Sara McMann’s recent performance at the ProElite event in Hawaii was a prime example as to why we should all keep an eye on her in the future. Being relatively new to the sport of MMA gave me a chance to inquire about her start in MMA, as well as gain some insight as to what makes her tick both inside the cage and out.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that Ms. McMann is an extremely complex personality, and the answers that she provided me with were in some cases surprising but ultimately fitting considering her current standing as one of the premiere athletes competing in WMMA.
I guess the best place to start would be the beginning. So what was your first exposure to the Martial Arts?
My first exposure to MMA was watching it in college with Tim Boetsch and Mike Cleznolevicz. They were training and huge fans early on, and were also wrestling teammates of mine.
Did you start with formal or traditional Martial Arts training or did you jump right into wrestling?
I wrestled for sixteen years before I ever trained in MMA.
Having such a stellar wrestling background combined with all of the accolades that you have received representing the United States in both the Olympic Games and the World Championships, did you ever think during that time when competing that you might one day become a Mixed Martial Artist, and if so what were your first experiences with MMA and what did you think of the sport upon your first exposure?
I never thought that I would do MMA at the time during my wrestling career because I was so enthralled with wrestling. I still love wrestling before ANY sport. My first exposure to MMA training was great and I liked all the new moves I could learn.
When you finally decided upon a career in MMA did your family have any questions or concerns about your choice to become a professional fighter?
My family was very supportive of my MMA career because they were confident of my toughness. Some were sad that I was leaving wrestling because they loved to watch me compete in wrestling, but they are now fans of MMA.
Who would you list as your MMA mentor?
My mentor is Jimmy Fowler, my coach. He is great at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he is very tough. He sets the standard in our gym and we all work to live up to it.
Can you describe your style?
I am young in MMA and I don’t have an exact style yet. Clearly I excel at takedowns, but I may end up being a very different fighter after I have trained for a few more years.
Women’s MMA is starting to really take off here in the U.S. but they have been promoting it for quite a while in Japan, so would you ever consider fighting over there or is the U.S. MMA market the only place for you?
I would love to fight in Japan. I’ve competed in Japan for wrestling and I loved it.
Do you think that the UFC will eventually create a female division?
I have no idea if the UFC will create a Women’s division and I really don’t care. There are many promotions that want to have women involved and I am happy to be a part of those promotions.
If you could fight anyone in WMMA, who would it be?
I want to fight everyone in the 135lb. weight class. That is how it works in wrestling and that is how I can truly know that I am the best.
Who is your favorite Mixed Martial Artist, male or female?
My favorite fighter is Jose Aldo but I totally pull for all of my wrestling friends that have joined MMA. I also love Megumi Fugi.
I noticed that you also have a theatrical background as well. Do you have a favorite Martial Arts or Kung Fu movie?
I used to watch “Kickboxer” and “Bloodsport” when I was younger and I totally loved Jean Claude Van Damme.
A MMA fighter trains incessantly and are usually on very strict diets, do you have a favorite “cheat” or “junk” food that you just can’t live without?
Brownies are my weakness and they are my treat after cutting for my fights.
Now that the UFC has signed it’s multi-year broadcasting deal with FOX, do you feel that it is a good thing for MMA, or do you think that too much media exposure will affect the sport?
I think that more exposure is great for any sport. It helps the dedicated athletes pursue fighting full-time and become great.
We always see fighters with their “Ipods” and headphones on when getting prepared for competition. Can you tell me what your favorite kind of music is, or at least the type of music that motivates you?
I listen to different things depending on my mood. If I need to calm down I listen to fun, relaxing songs like the ones from “Sublime” or “All American Rejects”. If I need to get my blood pumping I listen to harder stuff like “Linkin Park” or “Staind”.
A lot of fans put emphasis on “pound-for-pound” lists. What is your personal take on these types of hypothetical lists?
I like “pound-for-pound” lists because they give credit to some of the smaller fighters that are great at what they do. Maybe smaller weights couldn’t beat some of the larger weights in a fight (or maybe they could), but it’s great to recognize people who have superb skills and athleticism for “their” size.
I also noticed that you do a lot of volunteer work for some very notable organizations. Can you tell me what inspired you to take on such a rewarding challenge?
I enjoy volunteer work because many people have helped me in my life and I am compelled to give back. When I look back over my life on my “deathbed”, I’d like to know that I helped people and changed the world for the better and not just pursued my own glory.
As a fighter and a fan, what fight would you want to see more than anything, or your “dream fight” match-up from a spectators point of view?
I would like to see Jessica Eye fight Cat Zingano. It would be a great fight!
What’s next for Sara McMann and what can fans expect from you in the immediate future?
I don’t know when my next fight is. My manager, Monte Cox handles all of that and I trust him to make the right choices for my career. Fans can expect that my fighting will improve, on my feet and on the ground with each fight and training camp. I am driven to excel in every area in MMA and I am working to be well-rounded and dominating.
Finally in closing I have to get a little “fluffy” and ask one more question. If you were on a deserted island and could only take one album, one movie, and one book, what would they be?
Sara McMann: The album would be “Bob Marley’s Legend”, the movie would be “The Shawshank Redemption”, and the book would be my daughter Bella’s baby album.