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Marnic Mann warms up prior to her fight during Dana White's Contender Series season six, week eight at UFC APEX on September 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Marnic Mann Gets Down To Business

“The Sawed-Off Savage” Touts Mental Game, Full Camp Ahead Of Second UFC Appearance

A year ago, Montana strawweight Marnic Mann was in the MMA equivalent of limbo.

She had almost made it to the UFC before losing to Bruna Brasil on Dana White’s Contender Series in September of 2022, but she bounced back with an LFA win over Amber Brown.

Now she waited.

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“I was in a really weird spot last year,” said Mann. “Last April, I did an LFA fight and I was kind of still in a weird mindset after Contender Series. That was my first loss and the first time by knockout and all that kind of stuff. And then my bout in April, I won, but during the fight I got an injury that put me out of the gym for a few months.”

Marnic Mann kicks Josefine Knutsson of Sweden in a strawweight fight during the Noche UFC event at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Marnic Mann kicks Josefine Knutsson of Sweden in a strawweight fight during the Noche UFC event at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

That added to matters, but once Mann was back in the gym, the phone rang. It was an offer for a UFC fight against Josefine Knutsson. On two weeks’ notice. Mann is a fighter. Fighters fight. She accepted. Then the fun began.

“Thirteen days to make the biggest weight cut I've ever made,” she laughs. “So, literally going into that fight, zero preparation, kind of spotty being in the gym and stuff, it was crazy.”

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Mann didn’t get the win against Knutsson on the UFC Noche card, losing a unanimous decision, but she went three rounds and not only proved that she belonged on the big stage, but that with a full camp she was going to be a problem for the other 115-pounders out there. As for the whole madness surrounding her first trip to the Octagon?

“It was really quick,” she laughs. “Now that I think about it and how long I've been in camp for this fight, when I was 14 days out, I was like, no way did I seriously take a fight on this kind of notice with zero preparation. I would say it was kind of a blur just because it was so quick. I did get the chance, but, at the same time I didn't have the time to really get super nervous or overthink anything. I'm like, hey, this is opening the door for me. I know people don't like to take these short notice fights, and there's a reason why. So I told my coaches, don't tell me none of her credentials. I don't want to know anything. I'm going to go in there and just do my very best. And I was the most in the moment I felt in a long time.”

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When it was over, Mann was able to say that she was a UFC fighter. On Saturday, this UFC fighter makes the walk for the second time against Ketlen Souza, and when we talked nine days out and I asked her what the emotions were like, she was more than ready to get down to business.

“It kind of comes in waves,” she said. “You're going to get the nerves and then you're going to get excited and be like, man, I want to do it right now. It's just a big fluctuation of emotions. But I've been working with a sports psychologist at the UFC PI, which has been a tremendous help because the mental game has always been the hardest part for me. I've always made myself the biggest opponent that I've had, and it’s sometimes affected my performance, but I've been working with Micah (Schnurstein) at the PI and he's helped me really interpret the feelings I get before a fight and using them appropriately. And honestly, this is the best I've ever felt before a fight. I feel good. And like I said, it's normal for emotions to come. Your body's just giving you what you need. It knows you have a fight coming up, so it’s just using everything appropriately.”

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It's good to see the 31-year-old at this point, with all the ducks in a row so she can focus on her performance and nothing else, because the talent is there. And with a name like Marnic “The Sawed-Off Savage” Mann, she was made for the bright lights, and not a 9 to 5.

“A hundred percent,” she laughs. “There was a point I was always busy with sports during high school. And then after high school, I had a couple years of not really doing too much and just working. I'm a really good worker, but I could feel there was no passion and there was something missing. And once I got into the gym, even though it's highs and lows and everything, I realized that I want to live. And this is something that does that for me.”

Marnic Mann poses on the scale during the Noche UFC ceremonial weigh-in at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena on September 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Mann turned pro in 2019 and won five straight (with four finishes) before losing to Brasil. And now she’s in the UFC. But the question many have is, can she rise to the top while coming from a place that isn’t a hotbed for MMA in Montana (the success of natives Sean O’Malley and Montana De La Rosa notwithstanding)?

“We do have a lot of talent in Montana,” said Bozeman’s Mann. “But we're really spread out and the teams aren't big. When I went to Vegas, I trained for a week at Xtreme Couture, and that's a hotspot everybody flocks to. It has so much talent. So it's a little bit different how I do things here. Maybe my practices are sometimes a little bit longer in there, but I have more independent coaching time.”

There will be more visits to the big camps in the coming years for Mann, which is a good confidence boost.  

Marnic Mann poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on September 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“Just being able to go there and be surrounded by other UFC fighters, Bellator, PFL, all those guys, it gave me reassurance that I do belong here,” she said. “I do belong on this stage. I'm doing fine. I'm doing great.”

But home will always be home, which isn’t surprising, because it seems like everyone wants to move to Montana these days.

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“It's gorgeous,” said Mann. “Like I said, I went to Vegas for a week to go train with Xtreme Couture, and that’s a long time for me because I like being at home, where we have mountains where I live. I can do a 15-minute drive and I'll be in the mountains, so I can go hike and clear my head and be in nature. And it's just a pure feeling. I'm not surrounded by a bunch of buildings and it's hard to explain. Just being able to be out in the woods, it's amazing. We see moose, deer, bears, all those kinds of things. This is where I'm meant to live.”

And it’s where Marnic Mann has the potential to be known as the UFC fighter who brought Montana MMA to the masses by doing it her way.

“I am going to be the most genuine person that I can,” she said. “I promise that wherever any of this goes, I will be myself. Because fighting isn't forever. And the person I am through fighting is going to be the same person as after fighting, too. I'm never going to pretend and just say things for people to like me or whatever. It's just going to be that you get what you see. And if people like it and want to follow it, that's great. If they don't, that's great. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just going to be me.”

UFC Fight Night: Nicolau vs Perez took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 27, 2024. See the final Prelims and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!