Bellator Signs Ex-UFC Title Challenger Sara McMann to Multi-Fight Deal

Former UFC bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann has signed a multi-fight contract with Bellator MMA.

The promotion announced the news on Tuesday. The former Olympic silver medalist will move up a division in Bellator to compete at 145 pounds, where Cristiane Justino is the reigning champion.

"I am thrilled to have joined Bellator. Bellator has the deepest roster at women’s featherweight, and I look forward to tough scraps with these ladies,” McMann said in a release. “I want to thank the Bellator team, especially Mike Kogan and Scott Coker, for putting together such an outstanding offer, and I’d like to thank many Bellator fighters, including Cris Cyborg, for their collective support and encouragement. Everything about this feels right, and I am grateful and looking forward to 2023!”

McMann challenged for bantamweight gold in just her second Octagon appearance, falling to Ronda Rousey via first-round technical knockout at UFC 170 on Feb. 22, 2014. She would go on to compile a 7-6 mark in the Las Vegas-based organization, earning wins over the likes of Karol Rosa, Alexis Davis, Jessica Eye and Lauren Murphy. The 42-year-old South Carolinian was scheduled to meet Aspen Ladd in both August and September, but on both occasions Ladd was forced to withdraw from the matchup. McMann completed her UFC contract with the cancellation of the second Ladd booking.

McMann also released a statement via Instagram explaining the reasoning behind her decision to sign with Bellator:

After a lot of consideration and negotiation, I’ve decided to fight for Bellator in the featherweight division. Before my fight with Karol Rosa, Jennifer Goldstein (my amazing manager) asked if I wanted to test free agency or remain with the UFC no matter what. I told her that while I have enjoyed my career fighting for the UFC, I am at a different point in life than when I initially signed with them.

I’m at a very fortunate time in women’s MMA where other promotions will offer very enticing contracts if you are a top ranked fighter. It’s not easy to leave some of the great people I’ve met or the excellent bantamweight fighters I’ve faced. Bellator made an offer that I simply couldn’t refuse. I hope to keep all of my friends in the UFC while making new friends in Bellator. The fighting world is a tight knit community and I respect all of the athletes who put it on the line. My desire to be the world champion at featherweight is very strong because I truly believe Bellator has the premier fighters in the world at that weight class. Thank you to every one of my fans, you all are legit fight fans (or wrestlers ) and I can’t wait to showcase my skills without a tough weight cut.

Some fans have asked about retirement. The honest answer is that I just really like fighting and don’t want to stop yet. I have a Masters in Mental Health Counseling and I really look forward to the day I can do counseling full time. But not yet…
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