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Ronda Rousey, Sara McMann set for UFC 170 showdown

Mixed Martial Arts: Glendale-trained UFC champ defends her title Saturday live on Pay Per View from Las Vegas.

February 21, 2014|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • Rhonda Rousey spars with her trainer Edmund Taverdyan at an open workout with the MMA champion at the Glendale Fighting Club in Glendale on Monday, February 10, 2014. Several media photographers and reporters documented Rousey's every move as she gave interviews, warmed up, and sparred with her trainer Edmund Tarverdyan.
Rhonda Rousey spars with her trainer Edmund Taverdyan… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

One could argue that for a championship bout with such provocative story lines and pedigrees, Ronda Rousey’s UFC 170 main event against Sara McMann has had less than three months of build-up.

In reality, many would contend that the impending showdown for the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title has been years in the making.

“We started at the amateur level at the exact same time,” said Rousey at a recent open workout at the Glendale Fighting Club, where she trains under Edmond Tarverdyan. “So we’ve both been aware of each other since then. I’ve been sure that our paths would cross at some point.”

Rousey was a two-time Team USA Olympian in judo in 2004 and 2008, winning a bronze in ’08 and becoming the first female judoka to do so. In 2004, McMann won a silver medal for the United States in freestyle wrestling. Both would then begin their amateur mixed-martial-arts careers in 2010, run off a string of wins before debuting in the professional ranks and subsequently defeat every opponent in front of them to lead into Saturday’s Olympic showdown of undefeated fighters for the UFC women’s 135-pound title at the Mandalay Bay.

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“There’s no doubt that those two were on a collision course from the inception of the division,” UFC President Dana White told the News-Press in January.

Thus, many in the MMA world have long speculated that McMann (7-0) and her Olympic-level wrestling could be the foil to Rousey (8-0) and her Olympic-level judo.

In November, at a media luncheon in Los Angeles, longtime UFC contender and analyst Chael Sonnen spoke about a proposed matchup of Rousey and McMann, still a month away from Rousey defending her title against archrival Miesha Tate (a fight Rousey won via third-round armbar on Dec. 28 of last year).

“The toughest girl I know, aside from Ronda … is a girl named Sara McMann,” Sonnen said. “That’s the fight. That’s the fight where people will have to tune in and think Ronda’s in danger.”

Though Rousey enters the bout as a 4-1 favorite, a growing number of those in the fighting community are picking a McMann upset. But Rousey has often expressed that doubters fuel her more so than believers.

“She likes proving people wrong,” Tarverdyan said Wednesday. “Everybody does, right?”

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