Raleigh, NC — One of the story lines that permeated the UFC Raleigh card was that of returns. Comebacks. Coming home, after time away. Justine Kish returned to the UFC for the first time in two years. Brett Johns had been out over a year. And Sara McMann, the Olympian and former bantamweight title challenger, had been out nearly two years herself.
All three had their hand raised Saturday. For her part, McMann earned a unanimous decision against the “Elbow Queen,” Lina Lansberg, in Raleigh. The win was her first since 2017. In her first fight since February 2018.
“It felt really good,” she told reporters including Cageside Press following the bout. “I tried not to focus on the outcome and I tried to really focus on the process.” In other words, what she wanted to do at each moment of the fight. Where she could keep advancing. “I chose position over taking too much of a risk and I knew if I stayed solid and stayed smart and one step ahead of her that I was going to get my hand raised.”
Wrestling, of course, was McMann’s game plan. With a silver medal in freestyle wrestling at the Olympics, and working with Team Alpha Male, of course it is. “Even before I went out I thought ‘is there a girl on the planet in my weight class that I’m not going to be able to take down?’ and I’m like ‘no.’ It may not be the first take down or the second or the the third but if I want someone to go to the ground they’re going to the ground.”
As for the ring rust question, McMann said that while “I do believe that sometimes ring rust is real, I felt completely at home out there.”
After all that time away, “it was important for me to go out there and do well,” McMann later added. “I really feel like in my last two fights that I lost, I was doing really well. It’s not like I went out there and anybody dominated me. The biggest thing for me was I have better focus than what I showed, I was doing really well and I had a lapse in judgement.”
On what comes next, McMann said that “if I’m healthy and can fight three months from now, I would love that. I would love to keep fighting more frequently.”
Watch the full UFC Raleigh post-fight press scrum with Sara McMann above!