The dust has to settle, but the forerunners to become his next victim appear to be down to Alexander Gustafsson or Lyoto Machida (particularly if they fight each other while Jones heals to form a super-definitive, no-questions-asked No. 1 contender).

For Chael Sonnen -- The television booth, at first. But eventually Wanderlei. And Belfort. And the whole block of peeved Brazilians who are smashing their fists in their hands waiting by their phones for Joe Silva to call.

For Roy Nelson -- Daniel Cormier and great balls of fire!

Matches to make

Jon Jones versus Alexander Gustafsson -- If you're an all-or-nothing fan, Jones should heal up and wait on Anderson Silva. But more realistically, dial up the Swede.

Chael Sonnen versus Wanderlei Silva -- Sonnen's already dropping the subliminal tracks toward this fight.

Michael Bisping versus Cung Le -- The two greatest verbs in MMA are "Cung Le."

Alan Belcher versus Hector Lombard -- If 170 is too condensed for the Cuban, a run-in with Belcher at 185 might be fun.

Roy Nelson versus Daniel Cormier -- Twitter wants it. Twitter is all that matters in matchmaking.


Bryan Caraway -- Only seven weeks removed from his split decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki, Caraway took out Johnny Bedford on a week’s notice with poise and strength.

Phil Davis -- He made it through the rebound portion of his career (the Wagner Prado series and now Vinny Magalhaes), and it’s right back into the kitchen fire of light heavyweight elites.

Cody McKenzie -- Hey, kudos to McKenzie for not engaging Leonard Garcia in a “Leonard Garcia” fight. His restraint was admirable.

Steven Siler -- This would have been fight of the night had Healy/Miller not turned things into Grappler’s Quest Gone Wild. Siler was too much for Kurt Holobaugh, and he weathered a big second-round storm to get the job done.

Leonard Garcia -- Five losses in a row, the latest coming against a fighter who was tailor-made for getting off the schneid? Not good.

Vinny Magalhaes -- Here’s yet another lesson of “be careful what you wish for.” It was Magalhaes who called out Davis, but he had nothing for him.

Alan Belcher -- The eye poke was scary, particularly after having surgery on that same eye not all that long ago. But when you’re likely down 2-0 on the scorecards and you come out in the third with smiles instead of flurries? Not the way his corner drew it up.

McMann: I want to be No. 1

April, 26, 2013
Okamoto By Brett Okamoto
Sara McMannJim Kemper/Zuffa LLC/Getty ImagesSara McMann thinks that female fighting in the UFC is good and entertaining.

Fans of the UFC who perhaps didn’t paid attention to female martial arts before have all learned a little something in 2013 -- women fight pretty hard.

Two female bouts have taken place in the Octagon this year, and both stole the show.

Ronda Rousey’s armbar victory over Liz Carmouche proved vital after a rather dull co-main event at UFC 157. Earlier this month, Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate claimed Fight of the Night bonuses at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in Las Vegas.

It may be hard to believe that all-female fights can be that entertaining. Sara McMann, who meets Sheila Gaff this weekend at UFC 159, says actually, yeah. They can.

“I think that is what women bring to the fight world,” McMann told “Everybody is like, ‘Oh, I’m so surprised. They stole the show.’ Every woman fight on the smaller cards I’ve fought on, they all do it.

“These girls will fight from the first bell to the last, and they are going 100 percent of their pace. You can’t help but like that kind of fight. The UFC fan base is just now seeing why people have been saying women need to be in the UFC for years.”

McMann (6-0) has made it clear she’s not in the UFC to provide a good headline. When it comes to interviews, she’ll only be herself. Turns out she’s pretty interesting that way. Check out her conversation with below.

Seems like you’re enjoying your first UFC fight week?
I am. I think that before, I kind of told myself there would be a lot of media and it would get on my nerves, and I thought I was going to have a tougher weight cut than I’m having. I just expected it to be a lot more horrible. Most of the media stuff has just been casual conversations.

What else were you expecting the media conversations to be?
I thought there would be more charged questions. A lot of them have talked to me about UFC jitters. That one kind of got to me a little. I thought, is this going to be like the Olympics? No, not a chance in the world. I probably will feel nervous, but I think these guys are trying to plant it in my head. Six interviews in one day and every one of them talked about it. I was like, ‘Did you guys form a group that meets on Wednesdays? The UFC jitter group? Maybe the fight will be more nerve-racking than I think, but whatever it is, I’ll work through it.

Have you thought about what media obligations would be like if you won the title?
I’ve considered it. Now, I just view it as part of my job. It would start to get difficult if it really interfered with my training. Having a 4-year old daughter [Bella] and having gyms farther away from me, I’ve had to do a lot of working around different schedules, so, I think I would be able to do it for quite a while without it being that bad. Then again, I don’t know. I don’t know if Ronda’s [Rousey] schedule is more horrible than I think. Maybe I’d hate it, and if I do, I guess they’ll have to find a new champion.

The UFC fan base has now gotten to see the aggressive style women fight with. Why do you think women are geared toward those types of fights?
I think it is a little instinctual. The women I wrestle against, these girls are mean. Some of them are dirty. They will smash your face into the mat and not bat an eye. They just have a natural meanness. I think for a lot of the women, it’s not personal, but we’ll do whatever it takes. Women have a very strong, combative survival instinct.

How has the financial aspect of being a female fighter been?
It’s been tough, and I think some of that is because it’s been nine months since I’ve fought. I wish I would have been able to fight once for Strikeforce and that would have bridged the gap more. It’s growing. It’s going to take time. The UFC is offering the pay people were getting with their Strikeforce contract. Strikeforce was a different beast. It had different viewership and different sponsors. All those contracts rolled over. When we renegotiate, once we’ve shown we are a brand to fans and that we’re entertaining, I think the money will follow.

Are you able to not have a second job and train full time?
Yes. I also stay at home and take care of my daughter, and I have an awesome boyfriend who helps support my dreams. When I was first trying to get a pro fight, I had to work at Starbucks, and that was also for the health insurance. I couldn’t get anybody to accept a pro fight, and the people who they would fight me had 13 fights, so no commission would approve it. I know other girls work at gyms or are personal trainers to make ends meet. Anybody thinks of fighter pay and they think of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. The reality is, there are other guys fighting for a lot less than that. It’s very difficult to make it on just a fighter salary, but it’s getting better, I think.

There are those out there who say, “Sara McMann will be the one to beat Ronda Rousey.” Do you feel that pressure at all?
I don’t really feel that pressure because since I started MMA, I automatically wanted to be No. 1. I’ve already been working to be No. 1 since the beginning. I don’t do sports any other way.

If you fight Rousey tomorrow, do you beat her?
I don’t know when that fight’s going to be put together, but I wouldn’t even be where I am now if I didn’t think, 'Yes, you tell me tomorrow my next fight is Ronda, I will train for her and I will beat her.' That’s just the way I operate.