UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey has her hands full after the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter concludes as she is scheduled to face Cat Zingano. If Rousey is able to secure a victory later this year the question will quickly arise about who is next. Sara McMann debuts for the UFC this weekend and she will undoubtedly throw her hat in the ring wanting a shot.
McMann’s grappling resume is as impressive as anyone’s in women’s MMA. With her credentials she could be the one to neutralize the ground attacks of Rousey and take her title.
McMann is still new to the sport of mixed martial arts. She has only been fighting for two years but has had a rapid ascension. She has worked her way through small regional promotions to Titan FC, Pro Elite, Invicta and now the UFC.
Her last fight at Invicta FC 2 against veteran Shayna Baszler was named fight of the night. It was also a title eliminator bout but when the UFC came knocking she could not refuse an opportunity with the world’s largest MMA promotion.
With an undefeated 6-0 record McMann looks to keep that zero in her loss column and potentially be next in line for a title shot. Her grappling skills could be the key to neutralizing Rousey’s submissions. McMann is a skilled grappler who medalled at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Combat Club North American Championships.
Her greatest accolade would be winning the silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympic games in freestyle wrestling. Along with her medals in regional No-Gi competitions, Pan-Am games and wins in USA Wrestling national championships, McMann’s skill set appears to a good fit to counteract Rousey’s offence.
The striking game is something both McMann and Rousey still have to develop. McMann will be thrown into the fire with her opponent at UFC 159. Sheila Gaff has more experience and finished every opponent off early in her 10 wins. Gaff is going to pressure her and try to keep the fight on the feet. McMann needs to take her to the mat as quickly as possible and work for a submission.
It is a solid test for her and if she should pass she could be next in line for a championship opportunity. It is still too early to know what will happen next with the women’s championship but McMann poses an intriguing challenge should Rousey successfully defend her belt against Zingano.
It is very possible she will need to rack up another victory before a title shot is granted but this weekend is the first step on that path. It is never a good idea to look to far into the future as you can lose focus on the opponent in front of you. McMann has taken care of business so far in her young MMA career and I expect her to continue.
One thing that is certain, this fight on the FX portion of the undercard Saturday night should not be missed. The women continually deliver exciting fights time after time and there is no reason to think otherwise with this matchup.