Sara McMann has sought out challenge after challenge throughout her athletic career. That trend continued following her latest win over Karol Rosa at UFC Columbus this past March 2022.
Rebounding off a 2021 loss to now-champion, Julianna Pena, after the win, McMann made it clear she wanted to climb back up the rankings by taking on a former champion. Specifically, the former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling set her sights on Germaine de Randamie, a feared striker whose last victory came via submission over Pena (watch highlights).
“I called her out after my fight and I don’t feel like I was disrespectful at all,” McMann told MMA Mania. “I was calling her out because I just was asking to fight her. She’s one of the top-ranked girls and I even called her out and I was like, ‘Hey, man, she’s a Muay Thai world champ, a former UFC champ,’ I want to fight the best. I don’t have forever to fight, I want the top people.
“I kept getting people who were below my ranking or right at my ranking,” she continued. “Man, I can’t improve if I’m only fighting close to that. I want the higher-ranked girls. So really, if she had been lower-ranked, I just wouldn’t even have paid attention to her.”
McMann, 41, didn’t get the fight with de Randamie and she was taken out of the official Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight rankings at the end of 2021. When asked the reasoning for her departure, UFC President, Dana White, gave no specific reason but noted it was personal and that he didn’t feel comfortable speaking on the matter.
As a result, it led to speculation of retirement looming for “The Iron Lady.” Hearing rumblings of such, McMann took to Instagram to address the situation before de Randamie responded saying; “I’m not retired, stop the bulls—t.”
“I actually asked another fighter and I was like, ‘Hey, do you know anything about her?’ and she’s like, ‘Yeah, from what I understand, she’s retired,” McMann said. “So I wasn’t just making things up, I was like, ‘Okay. Dang, if she’s retired that makes sense why I haven’t heard anything.’ People were asking when I’m gonna fight Germaine. Well, I would but I just assumed and left it up to [UFC Matchmaker] Mick [Maynard] and them. So when I posted that, I posted it not in a way to B.S. or provoke because I genuinely believed that.
“To get her response it was like ... don’t talk to me like I’m one of these little girls. I’m not. I’m a grown woman,” she continued. “I know you know that I called you out. You can say, ‘No, I don’t want to fight you or yes, I’ll fight you.’ But don’t now come and talk all big and bad whenever I said something that was incorrect and I even posted to her, ‘Look, nobody’s more happy than me that you’re not retired.’ (laughs) But I wasn’t trying to start whatever drama. I have an entire career where I’m not starting drama so I think that I should have a little bit more leeway when it comes to stuff like that but that’s just what I had thought. I wasn’t the only person who thought that.”
Come October, it will have been a full two years since de Randamie’s last appearance against Pena. Ultimately, McMann sees the whole ordeal as a strategy by the inaugural UFC Featherweight titleholder.
“I think she is honestly just sitting around waiting while we all fight each other then she just wants to step in and fight Pena and I don’t think they should do that,” McMann said. “I don’t think that that’s right. No, you can fight some of us and she said she would fight me so, I guess she can put her money where her mouth is.”
Regardless of how things shake out atop the Bantamweight ranks, McMann is still hopeful she can dance with “GDR” at some point, it will just have to come after her upcoming bout on Aug. 13, 2022, at UFC San Diego.
McMann is matched with a fellow talented grappler, the No. 7-ranked Aspen Ladd, who is one spot ahead of her in the rankings. A win for the former title challenger would get her back on a win streak for the first time since 2017.
Despite her age, McMann has shown no signs of slowing down or intent to retire, as evidenced by her last time out. She admits to having continually said “just a couple more years” since she was 36, but at this stage, McMann just intends to keep fighting for as long as she physically can or until the desire fades.
“I think it’s a really good fight,” McMann said of Ladd. “I think if I had my choice, I always prefer grapplers. I think I just like it in that area and then I know that they prefer it in that area too so it’s much more likely to go there. So, I’m a little bit more excited to go against grapplers than I am strikers who will do what they can to keep it from going there. It’s nice to have more of someone willing to engage. Because when they just kind of hold you and lock you down and kind of hope for a stand-up, it’s harder to really break the fight open. But if you have somebody else who is attacking from different positions, it gives you more opportunity as well. So I’m happy about the match-up.”
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