Rousey vs. McMann: Breaking Down Sara McMann's Blueprint for Victory

Sebastian LenaAnalyst IFebruary 19, 2014

McMann (left) could once again be celebrating come Saturday.
McMann (left) could once again be celebrating come Saturday.Gregory Payan/Associated Press

When Ronda Rousey meets Sara McMann at UFC 170 on Saturday (10 p.m. ET on PPV), it will mark the first UFC main event featuring two Olympic medalists.

If McMann (7-0, 1-0 UFC) plays her cards right, the showdown could also be the venue for Rousey’s (8-0, 2-0 UFC) first career loss.

Sure, beating the current UFC Women’s bantamweight champion is easier said than done. However, there’s no doubt that McMann possesses the talent and abilities that none of Rousey’s previous opponents had.

With that said, here’s the blueprint McMann must follow in order to dethrone Rousey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday.


Survive the First Round

Rousey (left) has taken out many opponents with her vaunted armbar.
Rousey (left) has taken out many opponents with her vaunted armbar.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Rousey has made a habit out of getting the job done quickly.

Throughout her career, seven of the 27-year-old’s eight professional fights have been decided in the first round—all via armbar. In fact, five of her opponents couldn’t even last a minute.

That has all contributed to Rousey’s impressively low 3:24 average fight time.

If McMann has any hope of pulling off the upset, she must take a page out of the book of Rousey’s last opponent, Miesha Tate.

During their bout at UFC 168, Tate defied the odds by taking Rousey into the third round. She defended well against the armbars and used Rousey’s pace and aggressiveness against her.

Although Tate eventually succumbed to defeat, she successfully exposed a chink in Rousey’s armor.


Take it to Rousey Standing Up

It will be vital for McMann to turn this into a fistfight early on.

Given her success in beating opponents with her ground and pound, Rousey’s weakness in striking while upright has been overshadowed. According to her fighter profile on, the Riverside County, Calif., native only lands 61 percent of her strikes while avoiding just 50 percent of opponents’ strikes.

On the other hand, McMann is arguably the hardest striker in the division.

With a strong combination of kicks, punches and knees, the 33-year-old knows how to take it to her opponent. This was put on display during McMann’s domination of Shayna Bazler during their Invicta fight—she landed a whopping 61 strikes during the match.

It's no surprise that some pundits believe striking could be instrumental to the match's outcome:

If McMann can land some strong blows to Rousey early on it could swing the fight significantly in her favor.


Use Wrestling Background to Advantage

McMann (left) should pull from her wrestling roots.
McMann (left) should pull from her wrestling roots.HASAM SARBAKHSHIAN/Associated Press

A world-class freestyle wrestler, McMann’s crowning achievement was taking silver in the 2004 Olympic games. She also won gold in the Pan-American Games in 2003 and 2007.

With the biggest fight of her UFC career quickly approaching, McMann would be wise not to forget her roots.

While Rousey is a judo Olympian—she won bronze in the 2008 games—judo’s focus is mainly on throwing a standing opponent. In comparison, wrestling focuses more on controlling an opponent on the ground.

Still, many might be puzzled by the strategy of taking it to the mat against Rousey—all eight of her fights have been won by armbar submission.

However, don’t underestimate McMann’s versatility and strength on the ground. She can be just as lethal with her ground submission game.

If McMann happens to get caught up in Rousey’s dreaded armbar, she has the power and explosiveness to reverse that into a slam—think Rampage Jackson.

“I think that every other girl in the division has a very hard and long road to learning how to stop a high-level throw,” McMann said, per ESPN's Brett Okamoto. “I don’t have that same problem.”

With that kind of confidence, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise if McMann can do the unthinkable on Saturday night. 

After all, nobody is unbeatable. Not even Rousey.

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