Much has been made of Ronda Rousey’s Olympic credentials since she entered the sport of mixed martial arts, yet the MMA exploits of Sara McMann, an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, have been accompanied by relatively little fanfare.
There are perfectly understandable reasons for this, of course. Rousey hasn’t gained notoriety simply because she earned a bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Rather, she has generated column inches largely as a result of both her physical and verbal gifts.
Inside the cage, she competes with a ruthless ferocity that would have Mike Tyson licking his chops. Outside the cage, she displays a charismatic personality and is eminently quotable in her interviews.
Conversely, Sara McMann has gone about her business with serene efficiency. Her opponents’ limbs are rarely in jeopardy, while she also appears unwilling to ramp up the rhetoric when a reporter shoves a microphone in front of her face.
Despite their many differences, it is their similarities that suggest they would combine to produce the most compelling contest in women’s MMA: accomplished athletes, unyieldingly competitive, champion grapplers, etc.
Many of you are doubtless wondering, “What about ‘Cyborg’?!”
Well, Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos has seemingly removed herself from the equation, citing her inability to make 135 pounds. However, one questions the legitimacy of such a claim.
While “Cyborg” struggled to make 145 pounds before she, ahem, took an involuntary break from the sport, it is worth asking whether Santos’ weight issues had something to do with the fact that she shot herself full of more steroids than the cast of Pumping Iron.
Looking back at her early fights, the physical transformation is nothing short of astounding. As Rosi Sexton pointed out earlier this year, “Cyborg” essentially transformed into a man who beat up women for a living.
If we’re being honest, she probably could have been arrested for battery after most of her fights.
If Santos is legitimately off the juice when she returns to the cage, does anyone doubt that she will have shed some muscle mass? Indeed, I would expect her to drop at least 10 pounds of muscle, based on how she looked early in her career.
As I see it, that is more than likely the real reason she wants no part of Ronda Rousey at bantamweight. “Cyborg” must doubt whether she will be able to compete on a level playing field with an athlete the calibre of Rousey.
And who can blame her? When you have competed with such a prohibitive edge for years—as we all suspect she has—it is natural to question how much of your success was achieved on merit.
Sara McMann will have no such doubts should she and Rousey ever be matched up. Once you realise what the former silver medalist brings to the table, it becomes apparent that she is a hellish matchup even for an Olympic-calibre judoka.
Rousey thrives on her ability to trip and/or throw her opponents in order to set up the patented armbar. Do you for one second think that Ronda is going to rag-doll an elite wrestler like McMann? Not on your life, son.
If you want to see Rousey put on a striking demonstration, pitting her against Sara McMann is your best bet. Moreover, McMann appears to be the more advanced of the two on the feet.
Then again, it isn’t particularly easy to judge Rousey’s striking based on the cumulative two minutes she has spent exchanging blows thus far in her career.
Unfortunately for us, it is doubtful that this contest will take place any time soon.
While Strikeforce are willing to loan out their fighters to Invicta FC, I am not convinced Shannon Knapp would be open to allowing Sara McMann to head over to Showtime and possibly win another organisation’s belt.
I invite you to read an article I authored a few weeks ago, regarding the possibility of Zuffa purchasing Invicta FC in order to grow women’s MMA and develop some of the raw talent we have already witnessed in the fledgling fight league.
Promoting Invicta under the Zuffa banner offers us the best chance of seeing the best in women’s MMA competing with each other regularly.
And putting together Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann would be right at the top of their to-do list.