Bellator 294’s Sara McMann: Beating Cyborg “Worthy Accomplishment,” But Division Shouldn’t Wait On Her

Former UFC bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann was dominant in her Bellator MMA debut on Friday, wrestling her way to success against promotional staple Arlene Blencowe.

The win over Australia’s Blencowe, a three-time title challenger in Bellator’s women’s featherweight division, lands McMann (14-6) in the mix at 145lbs. In addition to her promotional debut, Friday was McMann’s debut in the weight class currently reigned over by Cris Cyborg — who remains in negotiations with the promotion, her future very much up in the air.

“I think that it would be great to beat Cyborg to be Bellator champion. That in my heart is what I kind of, when I came in this division, that’s what I set my heart on,” McMann (14-6) told media outlets following the fight. “That to me is such a worthy accomplishment. I have total respect for her, and I still want to beat her.”

That said, McMann knows she doesn’t have time to wait on the champ.

“If she’s making different decisions as far as financially or what direction, I can’t sit around and wait. I’m not 22, I’m 42. I’m going to fight who they put in front of me. The division shouldn’t wait for her forever,” noted McMann. “She’s a dominant champion, but they should have a real belt after a certain period of time, and then she should have to come back and earn the belt.”

Cyborg last competed in April of 2022, defeating Blencowe to defend her featherweight title for the fourth time. She has not returned to the Bellator cage twice, instead taking a couple of boxing matches.

McMann does believe at some point, the two will cross paths. “For me, I think of it like, I’ll fight her sooner, or I’ll fight her later.”

As to where Cyborg ranks among the all-time great female fighters, “I never really thought about it,” said McMann. “There’s been a lot of really amazing women fighters. I think like top three to top five. It’s just tough when you have different weight divisions, and you have people sometimes fighting at 140. You just never know.”

“Sometimes she fought girls who were truly 135’ers, and those wins are a little bit different than fighting another solid 145’er,” added McMann. “It’s just different.”

Watch the full Bellator 294 post-fight press conference with Sara McMann above.