No. 2 ranked Sarah Kaufman will meet No. 4 ranked Sara McMann in a highly anticipated women's bantamweight scrap at UFC on Fox Sports 1 #2 in Indianapolis.
With Cat Zingano sidelined with a knee injury the winner of this fight could leapfrog her for the next title shot.
Kaufman rebounded from her title fight loss to Ronda Rousey by edging Leslie Smith on the scorecards at Invicta FC 5. McMann retained her perfect record by stopping Sheila Gaff in their UFC debuts at UFC 159. This is a great matchup to see who is ready for a potential title fight.
Lets take a look at the potential contender's bout between Kaufman and McMann.
This is a classic striker vs. grappler battle—Kaufman is the striker.
Kaufman has good power in her hands and good overall strength. She can bully her opponents in the stand-up department when they are overmatched. Last March she busted Alexis Davis up in a three-round war.
McMann has been working on improving her stand-up game. She has moved between several different camps, and has refined her striking. However, it still is not up to Kaufman's level.
McMann has no qualms about throwing down; she stood toe-to-toe with Shayna Baszler with a smile on her face. Baszler is a decent striker, but she is not Kaufman. The former Strikeforce champion throws clean, straight punches with power. McMann will be wary of getting in to a slugfest with her.
McMann won an Olympic silver medal as a wrestler—it is clear who has the advantage here.
McMann is one of, if not the, strongest female in the division. When she gets her hands on you there is a distinct possibility that your back will be on the canvas shortly after. There are not many female athletes in MMA right now that can stop her takedowns.
Kaufman will be working on her takedown defense, and the one thing she has going for her is her strength—she has a strong base. She'll need to use that to defend any takedown attempts from McMann, and work from the clinch.
When it comes to wrestling, there is no better bantamweight than McMann.
Neither fighter prefers going for a submission. Kaufman has zero submission wins to her credit, and McMann only has three. And two of those were in her first two professional bouts.
They like to do damage.
If one does seek the submission it will largely depend on positioning, and that is why McMann holds the advantage. With her wrestling and top control it will be hard for Kaufman to throw up a submission. And if the likes of Hitomi Akano and Shayna Baszler couldn't get it done, it is unlikely Kaufman will either.
Do not expect many submission tries in this fight, but McMann has the better opportunity to apply one.
Kaufman's X-Factor: Utilizing Her Jab
Kaufman has a very good, strong jab. It will be her most important weapon against McMann.
There is little question that McMann will want to try and take this fight to the mat; hat is her game, and there is no reason to slug it out with Kaufman in such an important fight. Kaufman's jab will keep McMann on the outside, making her shots more easy to defend.
If Kaufman can keep this fight at a distance, then she will have a great claim at being the No. 1 contender in the division.
McMann's X-Factor: Avoiding a Slugfest
McMann likes to duke it out, but that isn't smart against Kaufman.
The former Olympian has put herself in the midst of a brawl on more then one occasion; the most recent being her battle against Shayna Baszler. This will get her into some serious trouble against Kaufman.
McMann is a highly intelligent fighter, and this will be a true test of her Fight IQ. It will be interesting to see how she closes the distance and avoids Kaufman's strikes. McMann will want to fight in close quarters.
This is not just an exciting matchup because of the rankings, it will also be a big test in Sara McMann's career.
There is no getting around the anticipation of a potential bout between Rousey and McMann. They have been linked together since they entered this sport as amateurs, and we have seen them take different paths to the top.
If McMann can look impressive against Kaufman, it will only add to the hype surrounding that potential battle.
Kaufman will be extremely difficult for McMann to manhandle, but she should be able to take her down. It is difficult to see how McMann stops Kaufman in this fight. The silver medalist will have to take Kaufman down in all three rounds en route to a unanimous decision.
Prediction: McMann defeats Kaufman by unanimous decision