UFC Fight Night 73 Preview: Sara McMann vs Amanda Nunes

AMANDA-NUNESThe main card of UFC Fight Night 73 features a women’s bantamweight contest between two top 10 fighters, Sara McMann and Amanda Nunes. McMann, the #4 ranked fighter in the division, is coming off a decision loss to Miesha Tate in January. That fight was especially troubling for Sara, as she dominated the first round but made several key errors in the second and third rounds that ended up costing her the fight. McMann has now lost two out of her last three fights and has had a rather underwhelming UFC Career thus far. Nunes, the #7 ranked fighter in the division, is coming off a complete thrashing of Shayna Baszler in March and has won three out of her last four fights. Sara McMann (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC, -255 favorite) McMann is right up there with Ronda Rousey in terms of pure athleticism in women’s mixed martial arts. She was the 2004 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling, which is a tremendous accomplishment for any athlete. After the end of her wrestling career, McMann transitioned to mixed martial arts. She started her career by racking up wins in various promotions across the country. Her biggest fight up until that point came when she signed with the Invicta Fighting Championships in 2012 and was matched up against veteran Shayna Baszler. McMann won the fight via unanimous decision and ultimately found herself the beneficiary of a UFC contract. McMann’s UFC career has been up and down thus far. Her debut against Sheila Gaff was very impressive, as she won via first round technical knockout. She was then thrown to the wolves, as she was matched up with UFC Champion Ronda Rousey. McMann lost in just over a minute, which was a crushing blow to her. Things did not get better for Sara in her next two UFC fights, as she barely squeaked by Lauren Murphy and lost a decision to Miesha Tate this past January in a fight she was dominating until she surprisingly got outgrappled in the last two rounds. McMann looks to get back on track with a dominant win over Nunes this Saturday. McMann’s greatest attributes are her athleticism, strength, and wrestling. She has also developed some pretty fast and powerful hands that were on display in her most recent fight against Tate. Sara’s wrestling is obviously top-notch, as she has great single and double leg takedowns, as well as trips from the clinch. Her biggest problem has been seamlessly transitioning from striking to grappling. She can either do one or the other, she has trouble integrating all aspects of mixed martial arts into her game. Further, Sara can often get takedowns but tends to struggle to do much when she achieves top position. Her ground and pound and submission ability are not threatening, which is something she will need to improve on if she wants to compete with the top fighters in the division. Amanda Nunes (10-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC, +215 underdog) Nunes has a reputation as someone who either scores a knockout or goes out on her shield trying. After compiling a 5-1 start to her mixed martial arts career, which included knockouts of Vanessa Porto and Ediane Gomes, she signed a contract with Strikeforce in 2011. Her two fight stint in the promotion produced a knockout win over Julia Budd and a knockout loss to Alexis Davis in a fight she was dominating until she tired late in the second round. After splitting a pair of contests in the Invicta organization, she signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in 2013. Nunes’ UFC career has been quite productive, as she has compiled a 3-1 record, including knockout wins over Sheila Gaff, Germaine de Randamie, and Shayna Baszler. Amanda’s sole defeat came to recent title challenger Cat Zingano in a fight that saw her hammer Zingano with ruthless ground and pound in the first round before tiring late and getting finished via strikes in the third round. Nunes is an aggressive bomber on the feet that constantly hunts for the finish. She has a very powerful overhand right and left hook, which are complimented by her thudding leg kicks. She often starts very fast, which can be both good and bad. It is good because she can often secure a first round finish. However, when she cannot finish her opponent early she often runs out of gas and ends up getting finished herself. Amanda has decent takedowns and ferocious ground and pound, but does not have much of an offensive submission game. Cardio is her biggest issue, and that may come into play in this fight against McMann. Fight Analysis This fight will likely see Nunes come out guns blazing again, looking for an early finish. McMann must stay composed and counter Nunes’ aggression. McMann was dominating Tate when they fought but panicked when she got hit and immediately went to her escape valve, her wrestling. That almost got her choked out by a guillotine which Tate slickly applied. Luckily for Sara, Nunes isn’t much of a submission threat, but she does hit very hard and if she gets hit again like she did against Tate and Baszler it could end her night early. However, I think the most likely scenario is McMann exchanging on the feet just enough to set up her takedowns. From there she must remain active with ground and pound or she is going to keep getting stood up by the referee. Even if that does happen, repeated takedowns and top control will likely tire Nunes out enough for her to either win a clear decision or perhaps even secure a late stoppage. The Prediction: Sara McMann defeats Amanda Nunes by unanimous decision.

Written by Mike James

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