The battle of the two Olympians, who will walk away with the belt?
Sara McMann will never be Ronda Rousey, and the UFC and its fans are about to find out whether that’s a good thing.
McMann, 33, is easing back into a spotlight she left when she competed in the 2004 Athens Games as a freestyle wrestler for the new U.S. women’s team and won a silver medal.
She said she couldn’t sit down for a meal without answering questions about the competition’s novelty.
The glare is less bright as she waits out the final days before another pinnacle in her athletic career, a meeting with UFC women’s bantamweight titleholder Ronda Rousey (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) in the headliner of Saturday’s UFC 170 event in Las Vegas.
Her reaction to it, however, remains the same.
McMann (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) might share Rousey’s Olympic pedigree (the UFC champ was a bronze medalist in judo in the 2008 Games), but she is not nearly as comfortable being the center of attention.
UFC champ Rousey believes desire will give her the edge over challenger Sara McMann.
“On paper, she’s an amazing athlete, and athletically you could say we’re very close to equals, and that’s why people are so excited about this fight,” Rousey said.
“But I think that I’m more of a fighter than she is.”
Rousey, a former Olympic judo bronze medalist, looks to defend her UFC women’s bantamweight belt for the third time.
Meanwhile, McMann, who earned an Olympic silver in wrestling, fights for the second time under the UFC banner and looks to take the belt away from “Rowdy” Rousey, who has been called the “biggest star in the sport” by no less than UFC President Dana White.
On paper, the bout could prove to be the most difficult test of Rousey’s career to date.
But the fiery champion, who has long made lifestyle sacrifices to compete at the highest level of her chosen athletic field, believes McMann – one of a select few mothers on the UFC roster – can’t possibly be willing to pay the same price Rousey is in order to hold the belt.