When UFC women’s bantamweight champion and former Olympian Ronda Rousey debuted on the Strikerforce Challengers series three years ago it became clear almost immediately we were witnessing something different and refreshing. What wasn’t as clear was just how meteoric Rousey’s rise to the top would be.
After defeating her nemesis, Miesha Tate, for the second time last December, Rousey shocked us all at the post fight press conference when she announced that she’d be fighting again just two months later. Her opponent? Another former Olympian named Sara McMann.
Let’s closer look at this fantastic matchup for the UFC women’s bantamweight title.
Ronda Rousey (8-0)
Whether you love or hate her Ronda Rousey is to be respected. Aside from the obvious armbar advantage that she holds over almost any opponent she faces, Rousey is a master judoka. Striking isn’t Rousey’s strong suit but we’ve seen a constant progression in her boxing technique thanks to head trainer Edmond Tarverdyan.
In her last bout against Tate, Rousey, for the first time in her MMA career, was unable to finish the fight in the first round. She did it in the third with, you guessed it, an armbar. For this particular bout it might actually benefit Rousey to keep the fight standing longer than usual.
McMann doesn’t seem to be as skilled as the champion is on the feet and Rousey’s jab may be a huge factor in stopping her opponent’s forward progression. However, you can expect most of this fight to take place in the clinch and on the mat. It will be interesting to see if Rousey can toss McMann the same way she did to Tate when she shot in for a takedown in their last bout. Rousey has one of the strongest core bases in MMA but for the first time she might be fighting someone more physically imposing than she is. You can also bet as soon as this fight hits the ground Rousey will be looking for her trademark armbar.
Sara McMann (7-0)
A decorated silver medalist, McMann may be the best wrestler in women’s MMA. Aside from the freestyle wrestling background, McMann is incredibly strong and seems to have the gas tank to become Rousey’s greatest test to date.
Last April McMann made her UFC debut and proceeded to throw WMMA veteran Sheila Gaff from pillar to post on her way to a first round TKO. McMann displayed some serious ground and pound coupled with her stellar wrestling. In order for McMann to be successful on Saturday night it’s very simple. She must control the champion from top position.
In her earlier bouts McMann proved that she can counter judo throws and land in advantageous positions in her favor. If she is able to secure top position in the half guard while avoiding Rousey’s world class sweeps, McMann could very well walk away with the title with her rugged ground and pound. Although it remains to be seen McMann and her camp claim they’ve been studying Rousey for over a year and have the recipe to defend the champion’s patent armbar.
The Bottom Line
According to Bodog, Rousey (-450) is the clear favorite over McMann (+325) and it’s easy to see why. Rousey has seemed damn near invincible in all of her MMA bouts to date with all of her victories coming by way of the armbar. No one has seemed to figure out how to stop it but on the other hand McMann may have the physical attributes to keep herself from danger. If McMann could some how drag this into a five round fight she may have the advantage but after all this is Ronda Rousey we’re talking about. All it takes is one mistake and poof, your arm is broken.
Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an MMA contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he’s up to at his band’s website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe on Facebook.