San Jose, CA – Bellator’s newest featherweight Sara McMann wasn’t in a hurry to leave the UFC, but the draw of seeing what she could do in the open market was too much for her to pass up.
Speaking to reporters on Friday night as a guest fighter at Bellator 292 McMann detailed her thinking before she signed with Bellator in December.
“Being older you think about retirement, you think about your future, and what things that you want. Not just in your fighting career, but also like in your life. I had almost 10 years fighting with the UFC so it was never anything about that, but I just really wanted to see what else was out there,” McMann said.
“For a long time I think that you could only really fight in some promotions and be promoted really well as a female. Sometime in the last five years women have gotten a ton of really great opportunities and a ton of promotion. We’re really just taking off, and I just wanted to check the landscape out.”
So it wasn’t about leaving the UFC, but finding the right opportunity for herself and her career.
“I’d always fought to where it was one fight left on the contract, you know, that was pretty standard. (My manager) asked me if I wanted to fight to free agency before my Karol Rosa fight, and I was like yeah I think I should,” she said.
“I might have stayed. I wanted to see if the grass was greener in certain areas and it was.”
McMann said she wasn’t considering other promotions outside of the UFC or Bellator, but it was about many things including who was on the roster.
“I think that at like 135 UFC has the premiere division. I think at 145 Bellator has the best fighters, the deepest roster, and they have Cyborg. So if I want to be a world champion I felt like that was my avenue,” McMann said.
“If they had a 135 division and they had good set girls I would have obviously liked that. I’m not sad about not cutting weight.”
Cyborg is currently a free agent, but she remains one of the bigger names in the promotion. The question remains as to whether she’ll return to Bellator or move on to something else.
“I mean I’m here for 18 months. I know that she’s done some boxing, but I believe that probably this is her home, and that she’ll be back. Even if she does something else outside of here I think she’ll be back to Bellator,” said McMann.
Her first matchup in Bellator will be against Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 294 in Hawaii on April 21.
“One of my requests coming into Bellator is that they very much put me on the track that I was asking for in the UFC. They were right on board to do that,” she said.
“That puts me immediately in the mix and that’s what I’ve wanted for years now. It’s been a long time coming.”
Watch the rest of the scrum with Sara McMann above.