Sara McMann came up short at UFC 170 against Ronda Rousey and was all class in defeat.
The Las Vegas crowd booed the stoppage, but McMann didn't use it as an excuse. She complimented the champion, mentioned that it is referee Herb Dean's responsibility to protect the fighters and said that she would came back to fight whomever the UFC wanted.
The stoppage by Dean keeps McMann high on the list of potential challengers to Rousey. The fans were not pleased by it, and thus it keeps her as a credible option for the UFC moving forward. However, with Cat Zingano and Alexis Davis waiting for their shot, McMann will need at least one more win.
Here are three options for McMann's next foe.
Winner of Sarah Kaufman vs. Shayna Baszler
Sarah Kaufman is ranked No. 6 in the division, and Baszler sits just outside the Top 15. The two will meet at The Ultimate Fighter: Nations finale.
McMann and Kaufman were scheduled for an August 2013 meeting, but McMann had to pull out for undisclosed reasons. If Kaufman were to beat Baszler, Kaufman vs. McMann would be a good choice for a UFC title eliminator between two top contenders.
As for Baszler, she fought McMann at Invicta FC 2 in a very close fight that could have gone her way. It would be an interesting rematch for McMann to take in the interim as Rousey defends her gold against another challenger.
Whoever comes away with a win between Kaufman and Baszler deserves a top-tier opponent like McMann.
Eye, ranked No. 5 in the division, was also on the UFC 170 card. She lost a narrow decision to Davis.
The UFC could pit the two against each other in a key bantamweight tilt for later this year.
It makes sense from a timing perspective and where they are both currently in the division. However, I am not so sure the winner would be in title contention due to both coming off losses. For that reason, the UFC might consider not making the bout.
The winner of Eye vs. McMann would still have to fight once more to earn a shot. Is that what the UFC wants for McMann?
Alexis Davis or Cat Zingano
Whichever top contender does not get the Rousey fight later this year is the top option for McMann.
The UFC could place Davis vs. McMann as the co-main event to a Rousey title defense, and it would play as a title eliminator. Or, if Zingano cannot come back to challenge right away, McMann vs. Zingano could be on any main card.
Davis or Zingano most certainly has next, and whichever does not get Rousey needs to fight and stay active in the interim. McMann is the best possible option due to her standing in the division.
The UFC would instantly have the next challenger waiting in the wings.