The women of the UFC will try to continue their popularity surge when Sara McMann takes on Sheila Gaff as part of the UFC 159 prelims on FX this Saturday night.

McMann, who was in line to fight for the Invicta FC title before leaving the promotion for a perceived better opportunity with Strikeforce, appears to have been given a cupcake for her first fight with the UFC. McMann holds a professional record of 6-0 and has what one would consider to be a traditional MMA fighting style that focuses on wrestling. Gaff is the complete opposite and is somebody the UFC signed due in large part to her exciting and reckless style which leads to knockouts more often than not.

While the winner of this fight does move within reach of fighting the winner of Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, nothing appears to be certain in the murky waters of the 135-pound division. McMann may have been better off staying with Invicta to not only have a shot at a respected belt, but to also maintain a regular fight schedule. McMann fought in May, June, July and August of 2011. She then fought again in the months of January and July in 2012 before taking a chance on Strikeforce and seeing that promotion dissolve. After McMann’s fight this Saturday night in Newark, N.J., it will remain to be seen how long she will have to wait to get another fight within the UFC.

The biggest wildcard in the scenario, aside from whether or not she beats Gaff, is if she will have to sit out and wait for a title shot should Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino decide to come down in weight and jump onto the UFC roster. Regardless of how much angst we see from UFC President Dana White against the Cyborg camp (which includes Tito Ortiz) at the moment, one would have to believe he sees a gold mine in a Rousey vs. Cyborg title fight on pay-per-view.

The best scenario for McMann is to beat Gaff, then get a shot against Rousey if the current champion gets past Zingano following their tenure on The Ultimate Fighter series. That is quite a few if’s for the 32-year-old fighter, and it would also mean she’d likely have a year off between those two fights. If Cyborg does jump into the UFC at the beginning of 2014, the wait for a title shot would be even longer. In taking into account the big picture and all of the variables, McMann would have been better off staying with Invicta to earn that promotion’s title and making a couple of defenses leading up to a “champion vs. champion” match-up with the UFC’s title holder later on in 2014.

This is certainly a lot for one to wrap their head around, but it just goes to show how fluid the women’s division is within the UFC and how many different scenarios there are with the shallow roster the promotion currently has.

What about Gaff? Although she appears to be a tune-up opponent for McMann, can her reckless abandon catch McMann by surprise? Sixty percent of Gaff’s wins have come by knockout, which is a rare statistic for a woman in MMA competition. Gaff has two knockouts of 10 seconds or less and fights each of her opponents with a sense of intense purpose that fans would love to pay to watch. Gaff could be a blessing for the UFC if she can prove to be successful for the organization.

With all the talk of what we don’t know, we should remain focused on what we do know. McMann and Gaff will go at it this Saturday night in what is no doubt the least publicized UFC women’s fight to date. Although it is not on the main card, it is still on the FX portion of the prelims and should be viewed as a boost to a prelim card that is lacking a big name. When taking a look at the records of McMann (6-0) and Gaff (10-4) as well as their previous opponents, there is no reason to suggest that they should be on an already exciting pay-per-view portion of the card. Essentially, these women not being on the main card is not a representation of the reception the women’s division has received thus far. The first two women fights (Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche and Miesha Tate vs. Zingano) have been phenomenal fights and have most MMA fans intrigued to see the next one.

McMann and Gaff should bring the fireworks and continue to build upon the notion that the women’s division is here to stay in the UFC.

Photo: Sara McMann (R) delivers a right hand (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.

  • unbeknownst

    She probably only missed out on one fight had she stayed with Invicta FC. She would of headlined IFC4 last January and possibly defended that belt for the first time at IFC6 in July of this year.

    Cat and Ronda aren’t fighting until December, there’s plenty of time to have McMann fight again in the fall, probably against the winner of Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton. Which is great and kind-of ironic because McMann vs. Davis was probably the fight that Invicta wanted to make in January.

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