Sara McMann vs. Lauren Murphy Set for Ultimate Fight Night 47 in Maine

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2014

USA Today

Sara McMann (7-1) will return to the cage for the first time since losing to Ronda Rousey at UFC 170, and she will do so against Lauren Murphy (8-0).

McMann, ranked as the No. 4 contender in the UFC, suffered her first loss in the February bout against Rousey. The former Olympic silver medalist was thought to be Rousey's toughest test, but a knee to the body spelled her doom.

Murphy, ranked as the No. 8 best bantamweight by, will make her promotional debut at Ultimate Fight Night 47.

The Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder won the belt at the last Invicta event in December. It was a TKO win by injury against Miriam Nakamoto. The talented striker was winning the fight, but Murphy battled back in the third frame. It was in that third round that Nakamoto injured her knee, and despite coming out of the fourth round, she could not continue.

Murphy's other two notable wins in the division are against Kaitlin Young and Sarah D'Alelio. She has slowly but surely climbed the ranks at 135 pounds.

As the UFC signed bantamweights for the roster throughout 2014, Murphy sat on the sidelines awaiting a call from either Invicta or the UFC. It was a curious exclusion from the UFC's roster as a top-10-caliber fighter, but the wrong has been righted.

Murphy is a strong wrestler in her own right, but drawing an Olympic medalist will test her in her Octagon debut. She finished her first five professional bouts by TKO.

McMann may be able to rely on her wrestling once more in this fight, but against another strong grappler, it may prove more beneficial to test her improved striking. She needs to show progression in her fight game and produce exciting fights to convince the fans and matchmakers that she is worthy of another title fight.

Former Invicta FC champion Murphy will have to mix things up against McMann. She cannot employ her same wrestling-based fight style against McMann. The discrepancy in their wrestling credentials is too wide. Her wrestling will only be effective if she can mix in her strikes and make McMann respect her hands.

This is currently only the second booked fight between top-10 fighters in the division. The other high-profile bout will be between Miesha Tate and Rin Nakai at Ultimate Fight Night: Japan on September 20.

With not many big fights in the division, it puts a spotlight on McMann and Murphy. As the division is still developing depth, no fighter is too many bouts from a shot at the championship. A win will put the winner right in the mix for a title shot.

After another impressive title performance by Rousey, the emphasis will be on building another contender for her to defend her title against. McMann vs. Murphy will be a step in the right direction to putting another contender in the wings.

Ultimate Fight Night 47 will hit Bangor, Maine, on August 16 from the Cross Insurance Center. The event will air on Fox Sports 1. It will be headlined by a light heavyweight showcase between Ryan Bader and Ovince Saint Preux.