• UFC 170

UFC 170: Is McMann's wrestling enough to prevail?

February 20, 2014
Sara McMann takes her glossy record into the lion's den when she meets Ronda Rousey at UFC 170 © Getty Images
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Losing is just an inevitable part of any professional sport - or at least, it usually is.

For the first time in company history, the UFC will promote a card this weekend that features four perfect records in the main and co-main event bouts.

Female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey (8-0) headlines UFC 170 in Las Vegas opposite Sara McMann (7-0). In the night's co-feature, Daniel Cormier (13-0) meets late replacement Patrick Cummins (4-0).

That stat, of course, does not include the tournament format the promotion used in its earliest stages. UFC 4, for example, consisted of four undefeated fighters in its semi-finals, but three of them made their mixed martial arts debut that same night.

The modern UFC format has come close to seeing an all-undefeated main, co-main cast before. At UFC 78 in November 2007, headliners Michael Bisping and Rashad Evans were unbeaten, as was co-headliner Thiago Silva. Silva's opponent, Houston Alexander, had just one loss - which he suffered in his pro debut.

Other UFC events that were led by an 'undefeated' match-up include The Ultimate Fighter 8 finale (Efrain Escudero v Phillipe Nover) in December 2008 and UFC 98 (Evans v Lyoto Machida) in May 2009.

So with back-to-back fights with perfect records on the line, UFC 170 sounds like it should showcase two highly competitive bouts, right? Not exactly.

Rousey is favoured at 4-to-1 over McMann in their title bout. Cormier is a whopping 12-to-1 favourite against Cummins, who is making his UFC debut.

Not the odds you might expect to see, but as McMann put it during a recent interview with a UFC film crew, "the excitement of two people coming together who are undefeated is that both fully expect to win." That might be worth watching.

MAIN EVENT: WOMEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP

Ronda Rousey v Sara McMann

Breakdown: As fun as it is to talk about a match-up strictly between judo and wrestling, it's not really applicable in terms of breaking down this fight.

The reality is Rousey is a more advanced mixed martial artist than McMann, at least from what their respective fights have shown.

Rousey has more entries into grappling exchanges, slicker guard passes, better control - and on top of a technical advantage, Rousey is the more explosive athlete of the two.

This is not to say McMann has zero chance grappling with her, but even if she's able to take Rousey down, most likely in a scramble out of the clinch, I don't think she has the ability to keep Rousey down or submit her.

Rousey's stand-up, although improving with every fight, still looks like a work in progress, but so is McMann's. It's not unreasonable to think, if she wants to, Rousey could score points on the feet.

Prediction: I'm more intrigued by this match-up than any of Rousey's previous fights. You have an intelligent, confident wrestler in McMann who is bound to react better in grappling situations against Rousey than any of her previous opponents.

But she isn't on Rousey's level in terms of all-around fighting ability and I think that shows early. ROUSEY BY ARMBAR, FIRST ROUND

CO-MAIN EVENT: LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS

Daniel Cormier v Patrick Cummins

Breakdown: It's hard to make any firm conclusions on Cummins' fighting ability based on his four pro fights.

The opponents he's fought so far have been vastly incapable of defending his takedowns or getting up from their back. They were, for lack of a better word, easy wins. Cormier does not present just a new level of competition for Cummins, he's a new universe.

The only real proving grounds Cummins has been on, when it comes to MMA, is the gym, where he works alongside guys like Mark Munoz and Brendan Schaub. The reports from those sources are good, but really, what did you expect them to be?

The unfortunate thing here is that I want to know how good Cummins is. He's an above-average wrestler, but does he use it fluidly in MMA? How is he on the feet? Does he have submission skills or were his two tap-out wins mostly thanks to opponent exhaustion and forfeiture?

Chances are, Cummins will be so far out of his league on Saturday, we still won't really have a good gauge of what he's capable of until his next fight.

Cummins does appear to be that confident, doesn't-care-about-the-odds type of guy who might land that perfect punch. And we can't completely overlook the fact Cormier is cutting to a weight he hasn't been at in years.

Prediction: Let's be realistic, though. CORMIER BY TKO, SECOND ROUND

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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