Sara McMann has shared the deciding factor that made her choose to join Bellator after almost ten years with the UFC.
The 42-year-old kicked off 2022 with a win when she defeated Karol Rosa in March, but a pair of cancelled fights with Aspen Ladd in the second half of the year resulted in an end to her contract and a decision to test free agency. McMann announced her signing with Bellator earlier this week, making her the latest in a long line of former UFC fighters to make the switch over to what many consider the world’s #2 MMA promotion.
McMann’s decision was somewhat surprising considering how long she’d been with the UFC, as well as the fact that she was coming off a win and was 2-1 overall since 2020. In a recent interview with MMA Mania, the 42-year-old discussed her decision to move on from the promotion she’d called home since 2013.
“The biggest chip for me of all this decision was whether or not I wanted to move up to featherweight,” McMann said. While I was in the UFC, I had debated i,t too. Not that I can’t make 135, ’cause obviously I can every time. But the longer you make a weight class and that cut, the more I feel like your body kind of starts to resist you a little bit. It doesn’t want to be too lean. It starts to get a little bit more difficult to get your body to cooperate.
“And that’s why you see people who had previously made weight without a problem, and it gets progressively hard, and they start missing weight. Your body almost – it’s like a self-preservation thing and it starts to resist you, so it’s even harder to work off those pounds. And I never had too much of a problem. But I felt like – in my heart I was like, if I have to go a 25-minute grueling fight, is that weight cut going to affect me? And I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t know.”
“I Still Wanted To Be In The Premier Weight Class”
McMann joined the UFC when the promotion had only recently added their first women’s division, but the promotion now has four women’s weight classes including featherweight.
Amanda Nunes is currently the champion of both the women’s bantamweight and featherweight divisions, but women’s featherweight in the UFC doesn’t even have any official rankings. According to McMann, she considered moving up in weight while with the UFC but ultimately decided there just weren’t enough opportunities available.
McMann challenged Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title at UFC 170. (Zuffa LLC)
“I thought about it. Especially if I got a big opportunity in like a short-notice title fight or things like that if somebody dropped out last minute. That would be – ’cause I’m like I could make weight no problem. But like I said, I still wanted to be in the premier weight class in the UFC, not the one that they don’t seem – they don’t even, if you looked up “UFC Featherweight Women’s,” you can’t find anything, you just see a picture of Amanda Nunes and nothing else. I don’t know if that would be a smart move.”
McMann began fighting in MMA in 2011 after previously claiming a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. After winning her UFC debut in 2013 she challenged Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title at UFC 170, and the 42-year-old was a reliable mainstay of the promotion’s bantamweight division until her recent move to Bellator.
What do you think of McMann’s explanation for why she chose to leave the UFC for Bellator?
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