Karol Rosa is ready to change her MMA career on Saturday night in Columbus.
Rosa won her first four UFC bouts, capped off by a decision over one-time bantamweight title challenger Bethe Correia this past October, and she sees her UFC Columbus clash with Sara McMann as the perfect opportunity to jump the line for a title eliminator bout in the summer.
“I knew time would come for me to fight one of the best,” Rosa said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Sara is a veteran, an Olympic champion in wrestling, and I’m very excited for this fight. About time I’m fighting a top-10 [opponent], a very experienced woman. It will be the toughest fight of my career.”
McMann, like Correia, challenged for the UFC gold after racking up an undefeated MMA record. But she came up short in his championship attempt against Ronda Rousey, losing by knockout in a matter of seconds. She has bounced between wins and losses since 2015, but has only been beaten by contenders of the division.
“I knew I was going to fight Sara at some point,” Rosa said. “She’s ranked No. 9, and that means I’ll enter the top-10 early in the year. People will get to see me more and get worried because I’m coming to fight for the belt.
“When I’m [in Las Vegas] and people ask me who I’m fighting next and I say Sara’s name, they go, ‘Oh, Sara is an experienced opponent.’ I know, but I’m ready. People will get to know me more after this fight.
“She’s a wrestler, so she will try to take me down and work on the ground. She trades a little bit on the feet, has good boxing, but wrestling is her thing. I’m ready for it, to keep it standing, but I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Even though I haven’t showed it yet, only in the Joselyne [Edwards] fight, I’m ready to fight on the ground if we have to grapple.”
Rosa said she expects to put her name in the title conversation with a victory in Ohio. Amanda Nunes, the UFC featherweight queen, is expected to rematch Julianna Peña to attempt to regain the 135-pound gold in July or August, and the PRVT fighter wants to be on the same card so she can fulfil her dream and be a UFC champion in 2021.
“That’s my goal,” Rosa said. “I wanna perform well, I want to try for the knockout or the submission, and go for the title shot. Winning in March, I’ll fight again in the middle of the year. I’ll ask for the belt with another win. With two more wins, the McMann and another one, I’m sure I can fight for the belt by the end of the year.”