The main event for the second Invicta FC event will feature a pair of exciting competitors. Former Olympic silver medalist Sara McMann looks to keep her undefeated streak going against “The Queen of Spades” Shayna Baszler.
“This is probably the last week of hard training and next week will likely focus more on weight cutting,” McMann said, taking a break from her rigorous training schedule for an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner.
As any fighter will tell you, talking to people during weight cuts isn’t exactly a top priority—a fact not lost on this writer. When asked about how she seemed so calm and even keeled during a tough training day, the former Olympian pointed to her wrestling background as possibly the greatest asset to her training regimen.
“Wrestling practices are very hard, not only physically but mentally as well. It helps you build mental and physical toughness,” McMann said.
Even with the string of injuries occurring in the MMA as of late due to a number of reasons, including intense training, don’t expect to see McMann’s name added to the disabled list.
“Training for the Olympics helped me not only to train harder, but also train smarter as well,” McMann said.
That Olympic-level experience, combined with years of wrestling, is what McMann will look to in order to equalize Baszler’s experience when the two meet in the cage. Baszler has four times the amount of fights as McMann, who made her debut last year. But McMann isn’t phased by the numbers.
“I don’t really pay attention to total fights. I’ve been through thousands of competitions from wrestling. It’s just a different rule set to learn, so I don’t feel that inexperienced,” McMann explained.
A love of competition is what brought McMann to Invicta FC. The 5-0 fighter has competed for a pair of big-name regional promotions in ProElite and Titan Fighting Championships, but believes she has found a great home with Invicta.
“I liked the match-ups and every fight was exciting. I also knew the owners from before and know they do things the right way,” McMann said.
Doing things the right way will also be very important for McMann during her fight with Baszler. Baszler, who trains under Pride veteran Josh Barnett, has won all but one of her fights via submission and will likely be McMann’s biggest test to date. Still, McMann is confident that her training partners—whom she described as being like family—at Revolution MMA and Limestone College will have her prepared for whatever Baszler throws her way.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on position battles and submission attacks and defense. I love the guys I train with; an athlete is only as good as the people pushing them,” McMann admitted.
McMann also knows she will need to capitalize on every chance she gets against an aggressive submission artist like Baszler.
“This fight is going to come down to who can make their most of their chances, and I’ll need to make the most of my opportunities,” McMann said.
Even though McMann is confident that her hand will be raised following the contest, she is not above giving some insight into how she sees herself winning.
“Obviously, I’m looking for a finish. A submission victory over Baszler would be a great accomplishment,” McMann said.
Although anyone can see that McMann is a down-to-Earth personality just from talking to her, she believes that ultimately she won’t be considered a fan-favorite. Despite a litany of wrestling honors and perhaps the best amateur credentials outside of Ronda Rousey, McMann doesn’t expect to hear the roar of the crowds anytime soon.
“I fight for myself and to grow as a competitor. It’s all about competition for me, and I know some people won’t like that,” McMann confessed.
One area where McMann can gain a fan base is through a rather odd challenge to the MMA community. Whereas most fighters would rather avoid the Internet forums, McMann is choosing to encourage her fans to take to the Internet and help her.
“I’m issuing a challenge to the MMA community for the real fans. I want knowledgeable critiques about my performances, like stuff that I can work on and possibly improve my game with. I want to always be getting better and I know some fans will see stuff that I don’t,” McMann said.
Knowledgeable MMA fans can reach McMann on both Twitter and Facebook to give their helpful hints. Will McMann’s Olympic-level wrestling be enough to thwart Baszler’s submission game? Fans can tune in to Invicta FC 2 on Saturday night to find out.
Top Photo: Sara McMann rains punches from the top position (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)