Following Sara McMann's withdrawal from the UFC Fight Night 27 card, UFC matchmakers are seeking a replacement opponent for No. 2 women's bantamweight contender Sarah Kaufman.
MMAJunkie.com broke news of McMann's removal from the bout with Kaufman Monday evening. Reasons for McMann's exclusion were not detailed, but an injury was reportedly not involved.
The matchup between McMann and Kaufman was widely expected to produce the next title challenger in the 135-pound female class, so it's likely the UFC will seek a highly ranked fighter as a stand-in.
With champion Ronda Rousey set to meet Miesha Tate, and Cat Zingano sidelined with a knee injury, the top female bantamweights available include Liz Carmouche, Alexis Davis and Amanda Nunes. Kaufman happens to hold a win over Carmouche and multiple victories against Davis.
Although she's ranked lower than Carmouche and Davis, Nunes may luck her way into a title shot eliminator with McMann's exit from the UFC Fight Night 27 card.
Not only is Nunes a fresh matchup for Kaufman, she is only days removed from a first-round stoppage win over Sheila Gaff, meaning she is already in prime condition and could be capable of jumping right back into camp for a fight on Aug. 28.
The UFC is looking for new challengers to break through as they build this women's bantamweight division. So, even though she isn't on an impressive run of wins, the UFC may be willing to give Nunes a chance to prove herself as a legitimate title threat in a bout with Kaufman.
Meanwhile, a bout with Nunes gives Kaufman a realistic shot at scoring a statement victory.
Ultimately, there's no matchup available for Kaufman that will generate the same amount of interest that a bout with McMann was going to. That's unfortunate for a former Strikeforce champion making her debut inside the Octagon. However, there are a few suitable replacements, and Nunes seems to be the most logical choice given the timing.
Sean Smith is a Featured MMA Columnist for Bleacher Report who has also had work promoted on UFC.com and TheMMACorner.com. Follow on Twitter @SeanSmithMMA.