Sara McMann (Twitter: @Sara_McMann) caused a stir in the sport of mixed martial arts before she even stepped in the cage.
Granted, she did become the first American woman to receive a medal in Olympic women’s wrestling when she won the silver at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece. Her pedigree alone speaks volumes, but now McMann (2-0) is looking to back it up.
And the 30-year-old South Carolina native has the chance to do just that as she takes on the toughest opponent of her career in Tonya Evinger (8-5) on Friday at Titan FC 19 in Kansas City, Mo.
“I think it’s going to be a really good match up. I think our stand up is going to be a little more showcased,” McMann told White Belt Radio on the MMADieHards Radio Network. “I think it’s going to be difficult for her to take me down with my wrestling and difficult for me to take her down since we both have that background. I think both of us are pretty well rounded on the mat as well.”
McMann made her pro debut this year and this will be her third fight in nearly two months. The 27-year-old Evinger is a major step up in competition. An Elite XC veteran, Evinger has taken on tough opponents like current Strikeforce fighters Gina Carano, Julie Kedzie and Alexis Davis. Meanwhile, McMann’s first two opponents had a combined 2-6 record. Granted, MaMann’s already had a tough enough time merely getting fights, and a win over Evinger would elevate her status.
McMann signed on with ProElite, is rumored to take part on their Aug. 27 Hawaiian event against Raquel Pa’aluhi and says she could fight five more times this year. As of now she has her sights set on Strikeforce in the future.
“Strikeforce is where the highest level of women are at this point so that’s where I want to be,” McMann said. “If another promotion comes up and has better fighters, then I want to be there. I’ll go where the toughest girls are.”
McMann, who occasionally trains with the elite members of Team Thirsty, hopes to follow in the footsteps of her wrestling-dominant teammates. She’s seen what Ben Askren, Daniel Cormier, Gray Maynard and “King” Mo Lawal can do with their elite wrestling abilities, but she’s not banking on just takedowns.
“I definitely hope that I will be able to get my takedowns at will, I’m just not relying on it,” McMann said. “It’s my hope that my takedowns and the fact that I’m a higher level wrestler helps me in this fight, but I’m not just going to bank that I can take everyone down. I’m going to explore the other aspects of the MMA game. Eventually I want to be well rounded in every area.”
When she gets there, it’s certain to cause another stir.