McMann (Twitter: @sara_mcmann) accomplished an outstanding wrestling career that amounted to dozens of medals and trophies. She made the crossover to MMA in May 2011, where she defeated Christina Marks via rear-naked choke in her first professional MMA bout. She has since compiled a record of 5-0, most recently defeating Hitomi Akano at Pro Elite: “Grove vs. Minowa” on Jan. 21 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
With an undefeated win streak as a bargaining chip, McMann is finally able to lock down a bout without the hindrances she encountered in the beginning.
“I was frustrated at the days when fighters used to pull out and not having people step up to the challenge, but they’re behind me now,” McMann explained to Hector Castro and Mike Steczkowski on Darce Side Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “One of the limitations I had when I first started fighting was that I couldn’t fight some of the better girls because the commission wouldn’t allow it when I was 0-0. That kind of gave people a little bit more of an out and an excuse to say, ‘Yeah, I would take a fight against her,’ but they know that they’d have 13 to 18 fights and no commission was going to approve that. That allowed them to accept fights, but not actually have to fulfill and step up to the plate and take the fight because they just wouldn’t be allowed. But, now that I’m 5-0, I’m pretty much ready to fight any girl that is in my weight class and we’ve been making a lot of calls.”
McMann is looking for bigger fights, but not necessarily the bigger show.
The 2004 Summer Olympics senior women’s freestyle silver medalist has competed in less popular organizations such as Pro Elite and Titan Fighting Championships thus far in her MMA career. Strikeforce is arguably the most significant promotion to include female mixed martial arts bouts. They have produced the most prevalent competitors in WMMA and McMann intends to enjoy a career in the organization when the time is right.
“I could actually sign with Strikeforce at any point that I wanted because they are definitely interested,” McMann admitted. “They were really happy with my management because we want to gain more experience. I’m not just somebody who wants to come in and only have, predominantly, one skill-set and passable on jiu-jitsu and the striking. I really want the experience because by the time that I go to Strikeforce, I want to be dominating and I want to be putting on unbelievable shows while dominating in all areas.”
While McMann is competing for her chance on the big stage, she has noticed some of her counterparts taking a different route.
Ronda Rousey has been verbally sparring with Strikeforce female bantamweight champion Miesha Tate since her victory over Julia Budd and it got the Judo Olympian a title match. McMann is aware of Rousey’s antics and she is not bothered by them, but as a former Olympian herself, she feels there is a more humble way to get to the top.
“I definitely have a pedigree that I could have gone the same exact route and I could have said the same things and I would have gotten the same attention,” McMann said. “I just don’t have a lot of respect for it. I’m perfectly willing to work my way up the ladder because I don’t want to skip over girls. I don’t want to take away from the girls that have put years into this. I want to fight them and say, ‘Don’t take my word for it that I deserve to be here, fight me and I’ll show you.’ I could have gone that route, but it’s not an option for me, it’s not who I am.”
McMann said that Rousey will most likely earn more money than her until she acquires a title shot, but she would rather get the experience from climbing the divisional ladder, as opposed to the payday. She said Pro Elite pays her really good money, plus she has the luxury of competing in other promotions due to her non-exclusive contract. If the opportunity rose for her to face a Strikeforce top competitor in a one fight deal, McMann could accept it if she chose.
The marketability of two former Olympians doing battle would be an easy promotion for the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce. McMann agrees her and Rousey would be a highly marketable bout, but if history repeats itself she is unsure if the Judoka would consent to the match up.
“My first pro fight, we were searching everywhere and I was offered a fight against Ronda at a catch-weight of 140 (pounds),” McMann said. “Monte (Cox) called me and I said I would take it because I really couldn’t find an opponent. I thought, ‘Another Olympic medalist, she’s going to step up to the plate.’ Then he called me back and said, ‘They’re really trying to talk her into it, her managers and her trainers, and she just keeps refusing the fight.’ I was really shocked by that because I’ve even seen video of her calling out Cyborg (Santos) and calling out Gina Carano and saying she wasn’t impressed woman’s MMA. I was like, ‘What’s this girl doing?’”
Nonetheless, McMann did find a first fight, plus four more and she continuously wins.
McMann is not about to take to social media and call out her next opponent. Instead, she will wait patiently for her opposition to be named and then say what she has to say on the canvas.
“I like my fighting speak for itself,” McMann said. “I don’t have to talk about how great I am and all these wonderful things about me for days and days. I’ll show up to the fight and I’m going to come in there and do exactly what I said I was going to do.”