Miesha Tate’s Road to UFC 168
Miesha Tate’s road to UFC 168 is as much about her own path as it is about women’s MMA. Women’s MMA was embraced early by the likes of EliteXC, and then Strikeforce, for reasons that can be summed up with two fighters: Gina Carano and Cristiane ‘Cyborg’. The general consequence of this is that the 145lb women’s division was the “marquee” division, while the 135lb division was a lot more fringe. Just ask then champion Sarah Kaufman who had to plead in interviews to not be relegated to the Strikeforce: Challengers series.
However, Carano would retire with a loss to Cyborg, and Cyborg’s positive drug test after defeating Hiroko Yamanaka seriously hurt the 145lb division. Meanwhile, Kaufman would go on to lose her title to Marloes Coenen, Miesha Tate would win a one night tournament to earn a title shot — and then finished Coenen to win the Strikeforce title in 2011, and Tate would lose the title in 2012 to a surging Ronda Rousey. Tate would however bounce back in 2012 with an incredible comeback over Julie Kedzie, and was placed in a number one contender fight in the UFC against Cat Zingano. Zingano would stop Tate controversially in a comeback, but with an injury to Zingano, Tate was granted the title fight with Rousey.
Ronda Rousey’s Road to UFC 168
Rousey was turning heads early for her quick armbar finishes, and seemed to be the next big challenger for ‘Cyborg’ in Strikeforce. Instead, after winning two fights at 145lbs, and Cyborg testing positive for a banned substance, Rousey went down in weight, and challenged Miesha Tate for the title in 2012. Despite only four professional fights, Rousey entered the fight a significant favorite, and did not disappoint, finishing Tate in the first round after surviving some early danger. Rousey would go on to defend her title once more in Strikeforce, quickly armbarring former champion Sarah Kaufman, and when Rousey was promoted to the UFC champion this year, she successfully defended again with another first round armbar, after surviving a close choke attempt.
Rousey enters the fight a massive -800 favorite, and it’s not that hard to justify. Neither fighter is a great striker, but more importantly, Tate has never been shown to possess knockout power. So, while it’s possible she outstrikes Rousey, it doesn’t seem likely. In the grappling world — which is Tate’s speciality, Rousey is simply better. Rousey is the bigger, stronger, better athlete, and has the better takedown game. When Tate and Rousey lock up in the clinch, there’s no reason to believe Rousey won’t end up on top.
On the ground, there are certainly areas of the game where Tate is better than Rousey, and it’s also within the realm of possibilities that Tate catches an overzealous Rousey on the ground. But it’s no secret that Rousey is very good at imposing her armbar, and one can’t seriously believe that if the fight hits the mat, that Tate will be the one in control. Expect Rousey to take Tate down early again, land some punches, and quickly transition to another armbar for another successful title defense.