Ronda Rousey scores first KO, stops Sara McMann in first round
FEB 23, 2014 12:17a ET
After all the buildup, after the Olympian vs. Olympian story line, the two unbeatens, and the odds moving in the challenger's way, the matchup between Ronda Rousey and Sara McMann proved anticlimactic and one-sided.
The "Rousey effect" is still in effect, although with a twist. Armbars? Those are so 2013. In for 2014 are knockouts. Rousey scored the first one of her career, ending McMann's night with a knee to the liver just 66 seconds into the UFC 170 main event.
The stoppage by referee Herb Dean led to a chorus of boos from the Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd that wanted to see McMann given a chance to continue, but Rousey (9-0) said that type of finish was the plan all the way along.
"Yeah, actually I promised my coaches this time that I was going to drop her with a body shot," she said. "Called it and trained it a lot. It was a goal I had in this fight."
McMann (7-1), who popped back up to her feet immediately after his stoppage, gracefully accepted his decision, saying the referee was tasked with the job of protecting the combatants.
“We were really focusing a lot on bodyshots and knees a lot. I felt like that would really open up takedowns a lot more if we focused on the striking first.”
"I felt like I couldn't move right when it landed, a split-second after that," she said. "When I hit the ground, I got my bearings back. Once I heard his voice, I felt like I could move good."
For the short time that it lasted, the bout was filled with action, as the two fired off power strikes at each other from the opening bell, leading to a tie-up against the cage. Both fighters landed offense from the position, but Rousey's dirty boxing appeared a little sharper and more dangerous, and she scored with a hook shortly before finishing the fight.
Lost in the unpopularity of the ending might be the advances in her in close-striking game, which aligns well with her ability to throw opponents from the position.
"To be honest I don't really remember very well what happens in the fight right afterward but I know that we spent a lot of time training for when we're in the clinch, and not going for the takedown right away," she said. "We were really focusing a lot on bodyshots and knees a lot. I felt like that would really open up takedowns a lot more if we focused on the striking first."
In winning, Rousey set a record for the fewest days in between UFC title defenses. It was just 56 days ago when she submitted Miesha Tate in the third round of their UFC 168 match.
“I'll probably get bored in a couple of weeks, but whenever they need me, I'll fight.”
Prior to the match, Rousey said she expected to next return around the summertime and she reiterated that after the bout although she noted she's always told Dana White she's willing to fight on 24 hours' notice.
Rousey has two upcoming Hollywood commitments, taping her part in the upcoming "Entourage" movie beginning in mid-March, and then the new "Expendables" comes out in August, which she'll be tasked with promoting.
"I'll probably get bored in a couple of weeks, but whenever they need me, I'll fight," she said. "Late summer seems like a cool time, but I might want a fight sooner than that."
Although an opponent is currently undetermined, two possibilities are Alexis Davis, who won on the UFC 170 undercard, and Cat Zingano, who is still recovering from knee surgery, as well as the tragic death of her husband Mauricio.
Rousey said she feels that Zingano deserves the fight if she's ready. One name we can rule out? Cris "Cyborg" Justino, who White said would have to fight at 135 outside the UFC before he gives her a chance to come into the promotion.
So the Rousey show rolls on, the biggest star in MMA, still burning bright.