Unlike many before her, Sara McMann was not a victim of the dreaded "Octagon jitters" in her Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut against Sheila Gaff at UFC 159 on Saturday night (April 27, 2013).
The 2004 Olympic silver medalist in wrestling had no choice but to have a fast and furious start to her UFC career as Gaff charged forward aggressively at the opening bell.
Unfortunately for "The German Tank," she walked right into McMann's world and was helplessly pinned in the crucifix position minutes into the fight and finished off by (technical) knockout in the first round.
McMann's UFC debut couldn't have been any more perfect, and the 32-year-old admits even she was surprised by both the lack of nerves going into the fight and how well she performed.
"I felt shockingly good," McMann said at the UFC 159 post-fight press conference (watch it here). "I kind of with all the talk and the media, they're like, ‘Octagon jitters.' I had like six interviews in a row talking about it and I was like, ‘Oh man, maybe I'm missing something, maybe I am going to get it.'"
She didn't get it though. Once McMann hit her locker room her years of experience in high-level athletic competitions took over and excitement --not nerves-- fueled her as she waited for her turn to step in the Octagon for the first time.
"I think having competed for so long, once I started my warm up I was good to go," McMann said. "I was ready to fight. I was like, ‘Come on guys, hurry up and finish so I can get out there and fight.'"
And fight she did.
McMann became the first women to stop Gaff with strikes in her 16-fight career, sending a message to any future opponents that she is a force to be reckoned with in the women's bantamweight division and will not let something like "Octagon jitters" get in her way of reaching the top.
For more news and notes on UFC 159, check out our complete event archive here.