Next weekend one of the most hotly anticipated rematches in UFC history will take place when Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman square off for the second time. The co-main event, however, has also generated a lot of hype as Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate prepare to add the second instalment in one of the most heated rivalries in the sport.
The first fight between the two was a major stepping stone toward the introduction of women’s MMA to the UFC. It took place in the now defunct Strikeforce organisation after a high profile pre-fight build up. In the end the outcome was no different than any other of Rousey’s fights – a first round victory via armbar that left her opponent injured.
Since then Rousey has gone on to become one of the biggest stars in the sport. A first title defence against Sarah Kaufman didn’t last so long as a minute, with Rousey dominating her tough opponent. Rousey was then handed the UFC Bantamweight title as the organisation announced its first foray into Women’s MMA. The UFC’s new poster girl went on to defeat Liz Carmouche, again via first round armbar – though the champ had some difficulty early on as Carmouche attempted a standing face crank.
In contrast, Miesha Tate has struggled since losing her title to Rousey. Julie Kedzie had her in serious trouble before Tate managed to pull out a submission victory late on, and in her UFC debut she was brutally beaten up by Cat Zingano despite dominating the fight early on with superior technique. The winner of the latter fight was to receive a coaching spot on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Rousey, and an eventual title shot. Just as it looked as though Tate had missed the boat, Zingano suffered a knee injury which paved the way for the Tacoma native to renew her rivalry with Rousey.
Tate has enjoyed the upper hand in the lead up to the fight, with Rousey’s antics on the reality TV show proving unpopular with fans. When the two were pitted against each other in a fan vote for the cover of the “EA Sports UFC” video game, Tate came out on top.
Rousey did defeat Tate at rock-climbing in the TUF coaches challenge, however, and when the two collide in their next scheduled athletic contest at UFC 168 fans should expect a similar outcome. While Rousey’s training may have been hampered by her TV and film commitments – she is set to appear in “The Expendables 3” and “Fast and Furious 7” – the Olympian possesses the necessary skills to top Tate.
Tate may have better standup, but it is unlikely that she will be able to score a KO or even hurt Rousey. Likewise, it is doubtful that she will avoid the Judo throws and keep the fight standing long enough to win a decision. Rousey will come forward bullishly as she does and sooner or later the two will be clinching against the cage, from here it seems that Ronda’s Judo will trump Miesha’s wrestling as it did in the first fight. Even if Tate can avoid the armbar, she could still be dominated by Rousey on the mat. The manner in which Cat Zingano wore her down and beat her up having lost the first two rounds suggests that Tate will again struggle against a physically stronger opponent.
Tate has had a successful career, but Saturday night could well turn out to be her last shot at the big time. She is 1-2-0 in her last 3 fights, and a loss would mean she’d have lost 3 from four – albeit against high level competition. The talent pool is only going to get bigger as the UFC commits itself more and more to promoting Women’s MMA. Next weekend is make or break for Miesha.
Pundit Arena, Padraig Martin.