Rivalries: Sara McMann

Sara McMann may not have lived up to the considerable hype that preceded her arrival in mixed martial arts, but she has nevertheless pieced together a successful career by most standards.

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist carries a somewhat-pedestrian 12-6 record, though four of her six defeats have come to current or former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders. McMann, 41, will climb back in the Octagon at a UFC Fight Night event on March 26, when she squares off with the promising Karol Rosa at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The Team Alpha Male export has lost three of her past four bouts. McMann last competed at UFC 257, where she submitted to a rear-naked choke from Julianna Pena in the third round of their Jan. 23, 2021 pairing.

As McMann prepares for her first appearance in nearly a year, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape her journey:

Shayna Baszler

McMann made a successful Invicta Fighting Championships debut and passed her final pre-UFC test when she took a unanimous decision from future World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Shayna Baszler in the Invicta 2 main event on July 28, 2012 at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Scores were 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28. McMann executed four takedowns, paired them with positional control, mixed in some ground-and-pound and maintained a preferred pace while outstriking “The Queen of Spades” by narrow margins in all three rounds. She delivered two takedowns in the second round and two more in the third, as she kept Baszler off-balance and did all she could to stay in her comfort zone. The victory improved McMann to a perfect 6-0 and set the stage for her inevitable transition to the UFC.

Ronda Rousey

“Rowdy Ronda” retained her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight crown with a technical knockout of McMann in the first round of their UFC 170 headliner on Feb. 22, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. A knee strike to the liver folded McMann just 66 seconds into Round 1, as the 2004 Olympic silver medalist was beaten for the first time as a professional. McMann tagged the champion with power punches during their initial exchange, but Rousey closed the distance and trapped her along the cage. Standing elbows and knees opened up the challenger for the fight-ending blow to the midsection. A short-circuited McMann collapsed to her knees upon impact, prompting referee Herb Dean to intervene on her behalf.

Miesha Tate

The former Strikeforce champion picked up a majority decision over McMann in their pivotal UFC 183 showcase on Jan. 31, 2015 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Judges Lester Griffin and Dave Hagen struck 29-28 scorecards for Tate, while Glenn Trowbridge scored it a 28-28 draw. McMann nearly finished it inside one round, as she cracked “Cupcake” with a vicious right hand, dove into top position and delivered some serious ground-and-pound. Tate seized the momentum in the second, where she answered an attempted takedown with a tight guillotine choke that had the South Carolinian in survival mode. She put the finishing touches on the comeback with a dominant third frame, as she countered another McMann takedown attempt inside the first minute and remained in top position for the rest of the fight.

Alexis Davis

McMann submitted the respected Canadian with an arm-triangle choke in the second round of their encounter at “The Ultimate Fighter 24” Finale on Dec. 3, 2016 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Davis conceded defeat 2:52 into Round 2. McMann sailed through some choppy seas. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist executed a takedown in the first round but wandered into the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s venomous guard. Davis cut loose with high-guard elbows that left the South Carolinian with significant damage to her left eye. McMann was undeterred. She scored with a hip toss early in the middle stanza, passed to half guard and framed the arm-triangle. McMann then cleared Davis’ legs, tightened her squeeze and coaxed the tapout. Davis had never before been submitted.

Ketlen Vieira

The undefeated Brazilian disposed of McMann with an arm-triangle choke in the second round of their featured UFC 215 prelim on Sept. 9, 2017 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Vieira brought it to a decisive close 4:16 into Round 2. The confrontation was marked by momentums swings. McMann manhandled the Nova Uniao representative for much of the first round, where the 2004 Olympic silver medalist delivered a takedown, passed to half guard and achieved full mount, all while scoring with intermittent punches and elbows. Vieira turned the tables in the second, as she struck for a takedown of her own, framed the choke and elicited the tapout with a crushing squeeze. The setback snapped McMann’s three-fight winning streak and all but closed the door on her hopes of someday returning to title contention.


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