Sara McMann, No. 4-ranked bantamweight, will return to the cage for the first time since losing her title bid against Ronda Rousey. The former Olympian will need to look impressive if she hopes to rejoin the title race, but she has no easy task this Saturday.
The former title contender told Fox Sports' Marc Raimondi that she wants a rematch with Rousey. She needs to remain focused on the task at hand against her next opponent.
McMann's opponent will be Lauren Murphy. Murphy is making her UFC debut with a perfect record 8-0 record.
Murphy did win the Invicta bantamweight championship, but that was due to a knee injury by Miriam Nakamoto. Murphy still performed well in the fight, but it was not a clean victory over a dangerous striker. Even with that noted, Murphy has rose from obscurity to become on of the best in the world at 135 pounds.
McMann has a tough task ahead of her.
Stylistically, McMann is a strong favorite in the fight. Murphy is a strong grappler but not the most skilled wrestler or striker. McMann, on paper, should be able to take her down time and again in this fight.
Murphy won't give up the takedown that easily, and she has a solid jiu-jitsu background. She just has yet to employ it in her fights.
During her 8-0 run, Murphy stopped the first five of her opponents by TKO. With a step up in competition during her Invicta run, she got two decision wins under her belt before the unfortunate injury to Nakamoto in their title fight. It is arguable that her submission game is her greatest asset, and she has yet to bring it out.
Also, you should not be surprised if this fight is largely contested on the feet. McMann has shown in the past that she invites scraps.
She enjoys them. During her stint outside the UFC, McMann got into several stand-up battles.
Neither McMann nor Murphy are the most developed strikers, but both possess good power. If she stands in the pocket against Murphy, she is likely to take several damaging shots in the process. It will not be an effective strategy, but McMann invites the brawl from time to time.
The odds tell the tale—McMann is a minus-350 favorite heading into Saturday, according to Odds Shark. Those are accurate odds but also should show that Murphy may be getting overlooked in her UFC debut.
If that's the case, Murphy could announce herself to the MMA world in a big way and inject her name into the discussion of title contenders.
McMann will likely rely on her wrestling background to control Murphy, but it will not be as easy as some may expect. Murphy is a talented and tough fighter who will push McMann in this fight. It could be just what McMann needs to rebound from her most recent outing.
If only this fight was not buried on Fox Sports 2. It is an intriguing battle against two of the best bantamweights going today. Will McMann dominate and keep her spot in the upper echelon, or will Murphy steal her place?
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