For all the fabricated animosity in the world of MMA, sometimes fight fans have the pleasure of witnessing true hatred between two combatants. It adds an extra layer of intrigue to any match-up and, for the most part, fuels performances that tap into something beyond the competitive drive most would take from.
One such relationship can be found between Miesha Tate and the returning Ronda Rousey. Both women served as coaches on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter and engaged in two memorable contests with one another, the second of which being the longest bout of Rousey’s professional career.
These two do not like each other one bit and neither has ever made any attempt to hide it. Tate, for a long time, was seen as the second greatest 135lb fighter on the planet but just like all of those who faced Rousey, found herself with little chance of claiming the #1 spot and the belt that came with it.
So when Holly Holm shocked the world last November and knocked out Ronda in a masterful performance, Tate took her opportunity to solidify her legacy with open arms and choked out the newly-crowned champion in a dramatic comeback to get her hands on UFC gold for the first time.
Her reign atop the bantamweight division was short-lived however, and at UFC 200 she was swiftly dispatched by current champion Amanda Nunes. She will now be forced to watch from the sidelines as her longtime rival steps back into the octagon to face Nunes at UFC 207 and, interestingly, despite all of the bad blood between the pair, Tate still backs her to get the job done.
Speaking in a recent interview with ESPN, Tate gave her views on Ronda’s chances as well as a key X-factor that may prove to be her downfall:
“I think if Ronda is at her height, I would probably say Ronda. I always tend to favour grapplers. That’s just my bias. I think it’s more probable for a fight to go to the ground and get finished than it is for a clean knockout. That’s less common in women’s MMA. So, if you factor that in, I think Ronda is the stronger grappler.”
A lot has been made of the mindset of Rousey coming into this bout, with questions being raised about her dedication to the sport, especially given her flirtation with other avenues that have opened to her as a result of her stardom.
“What’s so weird about this fight is all the X-factors,” continued Tate.
“Amanda is a really tenacious fighter and I think she’s going to have a newfound confidence coming into this fight. I guess what I don’t know is how Ronda is going to show up. I’m pretty confident about what Amanda will show up, but Ronda, it has been such a long time. Ring rust can be a very real thing and how is she going to be as far as being punch-shy?
“She knows Amanda is heavy-handed and after being cracked by Holly, does that change the mindset of someone like Ronda who kind of believed, along with many others, she was untouchable?
“It’s hard to say who wins this because it kind of depends on what version of Ronda shows up.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how the mental aspect of this fight plays out but with her having faced both women in the past, Tate is clearly in a good position to give her two cents on the matter.
Tate will face off against Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in the hope of getting herself back into title contention while Rousey’s comeback fight for the women’s bantamweight championship is scheduled to take place at UFC 207 this December.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena