Ronda Rousey stops Sara McMann in first round via strikes to retain UFC title

First-round victories are nothing new for “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.

Wins via strikes are, however, and that’s exactly what Rousey got Saturday night in the main event of UFC 170 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay, defeating challenger Sara McMann at the 1:06 mark of the first round to defend her Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight title.

The 27-year-old Rousey (9-0) defended her title for the third time in handing McMann (7-1) her first career loss, as the Glendale Fighting Club-trained champion crumpled McMann with a left knee to the body and followed with a barrage of punches that brought upon a stoppage from referee Herb Dean.

“We studied her videos and we noticed no one ever really tried to hit her to the body,” Rousey said in her postfight interview in the octagon. “We felt like it was the best thing to concentrate on the liver shot for this camp.”

The bout wasn’t without controversy, as many thought the stoppage came too soon as it appeared McMann, who was on all fours as she took right hands from Rousey, was getting up and was not damaged enough to have the fight stopped.

“I thought it was a good fight, I got hit in the liver and no matter how hard you train it’s not like you can get your liver stronger,” McMann said in the octagon. “I just look forward to going back to the drawing board. I hope to get a rematch and come back in here and put on a better fight.”

McMann, long revered as a class act and soft-spoken, hesitated in placing blame on Dean for the stoppage.

“I was trying to get back up, but it was my own fault, if you see a fighter drop, he has to protect us,” McMann said. “It was my own fault, I should’ve got back up to my feet quicker.”

Word had spread in Rousey’s training camp, under GFC’s Edmond Tarverdyan, that she had been dropping sparring partners with punches to the liver, but it was her knee that floored McMann.

Still, Rousey, who had been resoundingly booed after she defeated archrival Miesha Tate in her last fight and refused to shake Tate’s hand in the aftermath, drew plenty of cheers coming into the fight, but was once more booed at the conclusion, likely due to the controversial stoppage.

“Thank you for the emotion guys,” Rousey said.

Rousey, a former two-time Olympian in judo, had won all eight of her previous professional fights and three amateur bouts via armbar submission with all but one – the last fight against Tate – coming in the first round. But against McMann, a former Olympian in freestyle wrestling, it was her clinch and striking game that led to victory.

The two former Olympic medalists – Rousey a bronze medalist in 2008 and McMann a silver medalist in 2004 – wasted no time in engaging as they both came out swinging.

McMann looked to have landed the better shots, particularly some right crosses as Rousey went for the clinch against the cage.

The two exchanged knees, separated, traded hands and Rousey locked up the clinch again. Rousey landed a left knee to the body and a wicked right elbow, then a nasty left elbow and finally the knee to the body with the follow-up right hands and that quickly it was over.

“What Ronda showed tonight is that she is a real champion. She rose to the occasion against a top challenger,” UFC color commentator Joe Rogan said to conclude the pay-per-view broadcast, “and beat one of the toughest women in her division quite easily.”

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