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Event: UFC 257 (Jan. 23rd)
The implied odds I made for this fight are McMann -233/70% chance to win. Let’s discuss!
On paper, this is an excellent style matchup for her. She is the far superior wrestler because of her very high pedigree (i.e., Olympic Freestyle Silver medalist) and her overall superior technical takedown ability inside the MMA octagon (i.e., trip, single-leg, and body lock). Whereas, Pena has struggled to defend takedowns in the UFC (i.e., taken down easily by Montano) and has even ended up in the bottom position when offensively pursuing takedowns (i.e., against Montano).
In terms of the grappling on the mat, Sara is powerful in top position as she has strong top control (i.e., excellent shoulder pressure), looks to advance position in pursuit of the finish via ground & pound (i.e., from mounted crucifix), and/or submission (i.e., arm-triangle choke), and is positionally sound (i.e., will sink in both hooks if presented the back). Pena had her back taken by Montano and reversed by De Randamie & put in an arm triangle attempt, a concern heading into a matchup against McMann. McMann is a much stronger and more dangerous grappler than both of those fighters who Pena struggled with, so I favor McMann in the grappling significantly though she will need to stay aware from the top position as Pena may have opportunities to fish for submissions.
She is a grappler first, but McMann is the better overall striker here as she is more technical, moves better, and is more threatening.
All in all, an excellent style matchup for McMann. She has lost fights in the past despite winning early on dominantly (i.e., against Viera, Reneau), which is factored into my handicapping for this fight. Nonetheless, she wins this fight at least 70% of the time. The 30% of the time she doesn’t win is from a submission from Pena.