Miesha Tate walks into her re-match with Ronda Rousey at UFC 168 as a 6-to-1 underdog. She has been given a 15% chance of winning the fight, which is barely above the approval numbers currently for the United States Congress. On the bright side, Tate had been a 10-to-1 underdog. So perhaps some money is coming in on her.
The question is whether or not people are betting with their hearts or with their minds.
We saw what happened in their first fight. Whenever the fight was a stand-up battle, Tate clocked Rousey and did so with some nice flurries. Ronda immediately clinched and was able to Judo throw Tate to the ground and control the position game. She always looked for the arm-bar. Tate managed to neutralize some of Ronda’s ground attack to get back position but couldn’t maintain it once they both stood back up and Ronda got her clinch game going.
I see nothing changing this time around from the first fight as far as skill sets are concerned. So, what to make of a game plan for Tate? Go the Carlos Condit route. Condit was railed against by Nick Diaz supporters for riding the bicycle backwards but it proved to be a very effective strategy. Tate must keep the fight standing and pick apart Ronda. Avoid the clinch. If you go for a takedown, do so and then try to get back up and don’t follow into the trap of losing position.
I’m not suggesting that Tate doesn’t have a chance. We haven’t seen Ronda go past the first round. Ronda even admitted as such when discussing what she think Tate’s game plan will be. The fight is scheduled to go five rounds. Ronda’s never left the first round. Tate needs to drag the fight out and methodical. Ronda’s striking is nowhere near her level.
Hopefully Tate believes in herself for real and isn’t having to talk herself into believing she can win (like Ronda thinks). The reality is that nobody else thinks Tate is going to win, which is too bad because you would like to have a feeling of a more competitive dynamic heading into a re-match.
However, as we’ve seen before in matches involved two dynamic personalities, you don’t necessarily need to have a close spread for the public to buy in. See: Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones.
For UFC, an unexpected babyface emerged from TUF
The UFC invested a lot of time in promoting Ronda Rousey for Ultimate Fighter and it was Tate who came out as the babyface star, despite the fact that a lot of female fighters hate her. Tate has the looks. She has the toughness. Anyone who can get their arm twisted like a pretzel against Ronda Rousey and not scream has a serious pain threshold. Unfortunately for Tate, everyone is all-in with Ronda Rousey and is looking ahead to Rousey vs. Cyborg, Rousey vs. Sara McMann, or Rousey vs. Cat Zingano.
If the UFC had believed in Miesha Tate having a chance of winning the re-match, I guarantee you that they would have gone hog wild in pushing the female fighter even harder than they have been. The whole angle of TUF was about Ronda this and Ronda that. Don’t make Ronda mad because she’ll destroy you. Don’t piss Ronda off because she’s not in a good mood. Don’t do this, don’t do that. And yet Tate’s team won the matches at the TUF Finale and Tate herself saw her stock with the masses positively increase.
The stakes are very high for the re-match at UFC 168. If Miesha Tate wins, it sets up a trilogy match that could be worth millions of dollars to the two female fighters. It would be as big of a fight, if not bigger, than Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg. And I guarantee you that all the silent cheerleaders of Tate in the post-TUF female MMA series world would suddenly go from being silent to being the biggest bandwagon jumpers you’ve ever seen if the upset happens at UFC 168. Right now, everyone thinks Ronda Rousey has an Anderson Silva-like aura. However, once that aura is shattered, it is gone. Ask Fedor about that.
It would lazy to say that Tate is playing with house money here because one way or another, Ronda’s going to try to physically destroy her. But nobody is expecting Tate to win and thus all the pressure is on Ronda. Ronda handles athletic pressure great but pressure outside the cage does not seem to be her strong suit. If Tate can figure out a way to turn Ronda’s hatred of her and reflect it during their re-match, then there could be a legitimate psychological edge here. That all depends on whether or Tate truly believes in herself and believes that she has a shot of winning the re-match. She has a chance but it requires a really disciplined, grueling attack over a time span of 25 minutes. It’s not impossible.