Every time UFC women’s bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey enters the Octagon, it’s a big deal.
Her next dance in the cage is set for Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. Her opponent is fourth-ranked women’s bantamweight Sara McMann. Check out this amazing but sobering tweet from Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden:
Less than two months ago, Rousey won a thrilling rematch with bitter rival Miesha “Cupcake” Tate. The champion was extended beyond the first round for the first time in her career.
Ultimately she made Tate tap out to the armbar—just like in their first meeting and just like in every other Rousey bout in her mixed martial arts career.
On Saturday, she will be looking to collect another arm for her trophy case. McMann’s guns are pretty impressive, though. The struggle could be real in the main event.
Those expecting a war of words that preceded Rousey’s second clash with Tate might be disappointed in the buildup to this fight. Little time has passed since Rousey’s last fight, but the women have been downright pleasant and respectful to each other in every interview and public appearance.
Rousey holds McMann in high regard. Per Dave Doyle of Yahoo! Sports, Rousey said this about McMann’s athletic prowess at a media event promoting the fight: “I couldn't be more excited than to have an athlete on Sara's level to test myself against. It raises the whole level for everyone. I don't have a bad thing to say about her.”
Likewise, McMann has been non-confrontational with the champion. In an interview with Yael Grauer of Sherdog.com, she talked about Rousey getting a bad rap for her image:
I think people are getting way, way, way too worked up about her personality. Some people are treating it like they hate her. I’m like, really? There are people in this world who you should hate and there are pedophiles or people who beat up old people and take their money.
There are some rotten, despicable people who are orchestrating genocides in other countries, and yes, if you’re going to hate anyone, then by all means, hate them; but really to hate a girl just because what she says aggravates you?
I just don’t think it’s worthy of hate. It’s someone that you wouldn’t invite to your Christmas party, but worthy of hate? I don’t see it. I mean, I just think that it’s so blown out of proportion.
The love fest will end once the fight begins, but this is a new look for the hype of a Rousey fight.
The co-feature lost a ton of shine when “Suga” Rashad Evans was forced to pull out of his fight with friend and training partner Daniel “DC” Cormier.
Evans’ replacement is a little-known fighter named Patrick “Durkin” Cummins. If you just said, “Who," don't feel behind the curve.
Most MMA fans had a similar reaction when news spread about Cummins stepping in to face Cormier. They can only hope he’s competitive against a fighter who is more experienced and far more well-known.
If you’re looking for the information needed to tune in to watch UFC 170, as well as the card rundown and predictions, we got you covered.
There’s deeper analysis on the three biggest fights on the card just below the table and predictions for the Fight Night bonuses.
|UFC 170 - Saturday, Feb. 22 - Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas|
|UFC Fight Pass Preliminaries - 7 p.m. EST|
|Ernest "The Mad Titan" Chavez vs. Yosdenis "The Pink Panther" Cedeno||Lightweight||Cedeno by KO|
|Rafaello "Tractor" Oliveira vs. Erik "New Breed" Koch||Lightweight||Koch by KO|
|Fox Sports 1 Preliminaries - 8 p.m. EST|
|Zach "Fun Size" Makovsky vs. Josh "The Gremlin" Sampo||Flyweight||Sampo by submission|
|Cody "The Renegade" Gibson vs. Aljamain "Funk Master" Sterling||Bantamweight||Sterling by decision|
|Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro "The Young Punisher" Munhoz||Bantamweight||Assuncao by decision|
|Alexis Davis vs. Jessica "Evil" Eye||Women's Bantamweight||Davis by submission|
|Pay-Per-View Main Card - 10 p.m. EST|
|Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson||Welterweight||Thompson by decision|
|Mike "Quicksand" Pyle vs. TJ "The Dark Horse" Waldburger||Welterweight||Waldburger by decision|
|Rory "Ares" MacDonald vs. Demian Maia||Welterweight||MacDonald by decision|
|Daniel "DC" Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins||Light Heavyweight||Cormier by submission|
|UFC women's bantamweight champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann||Women's Bantamweight||McMann by decision|
|matchup information from UFC.com|
MacDonald vs. Maia
"Ares'" Last Chance to Be Special
For years, we’ve heard folks rave about MacDonald’s all-around skill set and killer instinct. At some point he was supposed to ascend to a level that would put him on a collision course with his mentor, UFC legend Georges-St. Pierre.
When he was just 20 years old, he suffered a setback when he was stopped by “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit at UFC 115. Condit is one of the era’s best and MacDonald was still so green that the loss was excused and chalked up to youth.
After that bout, "Ares" strung together five straight—mostly impressive—wins. He beat Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle, Che Mills, BJ Penn and Jake Ellenberger. You won’t find a much better list of victims in such a short span of time.
In Nov. 2013, he ran into a determined and refocused “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and lost a split decision. One judge scored it for MacDonald, but it seemed clear that the only round Ares won was the second.
Though he’s still just 24 years old, it’s time for him to separate himself and show that he’s the machine—with almost no weaknesses—that most people believe he is.
Maia is a great submissions fighter who has worked very hard to improve his striking. That said, he’s 12 years older than MacDonald, not as good of an athlete and has a reach that is 4.5” shorter. It’s hard to see a scenario where he beats MacDonald.
If it does happen, the promise of MacDonald ever becoming a superstar is over.
Most of the rabid MMA community at Tapology.com also believes MacDonald will win on Saturday. According the poll on the MacDonald vs. Maia fight page, 73 percent of the voters believe Ares will come out on top.
Cormier vs. Cummins
Is This Really a Co-Main Event?
The short and sensible answer is no.
Rearranging the card to put MacDonald vs. Maia behind Cormier vs. Cummins is just semantics. The ho-hum bout is still on the card.
At the presser, Cormier tried to make us care or believe there was some genuine hostility between him and Cummins. Check out this shove that looks like it should have been on a bad episode of WWE NXT:
Is he really pretending to bite his bottom lip to conceal his intensity?
UFC head man Dana White has done everything he can to put this bout over. At this point he really has no other choice. White told ESPN this about Evans’ injury, replacement and Cummins’ Cinderella chances:
That's the fight business. Listen, if this guy is coming in and nobody knows him, whatever, and Cormier is who we think he is, he should smoke him then. If not, I don't know. I like it. You want to talk about a 'Rocky' story? This kid is the real Rocky. I like it.
Well, going along with that analogy, Cormier is going to be Apollo Creed in the original Rocky movie. If anyone remembers the result of that bout—in between all the cries for Adrian and dramatic imagery—Rocky lost and was just happy to have gone the distance.
That could be the case in this one, minus the internal bleeding from Creed...err, Cormier.
Despite the obvious gap in experience and opposition, Cummins hasn’t fought since May 2013.
The underdog could shock the world, but nothing in the video of his bouts suggests that will happen.
He’s a big, strong guy, but Cormier has beaten plenty of men with that physical description. On Saturday, he’ll beat another one.
E. Spencer Kyte of Fox Sports writes: “While Cormier was preparing for Rashad Evans, Cummins was working at a coffee house, where he was fired for taking Dana White’s call. It’s a fun story and a cute little career anecdote, but “DC” rolls in this hastily put together co-main event.”
Looks like we’re all in agreement here.
Rousey vs. McMann
Rousey’s Time to Lose Has Come
The Rowdy One’s win over Tate was the most impressive of her career. She faced a physical and emotional test and passed with flying colors.
She proved her mettle as a fighter at UFC 168.
This bout with McMann is a different situation. Rousey’s judo and grappling skill are talents that no other opponent could overcome.
Though she’s not the most physically powerful woman at 135 pounds, she has been so far ahead of every opponent from a technique standpoint that she’s been able to ride her bread and butter almost exclusively.
McMann is an Olympic medalist in wrestling and physically more powerful. She’ll be the first opponent that Rousey won’t be able to toss around like a rag doll. Once she locks up with her and sees that she doesn’t have the same advantage that she is used to, the real fight will begin.
Does Rousey have the stand-up skill to win a fight without her grappling?
My answer to that is no.
McMann may not be able to finish Rousey with a submission or even knock her out, but she will pound the champion and make her the one who is simply trying to survive.
Sporting News’ Hugh Citron is part of the site's Oddsmakers’ team. He calls McMann "a live dog":
McMann is an Olympic silver medalist in wrestling. She could pose some real problems for Rousey if the champ can’t get her to the ground. If Sara can keep this fight standing and turn it into somewhat of a slugfest, she has a chance to pull off an upset at a real nice price. Rousey is -450 favorite, but McMann is getting +350 odds.
Injured MMA fighter Julianna Pena also thinks the major upset is coming. She thinks McMann’s wrestling will trump Rousey’s judo. Pena told Damon Martin of Fox Sports:
Wrestling beats Judo every single time. If there was a wrestler out there to do it, Sara McMann is the one to be able to put it into motion.
She's a silver medalist in the Olympics and she's as good a wrestler as you're going to get, and she's as worthy a competitor and ready for this competition as anybody. I think she stands a really good chance of winning this fight. If anybody stands a chance at winning, it's Sara McMann because of her wrestling background.
We shall see. Pena and I will look like either fools or geniuses—or maybe just lucky.
Performance of the Night Predictions
Performance of the Night 1: McMann
If all goes as predicted and McMann wins this fight, there’s no way she doesn’t win one of the performance of the night bonuses. Think Chris Weidman over Anderson Silva, with just a little less drama.
Performance of the Night 2: Cormier
DC has easy money in front of him. His trimmed-down physique and the inexperience of his opponent give Cormier a huge advantage. Submissions aren’t usually his thing, but once he shows his dominance as a grappler, he’ll get opportunities to go for the finish on the ground.
He’ll garner a submission via strikes—which he’s obtained in a bout before—or grab his first via tapout to a maneuver.
Fight of the Night: Rousey vs. McMann
Rousey is coming off a FOTN performance against Tate. McMann’s wrestling prowess should push Rousey to show more of her complete game.
This one is going to be competitive at the very least. If McMann pulls the upset, the odds it gets FOTN would go through the roof.
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