Ronda Rousey made quick work of Sara McMann at UFC 170. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
With a single, perfectly placed knee strike, Ronda Rousey effectively shed the one-trick-pony label.
Rousey kept her stranglehold on the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight throne, as she stopped Sara McMann on a first-round technical knockout in the UFC 170 main event on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. A knee to the body crumpled McMann where she stood, leading referee Herb Dean to intervene 66 seconds into round one.
It was not a total loss for the challenger. She lit into Rousey with clean power punches during their initial exchange, but the champion moved into clinch range and pinned her along the fence. Standing elbows and knees provided Rousey with the opening she sought, as she drove her knee into McMann’s midsection and followed-up with punches for the finish.
Where Rousey goes from here is up for debate. A postponed showdown with the undefeated Cat Zingano still looms, though the No. 1 contender remains sidelined following reconstructive knee surgery. The injury, coupled with the recent death of Zingano’s husband, makes her a real wild card within the division. If Zingano is not yet fit to compete, it appears Alexis Davis has done enough to warrant consideration as Rousey’s next challenger. The 29-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt recorded her fifth straight victory with a split decision over Jessica Eye. However, neither Zingano nor Davis carries the box-office muscle of reigning Invicta Fighting Championships featherweight titleholder Cristiane Justino, who claims to have mustered the desire to downshift to 135 pounds for an opportunity to confront Rousey. Needless to say, the “Rowdy” one has plenty of options.
McMann still has plenty to offer the division. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist holds physical and mental advantages over many of her peers, and with only a handful of women’s bantamweights on the UFC roster, she figures to factor into the title discussion again soon. A chance to rebound from her first professional defeat could come in the form of a matchup with the loser of the forthcoming UFC on Fox 11 clash between Liz Carmouche and Miesha Tate.
In wake of UFC 170 “Rousey vs. McMann,” here are six other matchups that ought to be made:
Raphael Assuncao vs. Renan Barao: Though he lacks the widespread appeal of Barao’s previous opponent, Assuncao has emerged as the No. 1 contender for the Brazilian dynamo’s bantamweight belt. The 31-year-old Ascension MMA representative picked up his sixth straight win at the expense of previously unbeaten prospect Pedro Munhoz. Assuncao has not lost since dropping to 135 pounds, downing Munhoz, T.J. Dillashaw, Vaughan Lee, Mike Easton, Issei Tamura and Johnny Eduardo. One of MMA’s top pound-for-pound performers, Barao retained his championship with a first-round technical knockout over Urijah Faber on Feb. 1.
Daniel Cormier vs. Mauricio Rua-Dan Henderson winner: Few doubt that Cormier will become an elite light heavyweight, but his 79-second rout of short-notice replacement Patrick Cummins proved little. Originally slated to face former champion Rashad Evans, Cormier instead settled for the confident but untested Reign MMA export. Punches flew and Cummins fell, just as observers had predicted. Rua and Henderson will lock horns in a rematch at UFC Fight Night 39 on March 23 in Brazil.
Rory MacDonald vs. Jake Shields-Hector Lombard winner: MacDonald weathered a serious first-round ground offensive from Demian Maia to post a unanimous decision over the 2007 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist. The 24-year-old Tristar Gym representative bounced back nicely from his disappointing defeat to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167, reminding the MMA world why so many have him pegged as a future champion. Shields and Lombard will duke it out at UFC 171 on March 15.
Mike Pyle vs. Dong Hyun Kim-John Hathaway winner: Pyle has quietly rattled off nine wins in 12 outings, losing only to Jake Ellenberger, the aforementioned MacDonald and Matt Brown. Now 38, the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion proved he has plenty left in the tank, as he dismantled T.J. Waldburger in the third round of their welterweight showcase. Elbows and punches from the back mount sealed it for the man known as “Quicksand.” Kim and Hathaway will shoulder the UFC Fight Night 37 marquee on March 1 in China.
Stephen Thompson vs. Ryan LaFlare-John Howard winner: They call him “Wonderboy” for a reason. Thompson was sensational in dispatching “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner Robert Whittaker with punches 3:43 into the first round of their confrontation at 170 pounds. A searing straight right hand marked the beginning of the end for Whittaker, who had never before been stopped by strikes. LaFlare will put his undefeated record on the line against the resurgent Howard at UFC Fight Night 40 on April 11.
Zach Makovsky vs. John Moraga: Makovsky continued his climb on the flyweight ladder with a unanimous decision over Joshua Sampo. The former Bellator MMA titleholder looks like a new man at 125 pounds, and with champion Demetrious Johnson ripping through the weight class, Makovsky could soon find himself in position to challenge for UFC gold. Moraga, who splits his time between the MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports, last appeared at UFC Fight Night 35 in January, when he eked out a split decision over Dustin Ortiz.