Some of the biggest marquee names in the sport still experience pre-fight anxiety, but when you’ve competed on the Olympic level, fighting in the UFC for the first time doesn’t carry the same weight, or at least it didn’t for Sara McMann.
“I felt shockingly good,” said the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist in wrestling during the UFC 159 post-fight press conference.
The questions about nerves leading up to her fight with Sheila Gaff had McMann wondering if she was going to succumb to the phenomenon.
“With all the talk in the media about Octagon jitters – I had like six interviews in a row talking about it. I was like, oh man, maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I am going to get it, but I think having competed for so long, once I started my warm-up I was good to go. I was ready to fight,” she said.
McMann doesn’t think there is anything in the sports world more pressure filled than competing for a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
“I think that simply because it is every four years, with something like the Olympics, four years in between, it could be your only shot. You can mess up and not do as well at Worlds or Nationals and you kind of have chances to come back the next year. But with the Olympics, I think when you’re in there, you feel like this is the only time I’m going to get to do this. I better do it right, and that’s a tremendous amount of pressure,” she explained.
McMann handled her UFC debut like a veteran. She quickly got the fight to the ground, improved her position, trapped Gaff in a mounted crucifix and finished with a series of strikes. The performance was flawless, jitters be damned.